The disappearance of forty-three Mexican college students on September 26th has led to a period of protests from parents who have had enough. On that night, uniformed police officers in the city of Igualá opened fire on five busses of students from the Rural Teachers College in Ayotzinapa and one bus carrying a local soccer team. The police and three unidentified gunmen killed six people, wounded more than twenty and “disappeared” forty-three students.
In early October, family members of the missing students gathered to participate in searches and meet with government officials, human rights workers and forensic anthropologists according to an in-depth account of the events by John Gibler published on California Sunday Magazine. Details of the massacre and missing students can be found in the article, but the events have led to the unfolding of a protest movement against Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
The day after the shooting, state police moved in and arrested twenty-two Igualá police officers who had been identified by surviving students. The mayor and his wife, along with the town’s police chief, went into hiding. However, President Peña Nieto cancelled a previously planned trip to the state of Guerrero leaving people with the impression the killings and disappearances were not his concern. He added fuel to the fire when he later told a reporter the “state government must assume its own responsibility to face what’s happening.”
In the following weeks, protests grew in numbers and intensity. Parents and students joined together to block highways and march through cities. They smashed windows of and, according to an article by Ildefonso Ortiz on Breitbart Texas, set fire to the Guerrero state congress building and the governor’s offices. Protests spread to other cities across the country. This led to the October 23rd resignation of Governor Aguirre. Parents eventually met with President Peña Nieto and told him to find their children or follow Gov. Aguirre’s lead and resign.
In Mexico there is a phrase that translates to “The drop that spilled the glass.” It is similar in meaning to the expression of “The straw that broke the camel’s back.” John Gibler wrote that many people are saying the Igualá massacre and disappearances is indeed the drop that spilled the glass. People no longer believe the government’s insistence that the drug war has clearly defined good guys and bad guys according to the California Sunday article.
“It’s hard to argue the point that the disappearance of these 43 students has had a more profound impact on Mexico’s national psyche than any other organized crime-related incident in recent history,” said Breitbart Texas border security expert Sylvia Longmire. “Even the firebombing of a casino in Monterrey in 2012 that resulted in the deaths of 53 innocent people didn’t have as large an impact as the events in Igualá.”
“John Gibler, who has made some great contributions to the body of work on Mexico’s drug war, brings up great points regarding the confluence of many factors that make the disappearances so significant,” she explained. “But I think it’s perhaps it’s being viewed as an attack on the very spirit of Mexico. Latin America in general is well known for being a cradle of protest, coups, and revolutions.”
“Some parts of Mexico–particularly in the southern states of Chiapas and Oaxaca–are more well known for loud expressions of discontent, and Ayotzinapa is no exception,” Longmire continued. “For the government to squash such protests with tear gas or unlawful arrests or even violence is unsurprising, if unjust.”
The horrific events took place in a rural community located about an hour’s drive from the beach resort area of Acapulco. The ensuing protests prompted the U.S. Embassy in Mexico to issue a travel advisory warning Americans to avoid the area.
As the pressure built across Mexico, the government continues its attempts to shut down the scandal. In a December 6th press conference, the government attempted to wrap it all up in a package. Attorney General Murrillo Karam summed up the government’s investigation by saying eighty suspects had been arrested including Mayor Abarca, his wife and forty metropolitan police officers. Referring to the DNA match of one of the missing students, Karam said, “This scientific proof confirms that the remains found at one of the scenes coincide with the evidence in the investigation and with the testimonies of the detained, in the sense that in said location and manner a group of people were deprived of life.” An Argentine forensic team which had been working closely with the government now distanced itself from the state. The team stated there is still not enough scientific evidence to make the conclusion reached by the government.
Parents reacted to Karam’s statement with hostility. They promised more protests. One father, Felipe de la Cruz, told a crowd of protesters in Mexico City, We will not sit down and cry. We will continue in our struggle to bring back alive the 42.”
“For a non-state actor like a gang or drug cartel to act as an interloper in the very fabric of Mexican history and national expression is an abomination not seen before in the country,” Longmire concluded. “No matter what the ultimate reason for the upheaval, there is no more ‘business as usual’ in Mexico’s drug war after this.”
Gilber concluded his article stating, “this demand — this heartbreaking and irreproachable demand — had come to speak not only for the disappeared sons of Ayotzinapa but also for the profound yearning to bring Mexico itself back from all the horror.”
The “disappeared” students are technically missing but are assumed dead according to another Breitbart Texas article. Some evidence suggests federal police may have also been involved. Another article by Ortiz suggests the Guerreros Unidos gang may have executed the students suspecting they were sneaking into their turf.
Bob Price is a senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas and a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.