By Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver Media…Photos by Teddy Gomez and Joe Contreras…see photo galleries below
There they were on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol, thrust into the international spotlight, hundreds of miles from their homes, doing the last thing any parent would want to be doing, emotionally pleading for the return of their missing children.
One by one, the parents of some the 43 students who went missing in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, Mexico, in the city of Iguala told the crowd of their anguish and frustration with the inability of the Mexican government to find their children or hold anyone accountable for their disappearance.
“We want the alive!” was the chant that reverberated on the Capitol grounds as they parents talked of the agony they have had to endure but also of the determination they have to not let the incident fade from national and international attention.
“I sold jugs of water and produce on the streets of Mexico so I could provide my son the opportunity for a better education. He wanted to be a teacher so he could help educate others and help build a better society for all of Mexico and now he is gone and nobody knows where,” said one parent. Another echoed similar sentiments saying that the dreams of students were quashed in a single night at the hands of government authorities.
The Colorado visits marks six months since the student teachers, “normalistas” as they are called in Mexico went missing on September 26th, 6 others were killed during the traffic stop. To date not a single clue as to their whereabouts has turned up despite massive search efforts.
The organizations Al Frente de Lucha and Colorado Sin Fronteras Unidos por Mexico hosted the group of parents and family members. Their visit to Colorado is part of a national speaking tour that includes stops in Greeley and Longmont. Organizers told Latin Life Denver that the turnout was smaller than expected because of a last minute change in the groups schedule that moved up their visit to Colorado by nearly three weeks leaving them little time to get the word out. Organizers sold tee-shirts and took donations to help fund the Colorado visit and national speaking tour.
The purpose of their visit and tour is to provide a platform for the group to share their continued struggle for justice and to bring national attention to the systematic violence and impunity that continues to plague Mexico. According to a press release put out by organizers “Parents of the 43 disappeared students go beyond just claiming the direct responsibility of the Mexican Federal Government. The United States Government and its foreign policy are also responsible for the violence that is waged daily against unprotected social classes throughout Mexico.
By providing billions of dollars through the Mérida Initiative, or Plan Mexico, U.S. direct economic aid to Mexico’s so-called war on drugs legitimatizes state-sponsored violence against Mexican citizens.” All of the parents are calling for the impeachment of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.
Latin Life Denver was in Mexico when the incident occurred and witnessed the resulting uproar by the Mexican population that saw massive protests and the burning of several government building. See our article “Mexico set to Explode!” here…
It is believed Jose Luis Abarca, the Mayor of town of Iguala, in the state of Guerrero, where the incident occurred, ordered local police to round up the students and in turn handed them over to gunmen from a drug cartel known as Guerreros Unidos (warriors united) It has been rumored that the Mayor and his wife perceived the students as trouble makers and were afraid the students were planning to disrupt a speech and a party his wife was to give in the town plaza.
The student teachers reportedly were traveling through Iguala to Mexico City for a fundraiser to help pay for their final year of education and for a remembrance service commemorating the massacre of Mexican university students in 1968 when they were attacked.
The students were from the Rural Normal School of Ayotzinapa in the state of Guerrero. Jose Luis Abarca, who at the time was mayor of Iguala, and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda, who had been on the run since the incident were captured by federal police in a run down house in Mexico City on November 4th ending the life of luxury they had previously enjoyed.
Although the Mayor, his wife and the police chief were arrested they have yet to be formally charged and the Mexican government has officially closed the case.
Photos by Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver Media
Photos by Teddy Gomez, Xposer photography for Latin Life Denver