Families, friends, and outraged citizens have taken to the streets for answers about the most curious case in contemporary Mexican history. The mystery of the missing students in Mexico began back in September, when 43 students from an all-male liberal college in rural Ayotzinapa traveled to the historic city of Iguala to protest over the lack of government spending on education.
After being detained by police, an altercation allegedly ensued, and the students mysteriously vanished. Since then, reports have surfaced that the students were presumably killed by the police and handed over to Guerreros Unidos drug cartels, where they were chopped up, burned, and thrown into a river. Bodies have been uncovered, but many families are refusing to believe they belong to the missing students.
With key government officials part of this senseless tragedy, here’s everything you need to know about the case.
–Raul Isidro Burgos Normal Rural School of Ayotzinapa, where the 43 students were taught, is one of the 16 colleges in Mexico. The school rose as an institution following the Mexican Revolution and gave hope to young people who wanted to live a life outside of being a farmer. Featuring painted murals of Che Guevara and Karl Marx, students are encouraged to stand up for their rights. Over the years, the teachings at the school have become more radical, and accordingly, students have become less reliant on the government after politicians’ connections to gangs became public knowledge.
— ThinkMexican (@ThinkMexican) October 7, 2014
– Two of the most famous alumni from the school are Lucio Cabanas and Genaro Vazquez. Both were killed by the police during the guerrilla movements in Guerrero state in the 1960s that continued into the ’70s.
– The teachers barely make ends meet, since the government provides little-to-no money. First year students are forced to plant crops like corn, sorghum, and vegetables to help make money for the administration.
– The students headed Iguala to speak out against the government were also planning to raise money for a future trip to Mexico City. Ironically, the students planned to take part in an annual march that highlights the Tlatelolco massacre, where over 300 student protestors were killed by the police.
– One of the first stories brought to light about the missing students was the murder of Julio Cesar Mondragon. The 22-year-old student was found dead in the street in Iguala in the early hours of September 27. The student was with several others in a van when the vehicle was sprayed with bullets by the police. Julio was found with the skin peeled off his face and his eyes gouged out. Six other students were also killed. Another 19-year-old student is currently in a coma from a gun shot wound to the head.
– The arrest of Former Iguala Mayor Jose Luis Abarca and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda, last Tuesday (November 4) gave the case new hope. It proved to be a big stepping stone after Mexican officials called them the “probable masterminds” of the killings, ordering the police to kill the students. The couple fled town two days after the disappearance of the students, but were later found in a run-down house in Mexico City. The Iguala police chief is currently still on the run.
– Three days later, Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam announced three members of the Guerreros Unidos gang confessed to working with the former mayor and his wife to dispose of the bodies. The men claim many of the students were already dead, with their hands tied behind their backs. Abarca allegedly told the hitmen the students planned to disrupt his wife’s speech in Iguala and “needed to be taught a lesson.” Police found 19 mass graves and have arrested 70 people connected to the burials.
– Confessions from the gang members only angered the people of Mexico. Over the weekend, protestors took to the streets, demanding autopsies of the bodies to confirm they are indeed the missing students. Many made metal barricades to storm the National Mexican Palace, where political events involving Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto are held.
Some even tried to light the doors on fire, but were arrested by the police.
— Military Studies (@ArmedResearch) November 9, 2014
– Like Ferguson and the “Umbrella Protests” in Hong Kong, social media has helped spread the word about the case. Students marched in front of the Mexican consulate in Los Angeles, demanding that the President step down.
– It is unknown when Jose Luis Abarca and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda, will be brought to trial over the missing students, but the families and the people of Mexico can only wish for peace and answers as the protests continue.
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