“Take this.” Doña Maria passes the color photo of one her four missing sons to a young woman standing beside her and takes a life-size silhouette of a missing student into her hands. “They are all our sons,” she explains.
As do so many mothers and fathers throughout Mexico, she knows the pain of losing a child. Multiply that pain by 49–six dead and 43 forcibly disappeared in Iguala –and you have a sense of the mood at the march of some 15,000 students, workers, feminists, victims and citizens held in Mexico City Oct.8.
The nation is in mourning, and on the move.
Mexico City’s march began at the Angel of Independence where contingents with varying degrees of cohesiveness filed into the streets and toward the Zocalo. Photos of the missing students, messages of solidarity with Ayotzinapa and expressions of indignation scrolled on cardboard followed behind the more traditional banners identifying the groups. In large cursive letters on the stone base of a fountain, someone paraphrased Descartes: “I think, therefore they disappear me”.
Young people chant: “¿Por qué por qué por qué nos asesinan? Si somos la esperanza de América Latina (“Why, why why do they assassinate us? If we are the hope of Latin America). And the poetic, “The dead are the eternal cry of rebellion”. University banners read–“If they harm one, they harm us all”.
The governments have attempted to portray Iguala as another case of the brutality of organized crime. They admit that the local government had been co-opted. Yet the degree of complicity goes much deeper than a few bad apples. And since the animosity between government and the rural school as a center of opposition is well known, political motives to repress dissidence factor into the crime.
The Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity joined the march, along with other victims’ organizations. Human rights groups and unions marched.
The outrage will likely grow. It is all too predictable that at some point the disappeared will cross over into the column of the murdered and more families will lose the last ray of hope. One thing though is certain–Mexico is undergoing a shift of conscience. A nation that murders dissident or disaffected youth destroys its future. Or maybe worse: it prepares the path for a future we would never wish on our children.
It will take continued organization, pressure and protest to assure justice in these cases. And then even more to assure that such crimes can never be repeated.
Photos: Gerardo Sánchez