Unrelenting mass actions demand justice and reject state violence and impunity
November 26 marked the two-month anniversary of the disappearances of 43 student teachers from Ayotzinapa, in Guerrero state, Mexico. The people’s outrage is seen in the widening mass protests. The case of the missing students has exposed the corruption of the Mexican state and its security agencies and their refusal to look after the well-being of the Mexican people. It has also exposed how the Mexican government’s subservience to U.S. interests in the so-called war on drugs has contributed greatly to the militarization of Mexico and the subsequent increase in anarchy, violence and impunity in the name of suppressing the illegal drug trade. The crisis of the Mexican government is underscored by the massive state repression and violence being used against protestors, despite this being the very thing that the Mexican people are so vehemently rejecting.
Reports have begun to surface of another abduction of 31 students in July of this year in Cocula, also in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero, not far from Iguala, scene of the abduction of the Ayotzinapa students on September 26. On November 27, the state government admitted that the Cocula abductions and disappearances had actually taken place on July 2-3 2013, after initially saying it not verify the reports. The governor callously stated that, “The information on this abduction is available on the Guerrero state government website … it was reported there despite nobody coming forward with the crime.” France 24 said interviews were conducted with several other Cocula residents, all of whom confirmed the abduction. All witnesses said nobody in Cocula wanted to report the mass kidnapping, because they — and their children — were threatened with death by heavily-armed criminals.
Guerrero teachers, students protest at two-month mark
To mark the anniversary of the disappearance of the 43 students from the Ayotzinapa teacher’s training college, classmates, teachers and social organizations blocked a major highway connecting the Mexican capital to the resort beach city of Acapulco. This resistance is known as the #YaMeCanse (“I am tired”) movement — a phrase uttered by the Attorney General (PGR) to say he was worn out by the case — to mock and decry the callous aloofness of the Mexican state, and to highlight the that the people are are sick and tired of the government’s corruption. The Attorney General said this to the media despite the fact that it is the families of the missing who are suffering the most and are sick and sleepless with worry.
Meanwhile, families of the disappeared students cancelled a meeting with Mexico’s National Security Commissioner Alejandro Rubido at the Chilpancingo Airport. They reportedly called off the meeting to protest the presence of more than 500 Federal Police personnel organizing to confront protesters in the city.
Protests were also held to demand the release of 11 people, most of them students at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), arrested during actions November 20 in clashes with police in Mexico City, on spurious charges of terrorism, organized crime, attempted homicide and sedition, which makes them ineligible for bail. They were temporarily held at a Specialized Investigation Deputy Attorney for Organized Crime (SIEDO) before being sent to maximum security prisons in the states of Veracruz and Nayarit. On November 29, a judge in Xalapa, capital of the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, found insufficient evidence to prosecute the 11 people.
Alejandro Jimenez, lawyer from the Mexican Institute for Democracy and Human Rights stated, “In this tense time the country is going through, if the PGR wants to regain some credibility it must stop using the legal system with political motivations, [while] the federal government must stop using the PGR politically.”
Despite Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s threats of further force against protestors, the Ayotzinapa missing students protests are still going on all over Mexico. Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets to demand that the 43 missing students be found alive.
November 20 global struggle for Ayotzinapa
Actions across Mexico and worldwide on November 20, Mexico’s Revolution Day, were dubbed a “Global Struggle for Ayotzinapa.” Actions took place in every major city in Mexico. Mexicans were urged to refrain from attending work and school in a national strike. Actions also took place in the U.S., Canada, Spain and the Netherlands.
Family members of the 43 disappeared students led three caravans to Mexico City. When they arrived at the capital district, the caravans spawned three corresponding marches, emanating from some of the city’s most important places and headed to the Zocalo: the Angel of Independence; Tlatelolco, the site of the infamous 1968 massacre of hundreds of students; and the Monument to the Revolution.
The border cities of Ciudad Juarez and El Paso, Texas held simultaneous cross-border marches and political actions. The two cities combined form the largest border city in the world and international bridge crossings were temporarily blocked by protesters. After demonstrators ended the blockade, they successfully demanded free passage for hundreds of passenger vehicles, that usually have to pay 26 pesos (about two dollars) to cross the bridge. Thousands protested the official Juarez parade, while in El Paso, student groups and solidarity organizations converged in front of the Mexican consulate.
In Hermosillo, in the northern state of Sonora, thousands participated in a march organized by local labour unions and students. Students proceeded to occupy and take control of the state congressional chambers in solidarity with the disappeared students and to demand an end to impunity and state violence.
In Tijuana, Mexico’s second largest border metropolis, high schools and the Autonomous University of Baja California held a Revolutionary March, as an alternative to that city’s official parade. Protest leaders called for an end to state repression.
Toluca, Culiacan, Leon, Campeche, Zamora, Xalapa and Tenosique were among other major cities that held actions of solidarity. Countless more small towns across Mexico, according to local media reports, also organized marches, assemblies and vigils in solidarity with the #YaMeCanse movement.
At the November 20 action in Toronto, participants called out the name of each missing student and shouted “Devuelvanlo!” (Bring him back!) Speakers demanded justice and emphasized the responsibility of the Mexican state and government of President Peña Nieto. These crimes are just the latest in a long history of such crimes for which the President, his predecessors and the state itself bear responsibility and for which impunity has prevailed, it was pointed out. They related these crimes to the neo-liberal “reforms” implemented by the Mexican state, that degrade the people’s well-being and destroy national sovereignty. Speakers demanded the removal of Peña Nieto, the whole corrupt ruling political elite, and a new direction for Mexico. Speakers likewise called on the Canadian government to demand justice for the students and decried the Harper government’s silence on the matter and its cozy relationship with Peña Nieto.
New York City
New Delhi, India
Hong Kong, China
Intensified demand for resignation of president
Calls for the resignation of President Peña Nieto grow increasingly loud. Telesur reports that while the #YaMaCanse movement “was founded to demand justice for and the return of the missing 43 students, it now seeks to transform the country. The case of the missing students has exposed the deep-rooted problems of the Mexican state, which appears to be intimately wed to organized crime.”
“We will not be content with the fall of a governor, or of the president. We want them all to fall, because if not, another pig will assume the presidency,” one student told Proceso.
Students affirm they are fighting to stabilize Mexico, not destabilize it
Students reject President Peña Nieto’s assertions that protests are seeking to “destabilize” his government, saying they want stability for the country.
A group of graduate students from UNAM released a video November 25 in response to recent statements by the President, who claimed that groups organizing the protests to demand justice for the 43 disappeared students are trying to destabilize his government.
“As UNAM graduate students, we respond to our social responsibility. That’s why we take to the streets to protest against systemic abuse, while trying to build an alternative for our country….” students said.
Students are also demanding the immediate release of the 11 people arrested after the November 20 mass protest. They say authorities acted in a repressive way and the legal process has not been properly applied.
They said they are tired of Mexican presidents living like royalty when there are millions of poor people in the country, and tired of how legislators make laws to legalize the plundering and looting, as they did with the energy reform.
In related news, tens of thousands of Mexican officials remain in their positions despite having failed security checks, the nongovernmental organization Common Cause revealed on November 24. According to the NGO, an investigation of federal, state, and local security agencies revealed that 42,214 members of security agencies and justice departments across Mexico have failed this type of test, yet have not been removed. The study looked at local, federal and state police, ministers, judges, investigators, forensic analysts and even administrative employees who have access to sensitive information.
Of these agents, “3,516 belong to federal agencies, 20,521 to state corporations and 18,177 to local agencies (municipalities),” said Maria Elena Morera, president of Common Cause.
“There are states where it is not really clear how to fire them; and there are states where they don’t know how to do it and don’t know the mechanisms to do it,” explained Morera during a press conference.
Common Cause noted that of all 32 state security corporations, none of them received a positive evaluation.
More mass graves found in Guerrero State
Tomaz Zeron, head of the Criminal Investigation Agency, said that forensic experts are continuing their work at the mass graves sites located by Guerrero’s Union of Commoners and Organizations (Upoeg).
Upoeg stated that so far, as many as 500 bodies have been found in the state of Guerrero alone. In a press conference, Bruno Placido, a spokesman for the group, said his organization has been issuing warnings since 2013, however the PGR only began to act well after the disappearance of the Ayotzinapa students began to garner global attention.
According to Julia Alonso, Director of Civil Governance Forensic, a Mexican non-profit that works to improve the justice system through better understanding of forensic practices, Iguala could have upwards of 50 more mass graves. Alonso’s group has urged the authorities to press forward with investigations in order to give the families of the missing people in Guerrero some definitive answers about their relatives.
Nefarious role of U.S. to militarize Mexico as part of “War on Drugs”
The vast majority of U.S. so-called aid to Mexico is focused on fighting what is called the war on drugs. This money comes primarily through two channels: the Merida Initiative, administered by the State Department, and Department of Defense counternarcotics funds. The Merida Initiative, launched as a three-year plan by the Bush Administration in 2007 and funded in 2008, supports Mexican security forces, primarily in counternarcotics efforts whose purpose is said to be to dismantle drug cartels. The Obama administration extended the Merida Initiative “indefinitely.”
The Merida Initiative has already been given $2.4 billion dollars. The Department of Defense has spent $214.7 million on the Mexican drug war just since 2011, when figures are available. Additional public funds for Mexico’s drug war come through the Department of Justice for extensive Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) operations in Mexico. This means that the U.S. government has spent approximately $3 billion dollars on the war on drugs in Mexico alone.
On October 29, the Center for International Policy Americas Program (CIP-Americas) delivered a report at a Congressional Briefing hosted by the office of Representative Hank Johnson (D-Georgia), co-sponsored by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), the Guatemala Human Rights Commission, Just Associates, CISPES and CIP-Americas. They reported that the results of U.S. funding in the so-called war on drugs include:
– 100,000 murdered in drug war-related violence
– More than 25,000 disappeared, tens of thousands forced to flee their homes, thousands of orphans and incalculable psychological trauma
– Mass graves in Guerrero, Tamaulipas, Chihuahua and other states with unidentified bodies
– Increase in violations of the rights and physical safety of transmigrants in the country
– Increase in violations of the rights of women and sexual crimes, including femicides
– Increase in torture and extrajudicial executions
(With files from Telesur, CIP Americas, Mexican National Commission on Human Rights. Photos: TML, Telesur, S. Pando, P. Stockdale, D. Brinkman, Sin Embargo, Compa Estefa, Desinformemonos, SubVersionesACC, Revolution Réal Ya, A. Diaz Meraz, Yo Soy 132 Londres, G. Perfors B., J. Pozos, J. Mayorga, A. Bayliss, Espejo Cuidadano.)
Source: TML Weeekly Information Project