Hundreds of thousands of people have marched through the streets of Mexico on numerous occasions since the disappearance of 43 students from a rural teacher training college towards the end of September in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero. The initial cries were for these youngsters to be returned to their families alive, but on Friday 7th November, the Mexican attorney general Jesús Murillo Karam claimed that a number of charred remains had been found, and that they were thought to belong to the trainee teachers. According to Karam, 3 members of the drug cartel “Guerreros Unidos” confessed to murdering the students after the police of Iguala and Cocula had handed them over to the criminal organisation. Some of them were apparently dead or unconscious when they were given to the drug traffickers.
Far from the sanctioning of politicians for actions committed under their rule, Guerrero governor Ángel Aguirre was allowed to simply “separate himself from the post” on October 23rd after it became clear that the events were leading to significant showings of popular mobilisation throughout the country. Meanwhile, the mayor of Iguala and his wife were only arrested on November 4th. Nothing has been done to address the well-documented and long-established links between other state officials and drug cartels, nor have unjustly imprisoned members of autonomous community self-defence groups been released from jail. While the attorney general seeks to portray a small number of seemingly relevant detentions as a sign of successful investigations, however, many Mexicans know that ‘disappearances’ will not stop unless there is more profound change in the country’s political system.
In Mexico, the disappearance and suspected murder of 43 students is just the tip of the iceberg. The Mexican State recognises around 22,322 disappeared people, though the National Commission for Human Rights has registered around 27,000. A number of civilian groups claim they have proof of links between official state actors and drug cartels, and the lack of change in the country suggests they are right. Ideally, those seeking justice for the Mexican people would love to transform society peacefully. When massive peaceful demonstrations have no apparent impact on the government, however, the understandable and dignified rage of the population logically intensifies and becomes more and more desperate. In Ayotzinapa, government buildings have been set alight, while in Mexico City the doors of the National Palace were set alight on November 8th as a small number of protesters tried to break the doors down.
Over the last month, the vast majority of protesters showing their anger regarding the events in Guerrero have represented their sentiments in a measured and peaceful manner. As time passes, though, and nothing changes, the dignified rage of the People is bound to grow, and it is very possible that activists will become ever more revolutionary with their demands and actions.
If there are no answers, questions will become louder. If there is no justice, there can be no peace or ‘stability’. And if change does not come as a result of non-violent activism, people will be more and more likely to turn to violence. Whatever form actions take, though, they will be driven by a rage that is both dignified and necessary for Mexican society to be transformed.