A lack of awareness for a tragedy in Mexico

Students gather in Boston in protest of the Ayotzinapa case.

Students gather in Boston in protest of the Ayotzinapa case.

Estefania Marti Malvido, Contributor

On September 26, 43 college students in Mexico from the Ayotzinapa Normal School went missing. On November 7, Attorney General Jesús Murillo announced that it is possible the charred bodies found in a dump in Cocula, 12.5 miles north of the city of Iguala, are the remains of the student victims. Human rights violations in Mexico have reached its limits. When is it enough?

As a Mexican living in the United States, hearing about these events is unsettling, disappointing, and tragic. As an international student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, I am surprised by the lack of awareness that students have about international issues. It’s possible that the students at UMass are less familiar with worldwide concerns because of the lack of resources available on campus and the lack of reporting on these issues in this country.

This outrageous act of inhumanity is just an example of one of the hundreds of violent and atrocious crimes committed against innocent Mexicans in the last decade. The Ayotzinapa case exposes the deterioration of Mexico’s political and social domains. It is the tipping point that reflects the failure of the Mexican government’s incapability to protect human rights.

The group of students were stopped and captured by local police in Iguala, a nearby town in the southern state of Guerrero, where the students were collecting funds for a political protest. It is believed that more than 30 local policemen were working for the drug-trafficking group Guerreros Unidos. Almost a month after the event, Murillo ordered the arrest of Jose Luis Abarca, the mayor of the town of Iguala, and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda in Mexico City. Members of Guerreros Unidos have confessed that the couple ordered the capture and massacre of the students.

Despite the ongoing investigation, this has been considered one of the worst crimes in Mexico during the presidency of Enrique Peña Nieto, a member of the PRI, the controversial political party that was in control for 71 years in the 20th Century. Mexican society has entered a new era of social division, fear, and repression. Peña Nieto has not assumed responsibility or presented a solution for the Ayotzinapa conflict. Demonstrations and campaigns have started, demanding that Peña Nieto step down.

I want to bring as much attention to Mexican issues as I can. The U.S. has had strong influences in Latin American countries, and the neighboring countries share many socio-political interests. It is important to be aware and educated about international issues so close to home since they can affect the U.S. And it is vital to understand how decisions in this country affect Mexico and the global community.

The Internet and the power of social media allow people across the globe to connect and talk about socio-political issues. Social media is about engagement and open conversations. I encourage my peers to follow these social movements and participate in the ongoing discussion in response to the 43 students of Ayotzinapa. Solidarity can be expressed through Twitter or Facebook, or simply by talking about it on campus.

Thousands of protesters around the world are expressing their anger against the Mexican government’s incapability to solve these domestic issues. International support for protesters is necessary to pressure the Mexican government to increase transparency and take action against human rights violations. This fight needs to continue and students in the U.S. need to be educated, as well as interested, in these issues. UMass is becoming a more diverse university and it is time the student body began acting like one.

Follow #WeAreAllAyotzinapa on Twitter.

Estefania Marti Malvido can be reached at [email protected] 

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