Despair and Unrest in Mexico

By Vijay Prashad and cross-posted from Counterpunch.org

On April 24, thousands of demonstrators marched to the Angel of Independence monument in Mexico City from the municipality of Ecatepec. People from all kinds of backgrounds marched with signs that had the requisite dose of humour and anger. “Revolucion en la Plaza, en la Casa y en la Cama” (Revolution in the streets, at home and in bed), announced one woman, while another wrote on her pregnant belly: “Quiero nacer sin violencia” (I want to be born without violence). A resonant chant went “Ni sumisa, ni obediente. Soy libre, loca y valiente” (Neither submissive nor compliant. I’m free, crazy and brave).

The statistics explain the anger. Seven women are killed every day in Mexico. Over the past three decades, over 45,000 women have been killed. The passive voice is appropriate here. Over 95 per cent of these cases have not been properly investigated by the police and judged by the courts. The impunity rate is stunning. Two-thirds of Mexican women above the age of 15 report in surveys that they have experienced some form of physical or emotional abuse or discrimination at work.

The slogans for the march—“Vivas nos queremos” (We want to stay alive) and “Ni una menos” (Not one female less)—echoed other familiar slogans from earlier marches. During the disappearance of dissidents in the dirty wars of the 1980s in South and Central America, their supporters would mutter, “Vivos los queremos” (We want them alive) and “Ni uno mas” (Not one man less). This slogan has returned to Mexico, says Aurelia Gomez Unamuno, whose forthcoming book,Memoria y violencia, studies the memories and testimonies of Mexican guerrillas of an earlier era. In the most recent instance, 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College in the State of Guerrero vanished in September 2014. Their families and friends continue to fight to find out what happened to these young men who were training to be rural schoolteachers. “We want them alive” is the slogan for the “disappeared”. “We want to stay alive” is the slogan of the women.

Forty-three students’ disappearance

In 1968, as part of the Dirty War, the Mexican state massacred hundreds of students in Mexico City’s Tlatelolco section. Each year, there is a large demonstration at the Plaza de las Tres Culturas (the Plaza of Three Cultures), the site of the massacre. In 2014, the students at Ayotzinapa went off to commandeer buses so that they could go to that demonstration on October 2. These students were mainly indigenous Amerindians, one of the three cultures of Mexico (pre-Colombian, colonial Spanish and Mestizo). Masked men and the police ambushed the buses on their way back to the campus. Six students died at the scene. One bus, with 43 students, vanished. The government said that the local drug gang, Guerreros Unidos, had killed the students and incinerated their bodies. This, said Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam, was the “historical truth”. They wanted the case, as with other cases, to vanish

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