Empowering Discussions, Social Action

43 Students Disappear – How Can We Fight Corruption and Violence?

It was almost 6 months ago that 43 young students went “missing” in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico. Believed to be handed over to the cartels by the police, these students have never been reunited with their families and never been found. Government officials in Mexico say it was a “case of mistaken identity” carried out by the local mayor of Iguala and a local gang.  Parents of the students allege the corrupt narcogovernment is truly at fault.

Either way, 43 human beings are gone, presumed dead and their families will forever feel this loss.

Forty Three, Cuarenta-Tres. How do that many youth disappear without more public outrage? How do their families continue on with any sense of peace whether they are confirmed dead or if justice is never found?

What if it was your child, grandchild, niece or nephew?

On February 28th, I marched from the Mexican consulate to NBC San Diego studios in an attempt to draw attention to this mass abduction of 43 young students, and call on NBC to cover this story. I stand up and speak out for others because I know that’s a large part of individual empowerment.

Citizens prepare to march in order to draw media attention to the 43 students missing in Mexico


The following is information posted by event organizers “February 26th marks the 5 month anniversary of the forced disappearance of our 43 students. We are marching not only to honor and stand with the families and mothers of our missing students, but to honor the fallen human rights activist Gustavo Salgado, unjustly killed by the same narcogovernment. They continue to lie to the faces of the families about the identification of remains and have still not provided a single cohesive answer. We are standing with the families in solidarity, that we do not believe the lies either, we know the truth that it was the STATE. We are marching for JUSTICE, for TRUTH, because we want them back alive! IF NBC WON’T PUT AYOTZINAPA IN THE NEWS, WE WILL MAKE THEM PUT AYOTZINAPA IN THE NEWS.”

My brother is devastated because his son, Jorge, has been gone for five months, but when he sees these shows of affection and solidarity from so many people across the world, he gets new energy and a new hope,” said Raul Alvarez at a recent march from the Mexican Consulate in Little Italy to the NBC news studio in downtown San Diego.The march, which took place on Saturday, Feb. 28th, was organized by Comité Acción Ayotzinapa, a local organization that has been at the forefront of this movement in San Diego in favor of the missing students’ families.Laprensa-sandiego.org/featured/san-diegans-ask-for-justice-in-ayotzinapa/

In January CNN ran a story about the students. “At a news conference Tuesday, the parents of the students refused to believe authorities, even suggesting the Mexican military might’ve been behind the disappearance of the young men. The students attending a rural teachers college were left-wing, anti-government activists, mostly in their late teens and early twenties.Cnn.com/2015/01/28/americas/mexico-missing-students/

Last week UT San Diego published an article about the problems with Iguala including the opium trade and corrupt politicians. “Some say the problems started when the mafia entered politics — and politicians joined the mafia. Before, “they let (the drugs) pass and agreed to leave the people in peace,” said one local elected official, who requested anonymity due to safety concerns. “The problem is when the mafia decides to enter politics, because then you can no longer instill any respect or sense of order.”

Sofia Mendoza Martinez, an Iguala councilwoman, said there was no dividing line between government leaders and organized crime under Abarca. Her own husband, an agrarian activist, was killed in 2013 after clashing with the now-detained mayor who faces charges in the death. It’s easy for the government to blame it all on organized crime, but often organized crime is taking orders from politicians, said Mendoza, who arrived to an interview with two state police bodyguards. “The federal police are going to leave and we are going to still be here.Utsandiego.com/news/2015/mar/09/mexican-town-where-43-students-disappeared-is/

Citizens rally for media coverage of the 43 students missing in Mexico. the NBC logo is behind them.
Citizens rally for media coverage of the 43 students missing in Mexico. the NBC logo is behind them.

So how do we fight corruption?

  • By calling it out and making sure those who use their power to harm others are removed from power.
  • Find a local organization in your area that is making waves. Join a peaceful rally, march, vigil or other action that draw attention to injustice. 
  • Start a writing letter campaign to apply pressure.
  • Contact your representatives and speak up.
  • Be brave.

If you want change you have to get involved. So what are you waiting for?

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