“Give them back” – Elena Poniatowska, speech in the Zócalo of Mexico City
La Jornada, 26th October, 2014
43 Disappeared Ayotzinapa Normal School Students,
drawn by Mexican illustrators
Journalist París Martínez took upon herself to develop profiles of the 43 disappeared students by talking with their friends and relatives. It is the right thing to do to remember each one. So I ask that after the name and description of each young man, we might say in unison: "Give Him Back,"…
- Jhosivani Guerrero de la Cruz, 20, from Omeapa; skinny, with a slender face, slanted eyes, nicknamed Korean*.He walks four kilometres [2.5 miles] to the highway to catch the bus and four kilometres back because he wants to be an elementary school teacher in Omeapa, his land.
- Luis Abarca Angel Carrillo, 21, of Costa Chica, San Antonio, municipality of Cuautepec, they nicknamed him Amiltzingo. Very affectionate, he is a member of the "Activist House" in which the students can register to receive political training. The name of Lucio Cabañas resonates inside there. The rich people of Guerrero consider Cabañas to be a disruptive influence on normal school students, because they are always seeking to emulate the guerrilla Lucio Cabañas, who was also a teacher. 3. Marco Antonio Gómez Molina, 20, from Tixtla, is nicknamed Tuntúnbecause he loves to play rock music, he really likes "Saratoga," "Extravaganza" "Hell’s Angels". "He is also buddy who always makes us laugh in the Activist House."
4. Saúl Bruno García, 18, is known as Chicharrón[Pork Rinds], and he is "desmadroso" [wild], he is one who is always trying to make you laugh, full of jokes and very friendly. He is from Tecuanapa; the ring finger of his left hand is missing because it got caught in a grinder when he was making corn meal. Saúl Bruno García shaved all the heads in the "Activist House." A mate had pictures of him on his cell phone doing the shaving, but the police took it away.
- Jorge Antonio Tizapa Legideño, from Tixtla, 20. His mother says he has a dimple on his left cheek. He enjoys working in the field planting grains and vegetables, because they never get resources from the state government for the 500 [Normal School] students.
- Abel Garcia Hernandez, 19, from Tecuanapa is a peasant youth with a spot behind his right ear; he is skinny and measures 1.62 meters [5' 3"] tall.
7. Carlos Lorenzo Hernández Muñoz, 19, was baptized "el Frijolito" [The Little Bean] and is from the Coast [Guerrero is on the Pacific Ocean]. A talker, he is always willing to help people. "El Frijolitowas first in line to donate blood when they asked for donations to help a sick person in Tixtla."
8. Adán Abraján de la Cruz, 20, peasant, is from the El Fortin neighborhood in Tixtla, a town guarded by Community Police. He is on El Fortín’s soccer team, the Pyrotechnics. His friends consider him a good soccer player….
- Felipe Arnulfo Rosa, 19, is a peasant farmer on a ranch in the Municipality of Ayutla. He fell on his back when he was a little boy and still has a scar on his neck. 10. Emiliano Alen Gaspar de la Cruz, was christened "Pilas" ["Stacks"], for being smart. "He never gets ruffled; he is calm and reasons better than the others. He likes to have everything in its place." Emiliano was one of 20 first-year students who, two months ago, were enrolled in the Activist House. Ten members of Activist House are among the 43 students abducted on September 26.
11. César Manuel González Hernández, 19, is from Huamantla, Tlaxcala, ‘wild’, he was nicknamed "Panotla" but they also call him "Marinela" because once, in Jalisco, he brought the pickup truck of the company that makes little cakes.
12. Jorge Alvarez Nava, "El Chabelo", 19, is from the Municipality of Juan R. Escudero, Guerrero. He has a scar on his right eye, and he is quiet. "He never disturbs anyone, never says anything rude, and his patience is such that he never disrespects anyone. He is one of the most sensitive of Activist House students … His parents are waiting for him at the Ayotzinapa Normal School sport field. They hold him close by talking to him."
- José Eduardo Bartolo Tlatempa, 17, is from Tixtla, a first-year student at the Rural Normal. His father is a bricklayer by trade and hopes that his son might be professional. 14. Israel Jacinto Lugardo, 19, is from Atoyac. His friends nicknamed him "Chukyto". His mother holds a poster with her son’s photo and shows it to motorists during the seizure of the Palo Blanco toll booth on the [Mexico City-Acapulco] Highway of the Sun. "He is medium strong, has a scar on his head. His skin is light brown, his nose half-flattened. He’s a good kid. He came with great enthusiasm to study."
15. Antonio Santana Maestro, nicknamed "El Copy" because he speaks well in public. He is recognized in the Activist House as one who seeks out other youths. El Copy"plays the guitar, he also likes video games, playing with the PSP … but what he loves most is reading … ."
16. Christian Tomás Colón Garnica, 18, from Tlacolula de Matamoros, Oaxaca. His father travelled from their land when the abduction of the 43 young normal school students was first reported. "I am a day labourer. I make 600 pesos [USD$44.50] weekly, maximum, and that’s when there’s work, because sometimes there is no work. My boy wants to be a teacher. That is the job he wants, but they stopped him, they arrested him … What are we going to do?!"
- Luis Ángel Francisco Arzola, 20, his normal school classmates know him as "Cochilandia", but no one knows why. He arrived with the nickname. "He is a serious, hardworking guy, and here we are waiting, and we want him to know that we are not going to stop until he is found." 18. Miguel Ángel Mendoza Zecharía, 23, from Apango, Municipality of Mártir de Cuilapa. His classmates, who are between 17 and 20 years old, consider that "he is already great." In his village, Apango, he was a barber to get ahead. He is a short guy, "chido" [fantastic], according to his buddies because he supports them, gives advice, he gives everything in exchange for nothing. He took care of his parents and his brothers. He was on the bus leaving Iguala sitting next to a classmate "but the gunshots started and, unfortunately, he ran to one side and I ran to the other side. The Iguala police arrested him. I managed to escape, but since then I cannot find him ….."
19. Benjamín Ascencio Bautista, 19, from Chilapa. They call him "Glutton" because one day he ate all the cookies on a table during a conference. Prior to entering the Rural Normal School of Ayotzinapa, he was the community educator from the National Council for Educational Development (CONAFE), which prepares volunteers to teach literacy in marginalized, isolated, rural and indigenous populations around the country.
20. Alexander Mora Venancia, 19, from El Pericón, Municipality of Tecuanapa, Guerrero. No one could dissuade him from the idea of being a teacher. He likes to give classes. First he helped in the fields, but wanted to study … "And I demand," says his father, "that the government do its job as it should be done, that it not cover up for those responsible for the massacre that the Iguala police and its mayor committed. As they took them alive, I want them back alive ….."
- Leonel Castro Abarca, 21, from the peasant community of El Magueyito, Municipality of Tecuanapa. He has no nickname. To his friends "he is a serious person, but with a sense of humour. He dreams of becoming a teacher, to help his people get ahead." 22. Everardo Rodriguez Bello, 21, is from Omeapa. He is known as El "Shaggy" because he looks like Scooby Doo. An auto mechanic technician, since CONALEP [technical high school], he is very angry with inequality especially when it comes to food: "If they give you six tortillas and him five [tortillas], he protests."
23. Doriam González Parral, 19, is from Xalpatláhuac, Guerrero. He is stocky and "looks like a little boy", "and so they call him "Kinder". "He’s very funny when he relaxes. He has a brother in the Normal … The brothers came together. Their fraternity is notorious, and the two were kidnapped together …."
- Jorge Luis Gonzalez Parral, 21, is Doriam’s older brother. He is a serious fellow who has worked in various tortilla shops, but he wanted to get ahead and chose to be a teacher like Kinder, his brother. His nickname is "Charra" because he has a scar on his leg as if it had been made with a charrasca[special knife] … "
25. Marcial Pablo Baranda, 20, speaks an indigenous language and wants to be a bilingual teacher alongside other bilingual teachers who come from even poorer villages. He’s short, cool, cousin of Jorge Luis and Doriam, and his friends nicknamed him "Magallón" because his family has a tropical band of that name; they sing songs from their land on the Costa Chica [Little Coast on Pacific Ocean]. He was always singing cumbiasand playing the trumpet and snare drums.
- Jorge Anibal Cruz Mendoza, from Xalpatláhuac is also part of Kinder’sgroup. They call him "Chivo" [Goat]. "Even though he is serious, he gets along with everyone because he doesn’t cause problems …." 27. Abelardo Vasquez Peniten, a native of Atliaca, Guerrero, likes to play soccer. At a recent game, he made a lot of goals … "Never causing problems, he is given respect because he never disrespected or went around criticizing anyone. Besides playing soccer, he loves to grab a book and he grabs one and another, and another."
- Cutberto Ortíz Ramosis from Atoyac. They call him "The Komander", because he bears some resemblance to the singer of northern corridos[popular folk ballads about legendary characters]. "He has a very strong look, is robust, tall, friendly, responds in a good way. He likes to work in the school’s farm fields … And he loves to tell a joke about SpongeBob, he laughs and perfectly imitates SpongeBob’s laugh … " 29. Bernardo Flores Alcaraz, 21, peasant farmer, "has a mole on his chest like a little cat hand … He has high hopes of being a teacher and helping children and adults who don’t know how to read or write. In rural Mexico, there are many people behind in education and his dream is to teach them … The 43 normal school students were collecting funds to carry out their activities, it wasn’t worth cutting off their lives and leaving them lying in their own blood … ."
- Jesús Jovany Rodriguez Tlatempa, 21, from Tixtla, is nicknamed Churro. He is the oldest of four children and "the sole support of his mother," according to his cousin who marched for five hours holding aloft a banner with his portrait. They invited him to the day of boteo[going around asking the public for donations] on September 26. "He is a most noble young man, who supports a one-year old niece because his sister is a single mom, and he serves as a father figure." His cousin furiously demands his safe return and asks justice for the youths of Tlatlaya in the state of Mexico. 31. Mauricio Ortega Valerio, 18, is from Matlalapa or Matlinalapa in La Montaña[Mountain] region of Guerrero. He is nicknamed "Espinosa", because when they shaved his head–a tradition at the Normal School of Ayotzinapa for incoming first-year students –he ended up with a certain resemblance to the singer Espinosa Paz.
32. Martín Getsemany Sánchez García, 20, from Zumpango, likes to play soccer, and he cheers for Cruz Azul. His entire family is looking for him. He has eight brothers; during the march on Wednesday, October 22, in Chilpancingo, his family carried a banner with his photo.
33. Magdaleno Rubén Lauro Villegas, 19, known as El Magda, "is a quiet and noble mate who studies to become a bilingual teacher, in order to teach indigenous children who do not speak Spanish…"
- Giovanni Galindo Guerrero, 20, is known as the Espáider[Spider], "because he is skinny and has its own style of running and jumping as if he were climbing on cobwebs like Spiderman ….." 35. José Luis Luna Torres, 20, is from Amilzingo, Morelos. His friends call him Pato, because "he looks like Pato Donald[Donald Duck] and he has a voice like a duck. He is serious, quiet, he always speaks well with you, he’s cool, but he’s quiet and isn’t wild."
36. Julio César López Patolzin, 25, from Tixtla "has no nickname. We simply call him El Julio. He’s a cool dude, but quietly, he doesn’t need much relaxation, he’s always nice … "
37. Jonás Trujillo González, is from the Costa Grande [Great Coast], Municipality of Atoyác de Álvarez. "We call himBeni because his brother is also at the Ayotzinapa Normal, but in the second year and he is called Benito … So … they are the Benis … He is tall, chubby and he gets along well with his brother. The two are very similar, although the younger brother is taller and has lighter skin."
38. Miguel Ángel Hernández Martinez, 27, is nicknamed "El Botita" [The Bootie] because they call his older brother, who is also studying at the Normal School, "El Bota" [The Boot] so, automatically, they made him "El Botita", even though he is of average height and fat, nothing wild, always friendly, healthy, not heavy: "He’s not disruptive, he’s cool, willing to give a hand, considerate of others, a very supportive guy with everyone; in class he explained to the teacher, and we held the suspension of classes ….."
- Christian Alfonso Rodríguez, 21, of Tixtla longs to be a teacher and likes folk dance. We called him "Hugo" because he always wore Hugo Boss T-shirts. During the march on Wednesday, October 22, his cousin became hoarse from explaining: "He’s not just my cousin, he is my friend … he is a very hard-working person, very dedicated to studying and to dance. It is unjust that someone who works so hard and strives like this, should suffer tragic consequences at the hand of the government." 40. José Ángel Navarrete González, 18, shares a room inside the Normal with two other young men. Their room does not have a single piece of furniture, not even beds, only tattered sheets of foam rubber.
41. Carlos Iván Ramírez Villarreal, 20, is called "El Diablito" [The Little Devil]. But "the truth is that he is good, he doesn’t interfere with anyone, he is calm, he wants to be someone, but in a good way …."
- José Ángel Campos Cantor, 33, from Tixtla, is the oldest of the 43 missing Normal School students. "Although he was the oldest, he never abused the others; on the contrary, he supported everyone, he is a friend to all ….."
- Israel Caballero Sánchezis a native of Atliaca, a small town halfway between Tixtla and Apango. They call him "Aguirrito" because he’s chubby. He is preparing to be a teacher in indigenous communities and when his mates call him Aguirrito, he protests: "Don’t be bastards, don’t give me that shit ….."
One month after the disappearance of 43 youths from Ayotzinapa Rural Normal School by the Municipal Police of Iguala, Guerrero, here in the capital of Mexico, we demand the presence of the youths. Here under the open sky, we ask out loud:
"Give Them Back."
The Rural Normal School of Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, is very poor, but it is the only place where those who have nothing can receive a free higher education. It is the only option for peasants who have chosen to be rural teachers. The dormitories of the students at the Normal School make clear the poverty and abandonment of these kids. Also their meals. When one was served milk, he exclaimed that it was the first time he had tasted it; smiling, he said he liked it. As with the milk, there are a lot of foods that these boys aren’t familiar with. Their shirts, backpacks, sweaters hung on hooks on the walls of the empty room, their plastic utensils, all of it are the belongings of the poor.
Now is the time for the poor in Mexico to speak. Now is the time for citizens to speak out above the political parties. Now is the time for us to be consulted. Being consulted is a political right that residents of the 32 states of Mexico have demanded for a long time. Thousands of us Mexicans do not feel represented, thousands of Mexicans who want a participatory democracy, thousands of Mexicans who speak up and ask to be taken into account in public matters–above all, in matters of national importance such as our energy future.
The major issues concern us. But above all they concern the young people. Apart from being the future, they have to provide for staying alive. Without the younger generation there is simply no country. As the saying goes, "Without corn, there is no country," so without the young people there is nothing.
On Wednesday, October 23–in a march that NOT one sole political party convened–citizens themselves organized and held an exemplary protest, absolutely exceptional. The march was five times larger than that reported by the media: 350,000 people. A river of people kept coming and thronged the streets to the Zócalo until they were full to bursting.
The crowd was protesting against the Ayotzinapa crime, a crime against humanity. The students were hunted, subjected to torture even to death, forced disappearance, arbitrary execution, and now the perpetrators want to shirk their responsibility by accusing the youths and seeking to criminalize them by seeking to link them to "The Reds" or "Warriors United" cartels.
It doesn’t work to divert the investigation from the facts and slip in at press conferences that this is about a clash between drug cartels. Nor does it work trying to implicate the youths in guerrilla groups. The "Iguala case" is an atrocious stain on the official and political life of our country, which is already mired in the mud.
Ayotzinapa is shattered. Mexico is shattered. The students at the Ayotzinapa Normal School keep their classmates’ broken tennis shoes, their clothes, even the cardboard that served as their beds. They await their return despite the fact that the extraordinary priest, Alejandro Solalinde, protector of migrants … says that several eyewitnesses told him that the students had been killed, dismembered and thrown into a pit to which they set fire. No response is adequate before a crime so great. The photograph of Julio César Mondragón, the student from the state of Mexico whose eyes they gouged out, circulates on the Internet, with his face flayed.
We are facing a national disaster. In five states there are protests in support of the 43 disappeared. Mexico is bleeding to death. The international community is scandalized. It believes that for young people, among countries not at war, Mexico is now the most dangerous. Young people mutilated, disembodied, murdered. The outrage resonates throughout the entire world.
… Or as Gloria Muñoz Ramírez asks:
"Where has the terror come from that the government has implanted in the bosom of society?"
Before the terror only the union of a people remains, of a people who rise up and shout as has been done for days:
"Alive you took them, alive we want them back."
Translated by Jane Brundage