Ayotzinapa Resistance: “This is just getting started”
Ayotzinapa Resistance: "This is just getting started"
by Dawn Paley
Youth lit 20 vehicles on fire yesterday in front of the main government buildings in Chilpancingo, Guerrero
The forty three students disappeared by municipal police in Iguala, Guerrero on September 26, 2014, are still missing. As much as the state wants to put a lid on the protests, families and fellow students of the missing young men refuse to accept the official version, and have vowed to continue searching until they find the 43 alive.
The government of Mexico is facing the largest crisis of legitimacy since the war on drugs started in December, 2006. One of the chants at the marches is "It wasn’t narcos, it was the state!" This is a common sentiment, and one which undermines the state’s ability to produce hegemonic discourse with regards to what happened to the students.
The state is trying to lay the blame for the disappearances at the feet of a few bad apples (the mayor of Iguala, his wife, and two dozen local police) and so called criminal groups (like Guerreros Unidos). On Friday, Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam announced that the students were probably dead, their bodies burned and placed in bags, even though there is no proof of identity of the bodies allegedly found in the bags. Murillo Karam then made thefollowing claim:
In this context, the now detained Sidronio Casarruvias Salgado, leader of [Guerreros Unidos], as he states in his declaration, was contacted by his boss Gildardo López Astudillo, known as el Gil, who told him via cellphone message about the conflicts taking place in Iguala, attributing them to a rival crime group. Casarruvias Salgado was who approved the actions in order to ‘defend his territory.’
The goal here is to present the disappearance of the students as an event which was carried out by individual actors completely independent of the state. Murillo Karam here implies that the students were mistaken by a crime group as belonging to another crime group, which is why they were disappeared. But make no mistake, it was the state. It was police officers who killed six people on September 26, including torturing one youth to death, peeling his face offand leaving his body on display for all to see. It was police who detained the youth and police in cooperation with a local paramilitary group who disappeared the students.
Families and students have been clear that they reject the official version of events and that they will continue searching for their loved ones. One of the fathers said the government’s announcement that the boys are dead before there is any proof is "a way of openly torturing the parents" of the missing students. The mother of Emiliano Alen Gaspar de la Cruz, one of the missing young men, spoke during a press conference held by families after Murillo Karam’s statements on Friday:
Since the boys are sons of farmers, the government doesn’t give them enough importance. We feel rage, anger, and above all a lot of pain, but we still have a firm hope that they are alive. We know this very well, but the President gave this version because he wants to travel overseas. What matters to him is commerce and investment, but he doesn’t care about the people. Peña Nieto will not fool us, they are alive and we will find them.
In my forthcoming book Drug War Capitalism, I argue that one of the key functions of the drug war is to consolidate social control through terror. And behind the terror, criminal states keep legislating. As the tragedy of the missing students continued to dominate headlines and politics in Mexico, the federal government passed the last of the regulations to allow for the privatization of Mexico’s oil company and the participation of private companies in oil and gas projects in Mexico.
Coming back to Guerrero, what happened in Iguala is not a case of a few bad apples. On the contrary, Ayotzinapa is like the straw the broke the camel’s back, exposing how the state acts in tandem with criminal groups to sow terror. These groups, which the state calls drug cartels, but which can better be understood as paramilitary groups, do not threaten the state or control the state, rather on a whole they tend to strengthen the state repressive apparatus.
There is no one person or group who can absorb responsibility for the disappearance of 43 young men from the Ayotzinapa school and the massacre of 6 people. Rather, these acts were facilitated by overlapping systems of domination, capitalism, impunity, racism, militarization and paramilitarization. These systems are created and upheld not only by the government of Mexico, but by the U.S. and other governments, and they tend towards benefiting transnational capital.
Throughout Mexico, resistance to all levels of government and police is firm and it appears that it will continue to intensify. Massive protests have taken place not only in Mexico City, where it is estimated that over 100,000 people filled the Zocalo on Wednesday, November 5th, but also in cities across the country, including places where mobilizations are historically much smaller. A march yesterday from the Attorney General’s office to the Zocalo in Mexico City brought out over ten thousand people, and there were multiple detentions.
Solidarity march in Mexicali
Nationwide, Normal Schools (teacher training colleges) have been on indefinite strike since the disappearances took place. The country’s largest universities have observed multiple days of strike action. Highschools and colleges have also been shut down by the students, who hold assemblies, block roads, and organize cultural events. In Oaxaca, home to Section 22, the country’s most combative teacher’s union, there have been work stoppages in elementary and highschools. Through assemblies, there is a process of articulation between universities, highschools, colleges on local, regional, state wide and national levels taking place.
Every day, protesters take over countless toll booths on private highways and collect money in support of the families and students in Ayotzinapa. They can raise upwards of $6,000 in an afternoon, and the funds are essential for continuing the search for the 43 students.
The call for solidarity actions around the world is ongoing.