By Horacio Jones
On September 26, 2014 in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico, 43 students from the Ayotzinapa teachers’ school were kidnapped on their way to protest against the wife of the Mayor of Iguala during a political event in her honor. Both the Mayor, Jose Luis Abarca and his wife Maria de Los Angeles Pineda have been accused of ordering the local police to abduct the students and turn them over to members of a local drug cartel called Guerreros Unidos. Allegedly the students were then tortured and burned alive. To date only the remains of 1 student have been identified.
I recently went to an art gallery in Barrio Logan where local artists put together an exhibition themed around the plight of the 43 students. I found it to be a unique opportunity to hear the artists’ opinions on the disappearance of the students and allow them to voice their solidarity with the people of Mexico.
As the search goes on for the missing students, mass graves are being found all around Iguala. This brings to light the grisly fact that the kidnapping and murder of Mexican citizens have been going on for some time. Outraged Mexicans who are fed up with escalating violence and corruption have taken to the streets demanding justice.
Huge protests have occurred in Mexico City and Chilpancingo, the capital city of the state of Guerrero. Despite the worldwide public outcry, the government has yet to provide a coherent response or resolution. Additionally, it’s unclear to what extent the federal government knew about the abduction on that fateful day in September.
It has recently been reported by the Mexican magazine Proceso that the Mexican federal police knew about the kidnapping as it was happening yet did nothing to stop it. Furthermore, allegations are surfacing that the federal police actually colluded with the local police in the disappearance of the students.
As someone born in Guerrero, I find this story profoundly disturbing. I remember a time when people could go out at night and not be afraid of being robbed, kidnapped or murdered by the drug cartels. There was still corruption going on, but it was nowhere near the horrific scale it has devolved into.
For now, the narcos rule the night, but I believe there will come a day when a new dawn will rise over Mexico and the instigators of this narco-government nightmare will be buried in the ashes of their own greed and depravity. In the meantime, a huge question remains. Where are the students ?
I made this piece because I was born in Guerrero and I have a lot of family and friends there. Fortunately, none of them are missing, but my family has been directly affected by the shift in power from the government to the drug cartels. I won’t say exactly what happened, for their safety, but there was an incident earlier this year. It really upset me and I felt powerless to do anything about it.
I had the same feeling when I last visited the region 2 years ago. I noticed that life was a little different. I kept being warned not to go out after 10pm because the narcos might rob or kidnap me. There was an undercurrent of fear in the community. It really incensed me when I learned how much the cartels had taken over, but what could I do about it?
I really couldn’t do much, especially since I didn’t have a gun to protect myself or a large amount of money to pull some government strings. Then when I heard the news about the missing students, I had the same powerless feeling. I really wanted to go down there and kill some narcos and corrupt cops, but I don’t have any military training and I’m not really a killer.
I do have a video camera and editing equipment though. So I’m glad that I have the opportunity to at least report on the situation and do my part to keep the story of the missing 43 students in the minds of people. I also want to express my support for the people of Mexico as they fight both a corrupt government and evil drug cartels who have overtaken their country.