Background information about the horrific student massacre in Guerrero, Mexico
From OWS Zapatista
Some activists have asked us for background information about the massacre of the students from Ayotzinapa School in the city of Iguala in Guerrero, Mexico. There is not much information circulating in English, so here is more in case you want to know:
The Ayotzinapa School is an iconic school for elementary rural teachers (that’s what the word "normalista" means, because they are teachers of "escuela normal" which means "elementary school"). So when we say "students," that is what they are, but they are studying to be teachers. They are mostly indigenous people and peasants. The school is located in the heart of the mountains (the Sierra), in a very, very, very poor rural area. It is iconic because it is where two important teachers in the 60s and the 70s started a guerrilla movement that truly challenged the system. These important guerrilla leaders were Genaro Vázquez and Lucio Cabañas. They were both teachers, and they first organized non-violent civil rights groups demanding social justice, but they became guerrilla leaders because they found out that there is absolutely no way for people to learn how to read and count numbers if they cannot eat, and Guerrero is a very poor state where people literally starve to death while rich tourists in Acapulco and Iztapa celebrate Film Festivals and Book Fairs. (This is not a metaphor: there was a film festival with James Stewart in Acapulco in the 60s while the guerrilleros were killed in the Sierra and now the Governor of Guerrero wanted to go on with his International Book Fair after the massacre of the students). The governors of Guerrero have been always tyrants linked to anti-guerrilla death squads, the Government counter-insurgency "dirty war" and organized crime. Sadly, this is not the first massacre either (Aguas Blancas 1995). What makes it different is that the Governor of Guerrero and the Mayor of the Iguala City were "selected" by the former Mayor of Mexico City, AMLO, the same man who hired Rudolph Giuliani in Mexico City to apply his "Zero Tolerance" plan against crime, and is considered to be a "leftist" and "the hope for the future". So as you can see, under a capitalist system, these "leftist" leaders who decide to be part of the problem are never part of the solution.
The school has a high level of demand each year, with about 600 people applying, but it only has seats for 140 new students each year because the Government has been always willing to close it. It does not close it because it cannot, since the school has a lot of support from the communities.
Which explains part of what happened: the students were preparing a rally for October 2, the anniversary of another student massacre (1968), and they were planning to boycott the Mayor’s wife ceremony (her annual report as head of some activities first ladies are assigned to in Mexico, but in this case the wife is also involved in the organized crime). With the permission of the bus drivers, they "borrowed" two buses which they were going to bring back later, as they usually did. This is indeed illegal, but it was also customary and a non-violent action which does not justify what happened next.
The Mayor got angry when he learnrd that they were going to protest at his wife’s official ceremony and ordered the Chief of Police to "take care of them". The police department of that city is so involved in organized crime, that they shot some of them without even arresting them (according to the testimony of two students who survived), then they arrested the rest and handed them to the drug-smuggler assassins to torture and murder them. One of them was flayed. The others were tortured. There are non-confirmed testimonies that the rest of the students were also tortured and their bodies burned.
The search for their bodies has also uncovered the existence of many mass graves. Iguala City, where the massacre occurred, is a bridge city for drug smugglers, the main cartel there being named "Guerreros Unidos" ("United Warriors"). All kinds of drugs are sent from there mainly to Acapulco Harbour, but also to other harbours. It is also an area of poppy cultivation.
The Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, which conducted the caravan of victims of organized crime, led by poet Javier Sicilia (who came here visiting OWS and actually had an action in HSBC Bank), proposes to end organized crime by legalizing drugs. They say it is the only way to stop that spiral of violence, but their proposal is highly criticized by corporate media, because it challenges the capitalist system.
The Zapatista communities joined the international protest this past October 22 lighting "a candle of dignity for Ayotzinapa" and here is their statement in English: http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2014/10/23/joint-declaration-from-the-national-indigenous-congress-and-the-ezln-on-the-crime-in-ayotzinapa-and-for-the-liberation-of-the-yaqui-leaders/
We will continue protesting here in New York this Sunday in Union Square at 3:00 pm and then we will decide what’s next regarding Ayotzinapa and also future actions in NYC against the construction of an airport in Atenco.
OCCUPY WALL ST ZAPATISTA
(Background information from Malú, a Mexican writer who has been supporting the Zapatista movement for 20 years and has been supporting the Occupy movement since September 2011.)
- Lucio Cabañas was eventually found, tortured and killed by the head of the anti-guerrilla police at that time, a CIA agent named Nassar Haro.