On September 26, 2014 in Iguala, Guerrero 43 male student teachers from the Normal School Isidro Burgos in Guerrero, Mexico were attacked by municipal police and handed over to the Guerreros Unidos drug gang on September 26, 2014. Or so the government insists.
The government asserts that the boys were executed by a drug gang and their bodies cremated on a rainy night outdoors in a dump. The narco men indeed did confess, under torture.
Within the first few days following the disappearance of the normalistas, signs appeared in neighboring Oaxaca declaring IT WAS THE STATE. On a national level, nobody believes the government’s declarations. The government repeats its information in the face of independent Human Rights investigations which point to a collusion between the army, local police, the federal government and narco-traffickers. Why then were the students attacked and disappeared? One theory is that when they commandeered, as was often the case, public busses to travel to Mexico City, those very busses, one or more, were carrying hidden cargos of heroin. Hence army, local police.
The parents do not give up searching for their sons. They were refused permission to enter the military barracks where some clues indicate the boys were taken, probably by local police. Given the evident collusion, the parents not only refuse to accept the government explanation. Instead, not only the state’s incompetency to deliver justice but also their inability to act with any kind of legitimacy or credibility stands revealed. The populace daily becomes more convinced that the federal government is in fact deeply implicated in the violence it claims to oppose.
Perhaps unwittingly, Attorney General Murillo Karam pointed to a difference in individualist vs. collective ways of being and knowing that produce radically different approaches to action. He explained that the parents of the 43 disappeared son gente que toman decisiones en conjunto, are people that make decisions together. It is not about whether any of the parents as individuals believes or disbelieves Murillo Karam’s falsified evidenc. Rather, theirs is a shared and common refusal to accept the insufficient state evidence and its silence about its own complicity in the attacks and probable execution of their sons. Collective decision-making is still widely practiced in Mexico. The parents’ persistence highlights the distinction between how decisions are made in the vertical elite power centers “above” and in the participatory assemblies of grassroots indigenous communities “below”, in an increasingly narco-state.
But the rumblings from below, of the many dead and of these most recent 43 undead, together with deeply held memories of ways of being, knowing and doing among the living, combat the fear that only momentarily pauses Mexico’s deep and persistent resistance.
Mexico is tired, tired of being afraid, of being full of digna rabia, dignified rage. Students and teachers everywhere are rising up to greet these undead, who along with approximately 100,000 killed or disappeared since 2006, the start of this drug war under former President Calderón, call us to fight for dignity in both life and death.
Mexican society is fed up with decades of terror and death, living at the mercy of an increasingly horrific narco-state. The constant efforts of the Guerrero parents have led the general population to begin searching for and exhuming clandestine graves, seeking their own missing family members. Buried corpses cover Mexico, and not that far below the surface.
I think it worth mentioning that the Normal School Isidro Burgos has long been a cradle for guerrilla insurrection, the famous Lucio Cabañas attended and later taught there. In the battle against the so-called Education Reform, the government pushes for the abolition of Normal Schools, and for good reason: the poor and indigenous comprise their student bodies.
This information I adapted from articles and rallies following the Ayotzinapa disappearance. Within a short time, graffiti sprung up across the city of Oaxaca, as in many other places around the world. I was able to capture the names of the missing painted onto the steps of Fortin Hill until they were erased, within a week. The graffiti painted on the front of the church of Santo Domingo in the historic center remained for a few months, as did other slogans on privately owned buildings. Photos taken in Mexico were disseminated.
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