Is History Repeating Itself in Mexico with the Ayotzinapa Tragedy?

15,000 march against disappearance of Ayotzinapa students, Mexico City, October 8, 2014, by Enrique Perez Huerta. Demotix.

15,000 march against disappearance of Ayotzinapa students, Mexico City, October 8, 2014, by Enrique Perez Huerta. Demotix.

As it does every year, Mexico commemorated on October 2 those who died in the tragic Plaza de Tres Culturas student massacre ;in Tlatelolco in 1968. Echoing the memorial services on the anniversary itself, Twitter users have spent the week promoting the hashtag #2DeOctubreNoSeOlvida (“October 2 Won't Be Forgotten”), sustaining the public conversation about the tragedy, which even after 46 years feels eerily recent for Mexicans, following the mysterious disappearance of almost five dozen students in Guerrero.

It's been 46 years since 1968. Will the bullets ever stop?

Just last month, on September 26, local police in Iguala attacked a group of students from the Rural School in Ayotzinapa, killing six and wounding seventeen. Another 25 people—perhaps more—simply vanished. Ironically, the youths were reportedly gathering resources for the 46th anniversary march in commemoration of the Tlatelolco massacre, when they were assaulted. The students were unarmed and en route to a peaceful demonstration against job discrimination against teachers from rural areas.

Yet another case of extrajudicial execution: Police officers gun down teacher trainees from Ayotzinapa in Iguala; 5 dead.

Since then, civil organizations throughout Mexico have repeatedly denounced such extrajudicial executions, advocating a search for the more-than-50 students who remain missing.

Photos of the 43 school students from Ayotzinapa who remain missing in Iguala.

It is crucial to remember that Ayotzinapa is not an isolated case: the state of Guerrero is only one of several Mexican states where organized crime is fighting a turf war. The government of Iguala, moreover, is not Mexico's only bureaucracy paralyzed by corruption. Police brutality is nothing unique to this case, either. Murders, disappearances, torture—these are weapons law enforcement across Mexico has turned on peaceful protesters. Ayotzinapa calls to mind other similar cases, including ;Aguas Blancas, Acteal, and Tlataya, where corrupt police in league with the mafia have effectively criminalized social protests.

Now officially announced by the government of #Guerrero [en]: 58 students from #Ayotzinapa [en] have gone missing. We want them back alive.

The Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural School of Ayotzinapa was founded on March 2, 1926, to offer children of farm workers access to education. Both Lucio Cabañas and Genaro Vázquez, guerrilla leaders who opposed land dispossession in the 1960s and 1970s, have passed through the school's halls. The student body is well known for its activism, advocating better education and expanded enrollment for the children of farm workers.

Today Ayotzinapa looks back toward the past. We demand justice!

Both the governor of Jalisco and the president of Mexico have addressed the recent tragedy in formal statements. Additionally, the federal government has resolved to dispatch police forces to oversee security in Iguala, after the discovery of six unmarked graves in the settlement of Pueblo Viejo, including the mangled remains of a youth identified as a student in a nearby industrial neighborhood. The rest of the bodies are still unidentified.

El Universal – Los Estados – Flayed corpse identified as that of a school student from Ayotzinapa.

28 bodies discovered in unmarked grave in Iguala; tests will be conducted to establish identity.

National and international organizations, including the Comité Cerezo, argue that these attacks, extrajudicial executions, and forced disappearances are tactics in a larger campaign to suppress Mexico's organized social movements.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the National Human Rights Commission, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Mexico have all weighed in on the recent events.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, @CIDH, offers four proposals to Mexico concerning the kidnappings of school students (report included).

The Office of the United Nations #ONU in Mexico asks that the government conduct an “efficient search” for the 43 kidnapped school students.

Extrajudicial executions and forced disappearances: the most serious HR [human rights] violations that it is possible to commit.

The disappearance of these 43 students from Ayotizinapa is a sad reminder for all Mexicans of similar past tragedies. Relatives of the disappeared students, alongside civil organizations, staged a national demonstration on Wednesday, October 8, to call for international solidarity and public awareness about the search effort.

Not only the schools, but all Mexican citizens with a modicum of awareness ought to decry the slaughter of school students from Ayotzinapa…

The missing students from the Rural School in Ayotzinapa are the latest additions to a growing list of disappeared civilians in Mexico, which also includes the women who mysteriously vanished in Ciudad Juárez, the migrant workers who went missing while in transit through Mexico, and the more than 26,000 people kidnapped or unaccounted for between 2006 and 2012, during the war on drugs.


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