Nationwide Protests in Mexico Over Missing Students

Sunnie Yi Ning '18 Contributing Writer

Over 50,000 furious Mexicans marched in Mexico City and 50 other Mexican cities to protest against the government’s irresponsiveness to the disappearance of 43 students in September. Mexico’s top prosecutor, Jesus Murillo Karam, said that the mayor of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, and his wife “ordered attack” on these students. The mayor and first lady are now fugitives.

On Sept. 26, a group of students from Ayotzinapa’s Normal School, a teacher training college in Ayotzinapa known for its left-wing activism, protested against educational policies. The students have been missing since Sept. 26, after the police opened fire on the unarmed students and killed three of them in Iguala.

Whether the students are alive is still a mystery. Some suspected that the students were slaughtered, as a mass grave was recently discovered outside the town. However, initial testing indicates otherwise. The leader of Guerreros Unidos claimed that the police passed off students to his gang, telling him the students were members of a rival gang.

A total of 52 people, including police officers, local officials and gang members have been arrested in the case.

Demonstrations have been ongoing since Oct. 2, and people from more cities and countries have joined the protest demanding justice for the missing students. The demonstrations have given rise to the voice of students, local gangs, political parties, unions and other organizations.

The demonstrations reveal underlying problems in Mexico that convey budding anger against the government. Mexico has endured years of a U.S.-backed drug war that has witnessed the death more than 70,000 people and greatly fractured the country. In Guerrero state, where Iguala is, many local government officials are leaders of drug cartels. The city is plagued by social unrest, poverty and high homicide rate. Many demonstrators are outraged by the level of corruption and collusion present in Mexico. The case of the missing students has further shaken their trust in the government.

While student protests have spread to London, Paris, Vienna and Buenos Aires, the subject has received little media attention in the U.S., a neighbor of Mexico, despite the United States being heavily involved in the ongoing drug war and cartel violence – both of which are behind the missing students.

This tragedy deserves greater media attention. It is distressing that many have turned an apathetic eye away from the missing students. It must be understood that to choose not to speak up against injustice is to give consent to it. Despite the chaotic political situation in Mexico, there are people advocating for greater justice, and they must be supported within the United States.

Violence and injustice will be present until we protest against them. Our media needs to cover more issues of injustice in Mexico. But most importantly, we need to stay tuned, inform others and act in support of each other.