Some Mexican citizens stand up for murdered students

Samantha Hernandez

How can 43 people just disappear? It turns out in Mexico it can happen quite easily. According to Mexico’s National Statistics Institute, approximately 123,470 people were kidnapped in the country in 2013. With 93.8 percent of crimes not investigated, there are no real consequences for criminals.

On Sept. 26, 43 students from a teacher’s college in Iguala and six people accompanying them were killed. Guerrero were picked up by police and handed over to Guerreros Unidos, a drug gang that operates in the state. While there’s still some speculation as to why it happened, it is believed that the students were en route to protest a speech given by Maria de los Angeles Pineda, the town mayor’s wife, who had known ties to drug traffickers. The students were going to protest the discriminatory hiring practices and the unequal funding by the government.

The Iguala mayor at the time of the disappearances was Jose Luis Abarca. Abarca took a leave of absence before disappearing with his wife. The investigators discovered that it had been Abarca who had ordered the students’ capture and murder . The events forced Gov. Angel Aguirre to resign. As the investigation continued, around 70 people were arrested in connection to the kidnappings.

The search for the missing students led to finding 11 more graves around the town and identifying 38 more victims . Mexico’s attorney general, Jesus Murillo, said that the remains would be sent to a lab in Austria  because they did not have the capacity to perform the tests properly in Mexico.

After members of the Guerreros Unidos admitted they killed the students, the students were proclaimed to be dead.

The tragedy caused outrage in Mexico. Citizens protested and set Iguala buildings on fire, including City Hall. According to The Guardian protesters went to Zocalo Plaza in Mexico City and set the wooden door of the ceremonial Presidential Palace on fire. Protestor numbers continue to grow, as does their anger because they feel the government and president have not done enough. They are even calling for President Enrique Pena Nieto to resign.

I’m Mexican and if I hadn’t moved to the United States when I was younger, I would be a student in Mexico City. I have family who lives there. What happens in Mexico affects my life and the lives of those I love.

I think everyone has heard about the infamous Mexican cartels. They’re said to have influence on the police force as well as politicians. When they’re not fighting each other, they are killing good cops and journalists – journalists like Maria del Rosario Fuentes Rubio . Her crime was speaking out and anyone who speaks out against the corrupt people in power or the cartels is murdered. The crime of the 43 students? They were on their way to protest, to speak out.

We take so many rights for granted in the United States. One of the biggest is our freedom of speech. We have the ability to speak out, protest and disagree with the government without having to think about our safety. Can you imagine an event like this happen in this country? It did happen once at Kent State University, May 4, 1970 but the deaths were triggered by a panic from National Guard members, not as a planned attack. I can’t imagine a purposeful slaughter due to a protest in the United States.

For the time being I don’t plan on going to Mexico. I would not feel safe as a journalist, or a person for that matter. The country needs to stop the corruption. Although it might take a long time since it runs deep throughout Mexico, it’s not going to happen without taking the first step.

I commend the brave Mexicans who risk their lives to try to influence the change. Whether it’s informing the public of the truth or protesting, whether it’s looking for their missing children, or if it’s by standing up to gang members, it is a courageous message of, “No more.”

I like to think that if I were in their place, I would do the same.