September 26, 2014 in Iguala, Guerrero. I was up late as usual since I work night shift. I slowly got word of something happening there and like many stories of violence in Mexico, I assumed it was just another case of cartel violence. Freelance and at the time unknown journalists made their way there as the word spread that something major had happened. I remember the first photo that surfaced, the bodies of two Ayotzinapa students on the rain soaked streets in Iguala.
It should be noted that journalism in Mexico is a deadly profession. Normalista students came under gunfire, they also attacked journalists trying to cover the still unfolding story. One journalist reports it as the story was still happening, “journalists are attacked with gunfire as they cover the events in Iguala, nobody was injured.”
That night was horrific, two students dead from police gunfire. Then it was confirmed that a bus driver, a woman in a taxi and a young football player were also killed. The story gave more light as the sun began to rise, the body of another student was found with the skin from his face torn off and his eyes removed. I won’t post the photo, his daughter will one day find that picture as she wants to learn about the father she never knew. Keep that in mind and keep his daughter in your thoughts and prayers as you digest this. The story would later say that police were working under the orders of organized crime. As expected, the news shifted the blame away from the authorities and onto organized crime. An attempt at erasing this as just an unfortunate incident of the drug wars in Mexico. Something the world could just brush off as a usual day in Mexico.
What’s so infuriating is that the story is in itself within the excuse. Police worked under the orders of organized crime. The police, a state institution, is really under the thumb of organized crime. Doesn’t take an expert on Mexican affairs to come to the conclusion that organized crime and the government are interchangeable entities. Don’t fall into the usual trappings that this was cartel violence, it was state violence. Fue el estado, it was the state.
You will come across multiple articles blaming the disappearance and murders that night on a local cartel. The loudest voices are those coming from the Mexican authorities. Don’t be fooled, they’re just trying to cover their own tracks. Police carried out the attacks on the students and the government even a year later, are still insisting it was just the usual cartel violence, albeit misdirected cartel violence. Something they can absolve their own involvement in. Independent studies have concluded that the Mexican authorities at best, have completely tarnished the investigation to the crimes committed that night. At the very worst and becoming more obvious, have covered up the crime they have themselves carried out.
The latest theory on why the attacks on the students happened backs up the obvious, police were working for organized crime. The newest theory as to what happened goes as follows; the fifth bus omitted from the official story, the only bus that wasn’t shot up by the police was carrying a shipment of drugs or money. So the police under the orders of a local cartel were dispatched to intercept it. No matter what angle you look at this, the cops worked for the cartel. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, organized crime and the state are one hand, including the police.
So the new investigations poke holes in the official government story, but it still gives the authorities the classic excuse we hear in Mexico countless times; a few crooked cops worked with a cartel. Well, let’s go back in time to 2011. No shipment of drugs or cash was at stake. Cartels had nothing to worry about, no orders given from them to those ever present, few crooked cops. Normalista students protested on a highway, two were shot dead. You must understand that life is cheap in Mexico. Even cheaper are the lives of those that dedicate their lives to fighting to improve the value of life.
Attacks on leftist students is nothing new, it goes even further back than 2011. We can go back to 1968
The Iguala massacre is covered in a book, “La Noche Mas Triste.” The saddest night. The 1968 student massacre was called, the night of sorrow. Mexico is full of sadness and sorrow, it is part of our history. It is what we’re supposed to be accustomed to. We never will become accustomed to this, it is expected of us but much like the students of 1968 and the students of Ayotzinapa, we expect better. Sadly, as the narrator in the video of the 1968 Tlatelolco Massacre states, “the world barely noticed.”
It’s been a year since that sad night in Iguala that will forever haunt Mexico. The parents continue to fight to find their disappeared children and some semblance of justice. That is a daunting task in a country where the vast majority of crimes go unsolved. They have met with the president twice and have twice been lied to, they’ve stated the only allies they have are the people who march with them and spread their voices. With statistics from the authorities such as those above you can see why that is their reality. All I ask is that you remember that this is beyond political, this is about parents wanting to find their children. I don’t know how you can help. I’ve been asked on twitter by many kind people on what they can do to help. Sadly I have to answer again and again, I don’t know. I just ask that you don’t forget about their mothers or leave them alone. They’re screaming and crying for their children. Don’t leave them alone.