On 26th September, a student led protest near the city of Iguala, Mexico, turned sour when their buses were attacked by police. 43 students were last seen being taken away by local police. During the protests, police fired on a group of some 100 students, killing six and injuring 25. Those who were taken away have not been heard from since.
Locals began to fear the worst when nine mass graves were uncovered in the week of 13th October. 28 badly burned and dismembered bodies were found. In the following days, two more mass graves have been uncovered in the area around Iguala, a fertile mountainside known as Loma del Zapatero. Local authorities refused to provide support to community police investigating the graves, and the major suspects are police officers.
Iguala is located in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero. With Mexicoís government struggling with drug cartels and corruption, the remotest areas of Mexico are often completely out of touch with the central authorities. The levels of corruption between police and local authorities are incredibly deep it is believed the police work closely with local drug cartels, the largest of which is related into the family of Iguala’s mayor. When the government is absent, the cartels rule. A community police officer was called by an unknown number shortly before he and his comrades discovered two more graves last week the voice on the other end told him to Stop poking around in those hills, or else.
The Mexican people in these rural areas consequently live in total fear. The students, who were pupils at Ayotzinapa Normal School, were aged between 16 and 18 and many of their families had enrolled them there to give them an opportunity to escape a life of subsistence farming. As with any totalitarian state, an intellectual class is one of the largest threats and the drug cartels that seek to assume control over the country have no desire to entertain such opposition.
It seems only a matter of time before the students are found in another mass grave. However, as of yet, forensic scientists have yet to identify any of the remains as any of the students. They are all locals, with some of the disappearances dating back years. The problem is far greater than the events of the past few weeks. With over 30 dead found so far, and at least 43 students still missing, the death toll may well reach into the hundreds. What has the government done about this? Armed police gendarmerie were sent to Iguala in the weeks following the protest. They patrolled the city square, and not much else. Anger at the lack of government action led to protests in Chilpancingo, the Guerrero State capital, 132 miles south of Mexico City government buildings were trashed and set fire to. The police response? More violence.
It is only in the face of citizenry reprisals that action has been taken. The Iguala mayor, Abarca, is allegedly on the run officially he is still in power. The Guerrero State Prosecutor and Mexican Attorney General have both called for there to be an investigation into the local police forces and for no effort to be spared in the search effort of the students but little actual action has been taken.
For Mexico to truly break free of its shackles, the local people must overthrow their corrupt authority figures and challenge the drug cartels that roam freely in the countryside. The government must take action across the whole country rather than just in built up areas.
Every Mexican who considers themselves a patriot must be willing to do what they can for their country a nation that is a third in the hands of the cartels could only be a few steps away from full-blown civil war. There have been several large demonstrations demanding justice for the 43 disappeared students, involving many tens of thousands of people. Although the international community is as unwilling to act as the Mexican government, this shows that the power to create true change really is in the hands of the people.