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Todos somos Ayotzinapa (We’re all Ayotzinapa) | © jazbeck/Flickr
Todos somos Ayotzinapa (We’re all Ayotzinapa) | © jazbeck/Flickr

Mexico Marches In Memory Of Ayotzinapa’s Second Anniversary

Picture of Lauren Cocking
Updated: 20 December 2016
On September 26th 2014, the ‘disappearance’ of 43 Mexican students from the Ayotzinapa Normal School in the region of Iguala, Guerrero was to become one of Mexico’s most atrocious and heinous crimes in living memory. Now, two years on from the terrible events that gripped Mexican and world media attention, marches have and are been undertaken in continued protest against the poor government response to and possible involvement in the Ayotzinapa disappearances.

The students abducted on the 26th were students of Ayotzinapa Normal School (officially Raúl Isidro Burgos Teachers College), which is notorious for involvement in student activism, and for using radical protesting techniques. Official reports from September 26th-27th suggest that the students had attempted to commandeer buses to Mexico City and march in memoriam of the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre, before being intercepted by police, although theories and suspicions still abound over what actually happened. The most widely accepted and propagated is that Iguala’s mayor, José Luis Abarca Velázquez, and his wife, María de los Ángeles Pineda Villa (sister of some of Guerrero’s Beltrán-Leyva Cartel members), planned the abduction and devised the interception of the buses taking them to that country’s capital.

After rounding up the students who remained alive despite the shoot-out provoked by the attempted abduction, reports claim they were more than likely handed to Guerrero crime organisation ‘Guerreros Unidos’ (‘Warriors United’), who murdered and burned the bodies in a mass grave. Perhaps the most unsettling part of the story comes with the October 5th discovery of several mass graves near to Iguala. None of the 28 bodies in the first, nor those in the other four graves, corresponded to the disappeared students. In fact, only two of the students have been positively identified and confirmed dead, and protest banners displaying the 43 students’ ID photos have continued to haunt towns and cities across Mexico since the day they disappeared.

Unsurprisingly, the Ayotzinapa murders provoked public outcry in Mexico with families of the deceased protesting over the poor government response, and probable involvement in the killings. During the immediate aftermath, peaceful marches centred on the country’s capital, Mexico City, and Guerrero itself. However, other protests turned violent and led to further clashes between police and military forces and protestors. Either way, Ayotzinapa confirmed what many already suspected about the local Mexican government, police and military; they were colluding on a grand scale with organised crime units.

Guadalajara, immediately after the events of September 26th 2014 | Courtesy of author

Guadalajara, immediately after the events of September 26th 2014 | Courtesy of author

On September 26th, Mexico City was the location of a march headed by the families of the deceased, alongside human rights organisations and students from local universities. Slogans such as ‘fue el estado’ (‘it was the state’), ‘vivos los llevaron, vivos los queremos’ (‘they took them alive, we want them alive’), ‘nos faltan 43’ (‘we’re missing 43’), alongside the names of the disappeared were widely visible on banners. Other cities across the country, such as Guadalajara, Morelia, Puebla and Guanajuato, as well global locations like London, also marked the tragic anniversary of the forced student disappearances. As is evidenced by the sustained public outcry over the events of two years ago, ‘Ayotzinapa vive’ (‘Ayotzinapa lives’).