Ayotzinapa and the New Civic Insurgency

By: Luis Hernández Navarro

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In Chilpancingo, Guerrero, hundreds of people, principally students, stoned the headquarters of the state government and burned some 20 vehicles.

Fire devours a vehicle in front of the Chilpancingo government palace. On the chassis of another overturned (vehicle), above one of its sides, furious hands painted: “Justicia.” Guerrero is in flames.

The fire that devours public buildings and vehicles expresses the increasing rage and indignation of youths in the state. It is the thermometer of a civic and popular insurgency with generous encouragement that shakes its entire territory, and extends to more municipalities and sectors. It is the evidence of an ire that is radicalized more and more with each day that passes.

At first, the first protests centred on local authorities and the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Municipal buildings and offices of the Aztec Sun were burned. The flames of rage later extended to Ángel Aguirre, the governor on leave. Now they have reached President Enrique Peña Nieto. The demand for his resignation is a clamour throughout the length and breadth of the state and the country.

Around 22 of the 81 of the state’s municipalities are taken over. The count grows every day. Occupations on public plazas surge like mushrooms. The revolt not only places an obstacle to the good functioning of the municipal councils; the crowd analyses jump-starting parallel governments.

As a result of the civil uprising, the local economy functions at a stumble. The hotels are empty. The interminable roadblocks strangle transportation of cargo and passengers. The ring around the large business centres stops commercial transactions.

This new civic and popular insurgency reminds us of what the state lived through between 1957 and 1962, against the despotic Governor Raúl Caballero Aburto and in favour of democratization, to which the federal government responded with two massacres (Chilpancingo in 1960 and Iguala in 1962), and that culminated, years later, with the formation of the Revolutionary National Civic Association (Asociación Cívica Nacional Revolucionaria, ACNR), led by the professor Genaro Vázquez Rojas.

The current revolt has its spinal column in the normalistas, teachers, community police and campesino organizations. Their long tradition of struggle and organizational experience are the substratum that maintains the mobilization. Nevertheless, the uprising goes well beyond that. Even business people participate in some regions.

Insurgent organizations have existed in Guerrero for 45 years. According to a journalistic inventory, 23 of them have publicly shown themselves since 1994. There is serious evidence of the presence and activity of, at least, five. They have social implantation in several regions, the firearms capacity and experience in action. Several have reached agreement on forms of understanding and coordination.

The expansion of the Guerreran popular civic insurgency has been accompanied and sheltered by a very wide and growing national solidarity movement. The university world is boiling. At least 82 schools and centres of higher education went on strike demanding that the 43 disappeared rural college students be returned alive. In the social networks the shows of discontent against Enrique Peña Nieto are crushing.

The government strategy for confronting the crisis has been disastrous. Error after error, every step that the authorities take gets irremediably closer to the edge of the abyss. Incapable of comprehending the nature of the civic insurgency that they are facing, they have responded shaking the hand of petty politicians and vulgar manoeuvres. Their gamble is to buy time and hope for a miracle that has more negative results all the time.

That’s how it happened with its latest stratagem. The version that the Ayotzinapa students would have been executed, burned in a Cocula garbage dump and their ashes thrown into the river, according to testimony of alleged members of the Guerreros Unidos cartel and published by the Attorney General of the Republic (PGR), has meant that spirits are even more exacerbated. Far from offering a convincing explanation of the facts, Jesús Murillo Karam’s conference caused more doubts and unrest. The arrogance of his response to the reports’ questions generated more indignation.

The federal government seeks to establish an “official story” about the massacre and a “legal truth” to escape its negligence and responsibility in the facts and be free from possible international demands against it. It seeks to hide the fact that we’re dealing with a crime of State and of crimes against humanity. Nevertheless, his “explanation” is full of omissions, inconsistencies and contradictions. It is not credible. [1]

Head on, Felipe de la Cruz Sandoval, spokesperson for the parents of the disappeared students, said to President Peña Nieto in the meeting in Los Pinos last October 29: “I believe that if you don’t have the ability to give us the answer, you must also be thinking just like the governor of Guerrero.”

It’s not the only thing that he thinks. Over and over, in the different mobilizations that take place in the country, the multitude chants two slogans that synthesize not just a state of transitory spirit, but also the deep convictions of those that voice them. By shouting: “It was the State,” they point out the one they consider responsible for the savagery; By demanding: “Peña Out!” they express what they see as a way out of the conflict. The civic and popular insurgency has entered a new stage.

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