Ayotzinapa :: 43 still missing

Article by Josefina Cicconetti on the march that marked one year since the disappearance of 43 students in Mexico

Article by Josefina Cicconetti on the march that marked one year since the disappearance of 43 students in Mexico Article by Josefina Cicconetti on the march that marked one year since the disappearance of 43 students in Mexico

On September 26, more than fifteen thousand people rallied in Mexico City for the “march of national indignation”. The protest was staged to remind Mexicans and the world of the one-year anniversary of the forced disappearance of 43 students from the José Burgos Rural College of Ayotzinapa. The missing students were on their way to a demonstration, on two buses, when they were ambushed and attacked by the police.

Click here to learn more about the case.

The Ayotzinapa College was founded in 1926 in the city of Tixtla, in the state of Guerrero, as part of an education project for rural communities. The initiative had the backing of the government throughout much of the 20th century, but it has lost this support in recent years. Of the 36 rural colleges that used to exist around the country, only 17 now remain. The Ayotzinapa school is one of the most important and receives 140 new students every year. In total, more than 500 young people live and study there.

In addition to the ephemeral nature of the date, the mass national and international mobilization proved that, regardless of the place, the language, the religion or the political allegiance, the case is still an unmistakable symbol of the popular discontent surrounding the persistent human rights violations in the country. The hashtag #AyotzinapaSomosTodos (We are all Ayotzinapa) still represents a large portion of the Mexican population.

The march began on the steps of the National Auditorium and continued for eight kilometers in the rain to Constitution Square, known as the Zócalo. The protestors marched for more than seven hours, at a slow pace, chanting their indignation at the negligence of the State in the search for answers. A wide variety of causes were represented in the protest, from student, teacher and peasant groups to human rights organizations. They all posed the same question: where are the 43 students of “Ayotzi”?

This question raises many others. Why were the students attacked? Who were the authorities directly involved? What is the relationship between the government and the drug trade?

To date, the only account of what took place – the official version – has been contested by the families of the students and also by the independent commission of inquiry established by the IACHR (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights) to review the case. The investigation ended up uncovering thousands of other disappearances. According to data from the Mexican government, there have been 22,000 disappearances in the last nine years alone.

Not coincidentally, Ayotzinapa also represents the hope of drawing attention to this structural and endemic problem that has not received the attention of the State. The march on September 26 proved that Mexican civil society is being successful in its campaign not to let this hope die.

*Josefina Cicconetti is a ‘connector’ for Latin America as part the South-South program of Conectas. She travelled to Mexico in September to cover the protests that marked one year since the disappearance of the Ayotzinapa students and to show solidarity with the families of the victims.

Find out more

Receive Conectas updates by email