Ayotzinapa: 2011-2015 Graduating Class Takes Slogan “Blood, Resistance and Hope”
Graduating Class of 2011-2015 at Ayotzinapa Rural Normal School
Photo: Laura Reyes/CNNMéxico
Sergio Ocampo Arista
La Jornada, 19th July, 2015
Tixtla, Guerrero – In an unprecedented event in the field of education and culture in the country, 124 students graduating from the Raul Isidro Burgos Rural Normal School of Ayotzinapa were sponsored by prominent Mexican intellectuals. During an emotional ceremony held on the campus, located in the municipality of Tixtla, justice was demanded for the 43 students disappeared in Iguala last September 26, even as the class of 2011-2015 Blood, Resistance and Hope, received degrees in primary education and physical education.
Led by Elena Poniatowska, Juan Villoro, Armando Bartra, Gabriel Retes, Luis Hernández, Rafael Barajas, Hector Bonilla and Marta Lamas, the class’s sponsors took to the podium before the astonished eyes of the graduates’ parents, mostly subsistence farmers who come from various regions of Guerrero and the country.
The graduation ceremony was held in the courtyard of the Ayotzinapa Normal School, where paintings were placed of the faces of the disappeared young men, whose parents did not attend. It was an account of the involvement of teachers at various times in the history of this school, which has been influential in almost all social struggles since its founding in 1926.
To applause, Poniatowska began with messages to the graduates and their families: "I know that you would give your life to be able to embrace your missing classmates, but you have to keep standing precisely because they are not here."
Poniatowska recalled that since 1975, Rosario Ibarra de Piedra, has not stopped for even one day searching for her son, Jesús Piedra Ibarra, who disappeared at age 21. Raúl Álvarez Garín, "leader of the 1968 movement, also fought until the day he died. He never gave up or stopped protesting. He put former President Luis Echeverría in the prisoner’s dock."
About the events in Iguala, she remarked: "Forty-eight are missing. In addition to the 43 disappeared, three were killed: David Solís García, Julio Cesar Mondragón, Julio César Ramírez Nava; and two were seriously injured: Aldo Gutiérrez Solano, who since then has remained unconscious, and Édgar Andrés Vargas, who has undergone numerous operations to reconstruct part of his face and help him restore functions."
Perfect Slogan: Blood, Resistance and Hope
Writer Juan Villoro also spoke, noting: "One generation ends heavy with absences. Throughout nearly a year, the word Ayotzinapa has articulated a Mexico in a Republic of indignation and feeling. We have confirmed a country of injustice and impunity, where there are no convincing explanations for the forced disappearance of persons."
It is difficult "to find something that moves us, but this class’s slogan is a perfect synthesis and, dare I say, a proposal of activity and work: blood, resistance and hope. Not forgetting the pain, but trying to reorganize it imaginatively into a different future.
"September 26, 2014, seemed to be a repeat of numerous attacks that have been lived through [before] in Guerrero, and in many other parts of the Mexican territory. The most amazing thing about this disgrace is that it is repeated. This is about a recurring pain. We have to put an end, once and for all, to this perpetuation of impunity and injustice."
Journalist Luis Hernández stressed that … throughout its history the Ayotzinapa Normal School has suffered many negative campaigns. This happened in 1941, when the police arrested students and "charged them with having replaced the national flag with a red and black flag. It was not true. …" The teachers colleges have been accused of being schools of the devil, "of being ‘Bolshevik kindergardens’, hotbeds of guerrillas, communist nests and other things."
Hernández asked: "Why this hatred of the rural normal schools? Because you are the last bastion of the Mexican Revolution. The rural normal schools sum up the Revolution’s two main demands: free, secular, compulsory education for the populace, and land reform."
Actor Hector Bonilla told the audience of more than a thousand, who applauded all the speakers, that his parents were founders of the Ayotzinapa Normal School … He told the graduates that they have a history: "What remains to this generation is confronting your reality, with all your strength, without capitulation or surrender."
Armando Bartra, writer and university professor, said that "this is a moment to recall the pain, the shame," and to remember the crime of Iguala: "It is a moment to refresh our courage, our outrage. This is not forgotten. This wound will not close. Some say that Ayotzinapa is already forgotten, but it will never be forgotten. Perhaps the movement and the capacity to convene might diminish—that is inevitable, but independent of whether the demonstrations could diminish or return to grow again, this is not forgotten, and neither will either the fury or the rage be forgotten."
Educate From Hope
Bartra urged: "We have courage, indignation, anger, but even though in Ayotzinapa today the words sound bad, we cannot lose hope, joy. Hope and joy, you are going to be teaching children, and they have to be educated in hope, in joy, in laughter, in singing, not in hatred, or fury, or outrage. It isn’t about trying to hide things, about denying the world, about not speaking of the injustice and pain, but there is a responsibility to do so with hope and joy."
Filmmaker Gabriel Retes Balzaretti asked: "How do you explain to the children of this country that they can disappear from one moment to the next, just because they are students? How can they, just like that, disappear 43 students studying to be teachers? How can we participate in building a just, equitable country, with true peace, that is to be extended to all the people regardless of their origin?"
How to put an end to the corruption, social inequality, with the custom of bullying, "if not through education that supports us in forming our conscience, which includes not just reading and writing, but personal relationships as well."
Cartoonist Rafael Barajas, The Snoop [El Fisgón], considered that the attacks suffered by the Ayotzinapa Normal School "have become emblematic of how the Mexicans have been. Everything indicates that we are going backward. We are headed for the worst of our past; we are increasingly going backward. In 2015 we returned to the times of the oil expropriation."
Writer and feminist Marta Lamas proposed educating and keep on studying, plus promoting citizen action, because "these are ways to search for truth and justice, such that a barbarism like that of the Ayotzinapa students might never happen again. Every society has a duty to remember, and you, by naming your graduating class, are bravely and painfully carrying out this painful memory of both murder and forced disappearance. As they say around the world: neither forgiveness nor forgetting."
Finally, the writer Paco Ignacio Taibo sent a recorded message to his normal school protegees: "I have always thought that a country without teachers is a crappy country. We need our teachers, and you are the vestiges of the socialist education project of (Lázaro) Cárdenas, who was instrumental in education in Mexico."
Ayotzinapa, he concluded: "has been, throughout the years, the traveling back and forth between teacher and community. I feel very honoured to say these words to you; I wish you the best of luck in a degraded, corrupted and destroyed country. The struggling [activist] teacher is also teaching, but you need take to the children of the [indigenous] communities a way of learning, of understanding life, of training, of promoting mass education, which is so sorely lacking."
Translated by Jane Brundage