On Sept. 26, 2014, 43 students from the Rural Teachers Training School, “Raúl Isidro Burgos,” in Ayotzinapa, Mexico, disappeared while en route to Mexico City in order to participate in anti-state demonstrations.
Through the collected efforts of current Ayotzinapa students and faculty, as well as international organizations, such as the Young Communists Leagues, the truth behind last year’s tragedy is slowly coming to light.
One organization doing their part to bring recognition to the issue is the TRUSU Socialist Club. Last Friday, the group brought together a crowd of a few dozen students in the Irving K. Barber Centre to showcase a documentary on the disappearances. They also presented two speakers, part of an Ayotzinapa-solidarity group, and gave them a chance to speak to and connect with students here at TRU.
Daniel Mendoza and Ingrid Figueroa, members of the Vancouver-based group Solidaridad con Ayotzinapa Vancouver, were invited to come speak on Mexico’s corruption by Kevin Pankewich, one of the event’s main organizers and an original member of the TRUSU Socialist Club.
Pankewich said he had met Mendoza and Figueroa at a Young Communists League school in Vancouver earlier this year.
“We were hoping to do an Ayotzinapa event up here at TRU for a while, but lacked any connection to the Latin American community. Once I met with Daniel and Ingrid, things took off immediately from there,” Pankewich said.
When invited to speak, Mendoza told the audience that he and Figueroa had came to TRU in order to “inform Canadian students on why these Ayotzinapa students were targeted.”
“We have also come here to show exactly what is happening in Mexico, to show the violence and corruption, and not just the violence and corruption of the cartels, but that of the government as well,” Mendoza said.
The film itself, “Ayotzinapa: Chronicle of State Crime,” follows the story of the disappearances through the eyes of the classmates and parents of the disappeared, as well as political analysts and university professors studying the issue. The film’s sombre tone is well-deserved, as most of the narration comes from Ayotzinapa student and organizer of the trip to Mexico City, Omar Garcia.
Garcia was in the town of Iguala when the buses transporting the students were stopped by municipal police. It was there that the police tried to detain the students and prevent them from travelling any further. In the eyes of the city officials, the Ayotzinapa were delinquents, poor rural boys coming from a Marxist school. Thinking that the world would not care for their lives, the police and other armed men opened fire with automatic rifles.
Days later, the entire country would be in uproar over those killed in the streets and over those who would never be found again.
Both speakers affirmed that the most crucial part of the process of restabilizing Mexico is bringing awareness to events such as the disappearance of the 43 Ayotzinapa students.
At the film’s end, Figueroa handed out copies of letters directly from the Rural Teachers Training School of Ayotzinapa. The students of Ayotzinapa asked that, if students here in Canada do anything to help those being oppressed by the state in Mexico, it is to simply become aware about what is going on and to stand in solidarity with them as they fight for the right to an education free of oppression.