Los 43: Remembering the Disappeared Students of Ayotzinapa

Tiana Whaley reads a recent article on the events of Sept. 26, 2014 and wonders how this tragedy could happen

By Prof. Christina Baker.

The evening of September 26th, 2014, 43 students of Ayotzinapa, in the state of Guerrero, Mexico disappeared. These “normalista” students were studying to become teachers in Mexico and were not only being trained in pedagogy but also leftist political ideals. The night of September 26th, this group of 43, along with many others, embarked on a journey to Mexico City to protest education reforms as well as participate in commemorating the students massacred in Mexico’s Plaza de Tres Culturas on October 2, 1968.

Creating a collective Ayotzinapa memory wall underway at la Casa Hispánica

The search for these missing 43 students has unearthed numerous unmarked mass graves in Mexico and many remains of other missing and disappeared citizens. However, the search has yet to produce any evidence of these students. There have been numerous investigations, findings and reports, though no concrete answer exists. The state blames the students and cartels. The families blame the state. The students remain missing and no one has admitted guilt.

HISP 207 student, Maggie McCarty paints her hand as an act of remembrance

In honor of these missing 43 students, William & Mary students from Prof. Christina Baker’s HISP 207: Cross-Cultural Perspectives, in collaboration with Pablo Moral of the Casa Hispánica observed the loss. The students discussed news articles, posed questions and thought critically about how such tragedy could happen. The students, lastly, engaged in an act of mourning and remembrance. The students wrote letters to the missing 43 in solidarity with them and wishing them a safe return. They also participated in an act all too familiar on the streets of Mexico: Counting in unison to 43 and chanting the refrain “Vivos se los llevaron, vivos los queremos” (‘Alive they were taken, Alive we want them’).

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