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Mexican Students Demand Justice for Missing Normalistas of Ayotzinapa

Thousands of Mexican college and high school students gathered on Wednesday to demand justice for the 43 missing normalistas of Ayotzinapa. At more than 30 universities and high schools nationwide, students held rallies in a show of solidarity for those missing, with many reading the names and displaying the photos of the missing normalistas.

Several hundred met later at PGR (Attorney General) headquarters in downtown Mexico City where many expressed their sorrow and anger with performance pieces and loud chants directed at government officials. Some in attendance broke office windows.

While some in the international press have forgotten about this story, Mexican students haven’t. They’re standing up for their fellow student, but most of all, their brother Mexican!

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest on the students of Aytozinapa

Photos credits: La Jornada, Proceso

How U.S. Media Misses the Mark on Ayotzinapa Story

By Ricardo Lezama

En Español

At the Zócalo book fair in Mexico City, autodefensa lawyer, Talía Vázquez, recalled notifying Dr. José Manuel Mireles about the mass graves found in Iguala, Guerrero, and said that Dr. Mireles cried upon receiving the news. Vasquez notes that a frequent task for the auto-defensas in Michoacan was to unearth the remains of missing youth. The judicial system is so broken in Michoacan that these families never reported the homicides. Instead, only vigils were held in their honor.

All of this is to say that the rage with which many Guerrero students have reacted to these shooting deaths and disappearances is echoed throughout Mexico and abroad. Normalista organizing tactics are often criticized in the Mexican and US media, but these observations tend to require an omission of grievances in order for the criticism to appear valid. The murder and kidnapping of Normalista college students has occurred before, but on those occasions there was no international solidarity or national day of action. In fact, during the month of December 2012, there was a skirmish between police and Normalista students, and the few U.S. outlets that covered the news did so in a manner that seemed to justify the violent repression so widely condemned today.

Even in the aftermath of the Ayotzinapa deaths, media outlets in the United States fail to provide the level of depth in their coverage necessary to understand why Guerrero students are out in protest, why they need special rural colleges or why their lives have become the target of state repression. Answers to these questions are instead replaced with superficial terms that supposedly provide insight into the identity of the Normalistas.

For instance, in an October 6 story, Vice News used the term “ ardently leftist politics” to characterize the stances of Normalistas. Additionally, they mentioned that “Visiting the Ayotzinapa Normal School is like entering a time warp, or landing in Communist Cuba. Portraits of Che, Marx, Lenin, and Engels adorn the interior walls, accompanied by images of the 1970s Mexican guerrilla leader Lucio Cabañas”. However, many, including Cabañas himself were ardent teachers first, guerilla tactic practicioners second. In the 1960′s, Cabañas also made calls for a halt in kidnappings and extrajudicial killings, and once said that he was not necessarily aligned with the notion of ‘leftist.’

As the reporter herself notes: “the school had been swarmed by national and foreign reporters, many of them pressing parents insensitively about their missing children.” The irony is that coverage of the type she provides would necessarily classify her as insensitive. In a most insensitive tone, with a headline reading “Smells of Burnt Flesh,” she notes how her news outlet received “access to several of the six grave sites where the missing normalistas were likely buried” and somehow weaves the official position of the Mexican government into the discourse.

Vice somehow took a story about popular education and political repression in Mexico, and turned it into a high-level discussion of the Drug War from the Mexican (and US) government’s perspective, highlighting the discovery of Meth Labs in the area. While narco-traffickers were signaled as the people who attacked the students, the conflict has always been between the government and the Normalistas.

For this reason, Mexican activist pressure remains on the government. They demand the removal of Guerrero’s governor, and a thorough investigation leading to the arrest of government officials and police. There are witness reports indicating the presence of military personnnel during the actual shooting deaths. This implies a need to examine the U.S. role in providing training to various military and police personnel.

An important detail is the international response to the Iguala massacre. While the Vice article notes the presence of Argentine forensic experts, it fails to note calls for an independent investigation in parallel with the official state investigation. Amnesty International has raised its own concerns about the investigation, none of which factor into Vice’s coverage.

Humanizing the Normalistas, not just presenting a play-by-play of the gory events that took place in Iguala (recall the note about “flesh”), is what responsible journalists covering the event must do today. Shifting the focus to grievances is key. Noting the constructive actions demanded throughout Mexico and internationally is essential to contextualizing these events. Otherwise, Vice simply adds to the dissonance and confusion they presumably aim to dissipate through their coverage.

Ricardo Lezama is a linguist from Santa Ana, California. He also works as a software engineer at a tech company, and is the founder of Follow him at Twitter at @ricardoblezama.

This article was originally posted at La Cartita

2 Years Later: José Antonio Elena Rodríguez’s Mom Still Wants Answers

“We want the U.S. government to stop killing our kids.” - Gabriela López, José Antonio’s aunt

Just after 11:30 p.m., two years ago Friday, the shots rang out.

A Border Patrol agent, aiming through a narrow opening in the border fence, emptied all 12 rounds from his .40-caliber pistol. He reloaded and continued firing, riddling a teenage boy in the back and head, leaving him face-down in a pool of his own blood.

The Border Patrol said the agent fired at rock-throwers; witnesses say the boy killed was just walking down the street.

During the two years since José Antonio Elena Rodríguez, 16, was shot to death, much has changed. New policies inside Customs and Border Protection, federal court rulings and public pressure are combining in ways that may help prevent similar contentious deaths.

But some things remain the same.

Two years on, Araceli Rodríguez still seeks to know who killed her son and why.

Read more at the Arizona Republic

Also read: Nogales Marks Two-year Anniversary of Teen’s Shooting

Photos: Michael Chow, The Republic

"Su Rabia También Es la Nuestra": Apoyo a los Normalistas de Ayotzinapa en Mexico y el Extranjero

Ciudad de Mexico, 8 de octubre de 201: En esta capital, Chilpancingo, Nueva York, Río de Janeiro y muchas más urbes en el mundo, miles de personas exigieron la aparición con vida de los 43 normalistas de Ayotzinapa desaparecidos en Iguala.

Mexico Takes to the Streets for Students of Ayotzinapa

Mexicans took to the streets on Wednesday in impromptu marches in support of students from a rural teachers’ college in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, who were murdered and disappeared in late September. Police officers and cartel members are suspected of burying the students in mass graves, which were discovered on Saturday. The public outcry led to a call for a national march to demand justice.

More than 50 cities participated from Chiapas to Baja California.

Photos via Proceso, La Jornada, Zacatecas 3.0

Little Mystery to Iguala Mass Graves: Mexico’s Drug War Is Killing Children

By Laura Carlsen

Young people are now targeted by the very people sworn to protect them. If this isn’t the ultimate duplicity of abusive law enforcement, what is?

Image: Mexican soldier guards mass grave site in the outskirts of Iguala, Guerrero, where at least 28 burned bodies were discovered on Saturday, which authorities say could belong to 43 students who went missing in late September.

Many countries prohibit deploying their military for domestic law enforcement: it’s a recipe for violent authoritarian abuse.

But the Obama administration’s prohibitionist drug war is funding and encouraging abuse and brutal, corrupt, mass-grave-level murders throughout Mexico and Central America – enough that even drug-war apologists admit that the appalling increase in human-rights abuses are a result of sending the military and police into communities in the name of anti-trafficking.

In just nine years, the drug war waged by the US and Mexico has created a climate of violence that has claimed more than 100,000 lives throughout the country, many young people – including two horrific massacres and a mass disappearance in the last six months connected to law enforcement nominally tasked with battling the spread of drugs.

An ambush on 26 September, begun by uniformed local police and finished off by an armed commando, left six young people dead and 43 students missing, nearly half of whom were last seen in police custody. Others are battling for their lives in local hospitals (where the possibility of a new attack is considered so high that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ordered precautionary measures for the wounded and the missing). This week, 28 semi-burned bodies were discovered in a mass grave, which authorities say could be the bodies of the missing students. Politicians allied with cartels are blamed for the atrocity.

The mayor of Iguala, Guerrero, where the attacks took place, has gone into hiding, and the city’s head of security is charged with ordering the ambush. A state judge has charged 22 policemen with the crime and accused them of being hit men for the “Guerreros Unidos” gang.

This latest massacre followed the massacre of 22 young people in Tlatlaya, Mexico State, on 30 June in what was originally said to be a confrontation between the 102nd army battalion and a local gang. But evidence from eyewitnesses and forensics now indicates that the soldiers executed the kids, and eight army personnel are under indictment.

The collusion of government and organized crime is so frequent in Mexico that it forms part of the structure and operations of both in many parts of the country. And the lack of justice for crimes committed by members of this alliance is nothing new. But rarely – if ever – have so-called public servants so openly attacked civilians.

The dead and missing students in the latest massacre come from poor, farming families and attended the Ayotzinapa teacher-training college, which provides rural areas with needed teachers and young people with education and careers. The revolutionary-era schools are rooted in the government’s commitment to education and social equality, and continue to sustain the dreams of poor, often indigenous, young people to forge a better future for themselves, their families and their country. In the wake of economic reforms and the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), though, the federal government has targeted the schools for elimination (and a clash between protesting students and the police in 2011 resulted in the death of two students).

Officials stated that the Guerreros Unidos gang was angry with those students for hurting their local businesses and used corrupt government authorities to teach them a lesson – but state actors also had reason to wipe out a focal point of resistance to unpopular national reforms and a school with a reputation as a protest leader. The earlier massacre seems to be the result of the extrajudicial execution of alleged “delinquents” in an operation resembling social cleansing. A recent report by the UN Special Rapporteur found “an alarmingly high rate” of summary executions of supposed cartel or gang members by Mexican security forces.

A nation that murders dissident or disaffected youth destroys its future.

Mexico’s young people have been targeted by the very people who are supposed to protect them at a moment in national history when their future is at stake. The government’s economic reforms, widely hailed as progress in the United States, puts the nation’s development and resources in the hands of a transnational private sector that does not exactly have a reputation for providing for the poor and disadvantaged.

Meanwhile, militarizing Mexico in the name of narcotics control has worked against the peace and democracy the US claims that it promotes. Not only has the drug war made the already-lucrative drug trade more violent by increasing competition among the cartels, it also has established a network of state-crime alliances that can – and are – being used for political purposes.

The war on drugs has never controlled drug trafficking and has always been about social control. Now it’s Mexico’s youth that are paying the price of that duplicity.

Laura Carlsen is a political writer and analyst and the director of the Americas Program of the Center for International Policy. Follow her on Twitter at @cipamericas.

This article was originally published at The Guardian

Oct. 8: Worldwide Action for Students of Ayotzinapa

In solidarity with the 43 missing students from the rural teaching college of Ayotzinapa, more than 50 cities in Mexico and dozens throughout the world are planning to take to the streets to demand justice for them and their families.

A mass grave in the outskirts of Iguala, Guerrero was found on Saturday. Investigators believe it may contain the remains of the missing students, but say DNA tests to confirm their identities will take several weeks.

In the meantime, Mexicans are outraged. Wednesday, October 8, tens of thousands are expected to march in most of Mexico’s major cities. Abroad, demonstrations will be held at consulates and embassies.

Visit Más de 131 for a full list of cities:

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