Monday, October 6, 2014
Today: Student Resistance and Police Violence Echo 1968
"Never Forget October 2!"
The slogan captures the spirit of the annual commemorations of the military-police massacre
of hundreds of protesting students prior to the Olympic Games in Mexico City back on October 2, 1968.
In 2014, new killings of Mexican students and young people, coupled with a massive student
strike at the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) in the capital city - one of the centers of the 1968 movement, has injected
fresh bursts of outrage and activism into this year's October 2 demonstrations and activities.
On one front, the September 26 murders of six people in Iguala, Guerrero, has plunged the conflict-ridden state south
of Mexico City into renewed political turmoil. The bloody events began on the evening of the 26th when municipal policemen,
backed by still unidentified civilian gunmen, opened fire on unarmed students from the Raul Isidro Burgos rural teachers'
college of Ayotzinapa, Guerrero.
The students had reportedly seized three
private buses and were collecting donations while on their way, ironically, to the October 2 commemorations in Mexico City.
Regrouping from the attack, the students and their supporters, including
union leaders, were fired upon a second time in the streets of Iguala. Three students, including a young man who was later
found with his eyes gouged out and the skin ripped from his face, were killed in the attacks, while an undetermined number
of others were wounded and dozens of others disappeared.
police of Iguala hunted them like rabbits," wrote La Jornada columnist Luis Hernandez Navarro. "Despite
being students, they were treated as if they belonged to a rival cartel."
Uriel Alonso Ortiz, spokesman for the Atoyzinapa students, later said that at least 13 of his missing companions
had turned up safe. "It was confirmed that many had managed to leave Iguala after the shooting," Alonso said. "They
already called and said they were okay. Some were injured, but they are at home."
Ramon Navarette, president of the official Guerrero State Commission for the Defense of Human Rights, added that
authorities would continue searching for the remainder of the missing students.
The murdered students identified so far include Julio Cesar Mondragon and Daniel Solis Guerrero. A fourth victim
was reported brain dead.
In a second possibly unrelated attack on the
same evening, unidentified gunmen fired on a bus carrying members of the Avispones soccer team of Chilpancingo, which had
just finished beating the local Iguala team by a score of 3-1.
15-year-old player for the Avispones, David Josue Garcia Evangelista, died in the fusillade, while the bus driver and 12 players
were wounded. A woman who was passing by the scene of the shooting in a taxi, Blanca Montiel Sanchez, was likewise cut down
by the bullets.
"Death to the bad government that took him from
us!" shouted hundreds of funeral goers at David Garcia's burial. "Justice! Justice!"
The killings have prompted mass protests demanding the sackings of Guerrero Governor Angel
Aguirre, Iguala Mayor Jose Luis Abarca Valenzuela, and Iguala public security chief Felipe Flores Velazquez.
Abarca, who was attending a dance at the time of the mass killing, distanced himself from
the violence, claiming that control of the municipal police force is now in the hands of a centralized state command structure
based in the state capital of Chilpancingo.
Pledging a thorough investigation,
Gov. Aguirre condemned the killing. State law enforcement officials ordered the 280-member Iguala police force garrisoned,
disarmed the officers, and transferred 22 detained agents to Acapulco where they were charged with murder.
In dramatic developments, Abarca told the city council September 30 that he was taking a
30-day leave of absence, and after again denying any guilt in the violence abruptly left city hall with his wife. Only minutes
later, state and federal police swooped into the building reportedly looking for Abarca, Flores and others connected to the
Mexican soldiers and police then raided Abarca's
home, but did not find the mayor on the premises; witnesses said the raiding party departed with three of Abarca's domestic
workers in their custody. A police-military visit to the home of Abarca's brother also came up empty-handed. Abarca and
Gov. Aguirre represent the center-left PRD party, but leaders of social movements like the Atoyac Citizens Front and Popular
Guerrero Movement that formed the historic base of the PRD demand the politicians' impeachments because of the Iguala
Massacre and other instances of repression.
Both administrations have
come under popular scrutiny for human rights violations, with some activists blaming Abarca for the 2013 killings of Iguala
Popular Unity movement leader Arturo Cardona and two of his supporters.
for their militant activism, Ayotzinapa students seized two Chilpancingo radio stations on September 28, broadcast messages
demanding justice for their slain classmates, and warned the government that further attacks would not be tolerated. On Monday,
September 29, about 3,000 students, parents and supporters rallied outside the Guerrero State Congress in an attempt to speak
Finding no lawmakers around, members of the crowd then
broke windows, stormed the office grounds, and set fire to a legislative library.
As the week progressed, other protests were held in Iguala, Tixtla and Arcelia. Students from rural teachers'
colleges across Mexico converged on Guerrero in solidarity with Ayotzinapa, and the large Guerrero State Coordination of Education
Workers discussed work stoppages to protest the Iguala killings.
Iguala Massacre was added to the agenda of Section 22 of the National Union of Education Workers in neighboring Oaxaca state,
as that powerful organization staged protests against repression. In addition to the murders of the Ayotzinapa students, Section
22 protested the recent disappearance of Veracruz teacher movement spokesman Zenyazen Escobar Garcia, the September 27 killing
of a Section 22 member in Oaxaca, and the attempted detention of a teacher caravan to Yucatan.
"For our fallen friends, not a minute of silence but a lifetime of struggle!' declared Section 22. "For
each voice they silence, thousands will rise up!'
Only days before
the Iguala Massacre, the police killings of three young men aged 17 to 18 triggered protests September 22-23 in Ciudad Hidalgo,
Michoacan. Residents torched a vehicle and fought with police outside city hall, resulting in 19 arrests for vandalism and
other alleged crimes. Separately, five municipal cops were detained and charged with murder in the case.
In Puebla, large protests demanding the ouster of Governor Rafael Moreno Valle have become
a regular occurrence since a violent police eviction of protesters left a 13-year-old boy dead last July.
In an ironic timing of sorts, activists, intellectuals and students gathered at the Autonomous
University of Guerrero recently for a seminar on the life and works of Jose Revueltas, the acclaimed Mexican writer and leftist
activist who was jailed repeatedly by government officials between the 1920s and 1960s, and even accused of instigating the
1968 student revolt. The shootings in nearby Iguala gave the event an extra relevancy.
"One of the things that have stayed the same is the possibility of criminalizing youth," commented writer
and presenter Juan Villoro. "A fact of being young in Mexico is the possibility of being collateral damage." The
participants of the Chilpancingo seminar devoted one-minute of silence to the memory of Raul Alvarez Garin, a leader of the
'68 movement who recently passed away.
But Alvarez's spirit appeared
alive and well as IPN students and their allies took to the streets of Mexico City in a massive show of force to press a 10-point
The students demand the firing of IPN Director Yoloxochitl
Bustamante; the expulsion of police and goon squads from the institution; greater government spending on science and technology;
transparency in the role of private interests at the school; the preservation of humanities, math and physics courses; and
the cancellation of administrative and academic changes that include a new rule students say infringes on freedom of expression
by prohibiting any activity that contradicts "the order, good name, academic prestige and dignity of the institution."
IPN students contend that the school's administration is attempting
to transform the school's various colleges into "training centers for the preparation of cheap of labor." Bolstered
by sympathetic students from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and the Autonomous Metropolitan University
of Mexico, an estimated 50,000 students marched through Mexico City on Tuesday, September 30.
At the conclusion of the march the protesters were met by Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, who agreed
to answer their demands no later than Friday, October 3. On the eve of the October 2 anniversary, UNAM students shut down
at least two campuses of the giant institution in solidarity with their fellow students from the IPN and Ayotzinapa.
Sources: El Universal, September
30 and October 1, 2014. Articles by Nurit Martinez and editorial staff. Milenio.com September 30, 2014. Arrobajuarez, September
30, 2014. El Sur, September 28, 29 and 30, 2014; October 1, 2014. Articles by Oscar Ricardo Muñoz Cano, Francisco Magaña,
Carlos Moreno A., Rosabla Ramirez Garcia, Jacob Morales Antonio, Lourdes Chavez, Alejandro Guerrero, Carmen Gonzalez Benicio,
and editorial staff. La Jornada (Guerrero edition), September 27, 28 and 30, 2014. Articles by Margena de la O and editorial
staff. La Jornada, September 22, 27, 28 and 30, 2014; October 1, 2014. Articles by Sergio Ocampo Arista, Ernesto Martinez,
Emir Olivares, Arturo Jimenez, Luis Hernandez Navarro, Pedro Miguel, Arturo Sanchez, and editorial staff. El Diario de Juarez/El
Universal/Excelsior, September 28 and 30, 2014. La Prensa/OEM, September 23, 2014. Proceso/Apro, July 31, 2014; September
29 and 30, 2014. Articles by Jesus Cantu, Ezequiel Flores Contreras and Pedro Matias.
Reprinted with authorization from Frontera NorteSur, a free, on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news source; translation FNS.
Frontera NorteSur (FNS)
Center for Latin American
and Border Studies
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, New Mexico