Professors Hold Dialogue About Ayotzinapa Students Murdered in Mexico

By: Diego Huaman

Professors Viviane Mahieux and Jacobo Sefamí organized a teach-in and dialogue last Tuesday regarding the events that have recently unfolded in Iguala, Mexico as six students were tragically murdered and another 43 disappeared in late September.

“This was an opportunity to come to a better collective understanding of the events surrounding the tragedy and express our solidarity as a university community with the civil practices and peaceful protests that have been happening in Mexico and around the world,” Mahieux said.

Students were traveling from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Teachers College of Ayotzinapa, a school with a historic reputation for student activism, to Iguala, Guerrero in Mexico on Sept. 26, 2014 to protest and disrupt an annual conference held by José Luis Abarca Velázquez, mayor of Iguala, and his wife, María de los Ángeles Pineda.

They wanted to voice their concern against the funding and discriminatory hiring practices of the Mexican government whose programs seemingly preferred employing inner city area teachers and supported only student colleges in urban areas as opposed to rural ones.

Iguala municipal police forces interrupted the students’ journey to the conference. Subsequently, a confrontation developed between both parties of which details remain unknown. However, the police forces were responsible for not only the death of two students but in the crossfire of a related incident, killed a football player, bus driver and a woman being driven in a taxi. Police opened fire after they wrongfully identified a bus they believed the students were using for their protest. The following day, the body of a student that attempted to flee the scene was discovered. He was grotesquely murdered.

Students taken into custody by the Iguala police forces were handed over to police in Cocula. Following the orders of César Nava González, deputy police chief, the students were taken to Pueblo Viejo, a rural community. Police then knowingly gave the students to a crime syndicate known as the United Warriors. Sidronio Casarrubias Salgado, head of the organization, was purposefully misinformed that the captured students were rival gang members and gave the orders to execute them.

43 students remain missing and are presumed to have been murdered by the United Warriors. 14 returned safely to their families.

As of Nov. 7, members of the United Warriors have been arrested among 70 suspects and confirmed their role in murdering the students.

The mayor of Iguala and his wife disappeared following the incident but were captured and arrested due to the fact they conspired with the United Warriors to kidnap and execute the students.

“We want to encourage faculty, staff and students to talk about these events, which are still unfolding, to not stay quiet, to act as members of a community who are tired of violence and impunity and demand change,” said Mahieux.

After briefly summarizing the events that occurred, Mahieux and Sefamí read the names of each of the 43 disappeared students, along with personal details about them and descriptions as listed in a speech written by Mexican writer and intellectual, Elena Poniatowska, which she read in front of tens of thousands of people in Mexico City Zócalo.

Mahieux and Sefamí then read a letter of support and collected signatures from those in attendance. The letter expressed their solidarity with those protesting and demanded transparency.

The letter states: “We ask for an end to impunity and heinous acts of violence, and demand justice for the 6 murdered and 43 disappeared students in Iguala, Mexico.”