Dec. 2, 2014 (San Diego) San Diegans from Mexican origin, and allies from multiple community groups, demanded the resignation of President of Mexico Enrique Pena Nieto at the Federal Buidling. This is an echo of marches in Mexico City, and across Mexico.
Marchers demanded that the 43 students from the Raul Isdro Burgos school in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, be presented alive. These are the students who went missing Sep. 26 near the city of Iguala in Guerrero. The students were taken by municipal police and turned over to the Guerreros Unidos, a drug cartel.
Since then much of Iguala’s municipal police, the Mayor of Iguala and his wife, the police of the Cocula Municipality have been arrested. The Governor of the state of Guerrero was forced to step down, and Mexico, has been convulsed by marches from outraged citizens.
San Diego Ayotzinapa supporters joined with the Ferguson, Missouri marchers, represented by the United Against Police Terror contingent, as well as Anonymous. In the view of many of the organizers both are connected. In Mexico, like Ferguson, there is impunity for police officers and nobody can trust the police. This is especially true if people are from minority communities, whether indigenous in Mexico, or communities of color in the United States. This is the link that was drawn by Bertha Gutierrez, and Catherine Mendonca during the rally. Both were organizers for both major contingents.
One of the origins for this is the war on drugs. Avery, one of the speakers, pointed out that African-American (and Latinos) are arrested at much higher rates than whites for drug use. They use drugs at same or lower rates than whites. He also said that the drug war has become a violence source in Mexico as well. Insofar as arrests of more minorities for drug offenses, the sentencing project has found this to be the case. They have written extensively on how the war on drugs impacts minority communities in the United States.
Regarding Mexico he did point to the Merida Initiative and how they have accelerated the violence in Mexico. This was supposed to disrupt organized crime, increase law’s role as a center for any law enforcement, border protection, and building safe communities. This last one is based on programs in the United States. Safe communities relies on the idea of people working with their police department to weed out bad elements.
Many activists are critical of the Merida initiative since it has not done any of what it supposedly intends to do, Instead, it has launched a new dirty war. According to activists and also observers in Mexico.
Nelyo Mendez, of the Frente Indigena de Organizaciones Binacionales, (Indigenous Front, Binational Organizations) thanked all “for that support and solidarity for our brothers students that due to an illusion to prepare their people, an illusion to better the living conditions of the poorest of Mexico, they went to that school where it is true. They form consciences and great men like the brothers Lucio Cabanas.”
He added that this school is where many of his companions, who are now revolutionary teachers in the south of Mexico, went. He then mentioned people who live in the Valley of San Quintin in Guerero, who earn $120 pesos that is $$9.30 dollars, for 10 hours of work. This is barely enough for a carton of eggs and two kilos (4 pounds) of tortillas. He emphasized that this is a “petroleum country, but the people have no money.” These are the people according to the activists, who are being systematically disappeared.
Given that we have seen 22,000 people go missing between the last administration and the present administration, the anger is real. There is a sense in Mexico that they can get away with anything including the disappearance of people. In this anger due to impunity many of the Ferguson activists are united. They fear the police in San Diego. The fear is that disappearances might becoming. All those chickens that we have planted though the use of force abroad, and teaching police forces abroad, will soon come home to roost.
There was some dance, and activists staged a die in of 43 volunteers to represent the 43 students who remain officially missing. Their remains, according to the Attorney General of Mexico, Jesus Murillo Karam, were sent to a lab in Austria for DNA positive identification. The remains were so badly burned that DNA positive ID will be difficult to do. This was during a press conference in October where after an hour, he famously said, “I am tired, ya me canse,” where the twitter hashtag was born.
Before the march started Reporting San Diego talked with Marco Amaral, another organizer. In his view the only reason why the White House is revising the Pentagon Program that is equipping police, and starting the task force to solve the issues between communities of color and police is street pressure. The same goes for the 11 students in Mexico who were released after detainment Nov. 20. Those students were charged with a panoply of extremely serious charges. They also feared disappearance.
Amaral said that the pressure coming from people marching in the streets “to demand justice in our own communities.” He also said that the militarization of the police is a way to suppress social movements. This is not limited to the United States and we are seeing it all over the world.
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Editors Note: We added some black and white pictures drawing a connection to the movements of the 1960s.