This is definitely a “unique” time to be in the mountains of Mexico. The killing of three students from the rural teachers college in Ayotzinapa and the disappearance of forty-three of their companions on September 26 has enraged and mobilized people not only in this state of Guerrero but people from all over the country. The common theme of these protests is, as can be seen in the photo below, “If there is no justice for the people, let there be no peace for the government.”
|This sign outside a junior high school in Axoxuca reads: "Ayotzi lives!! If there is no justice |
for the people, let there be no peace for the government."
Different government offices have been blocked, ransacked, or damaged. The mayor’s office in Tlapa has been “occupied” for several weeks now. Different schools and colleges are closed; roads are blocked; there are protest marches almost every other day. And it looks like the protests will continue for some time.
Three men are in jail who claim that they were part of the
gang who killed and burned the forty-three students. But so many people
distrust the security forces and the government that they demand proof of this.
In the search for the students, more than ten unmarked graves were found, with
more than sixty bodies in them, but none of those bodies have yet been
identified as one of the students. So the protest continues.
|The mayor's office and other city offices are closed in Tlapa|
|These children haven't had school for two months now...and no end in sight|
The Tlachinollan Human Rights Center of the Mountain (which has been a partner with Mission Mexico for many years) is the principal legal representative for the families of the forty-three missing students. Both the director, Abel Barrera (who has been to Calgary several times), and the main lawyer, Bidulfo Rosales (who had to spend time out of the country last year because of so many death threats against him), have been very, very busy lately. I had breakfast with Abel on Sunday morning; he had just returned from a quick trip to the offices of Amnesty International in Germany.
|Abel Barrera, internationally recognized human rights activist|
|Bidulfo Rosales, main legal representative for family of the 43 disappeared students|
At the same time that these struggles continue, life continues in many ways. The rainy season is drawing to a close. Families have been gathering their corn crops and putting the cobs out to dry. Then the kernels are removed from the cob and saved in large bags—and the hope is that there is enough to last until the next harvest.
And I was on the road a lot lately. I was in Yosondacua to
deliver many bags of threads to a sewing coop for women. I was in Copanatoyac
for a retreat for over 230 young people from that parish. I was in Xochitepec
with Fathers Juan and Hector as they (along with their volunteer team of five
young Mexicans from different places in the country) were preparing simple catechisms
in the native me’phaa language for the twenty-six villages in the parish.
|One family in Tres Caminos drying their corn of many colors|
|The cover for the catechism in the parish of Xochitepec; the me'phaa title means|
"We Follow the Way of Jesus."
Of course, there is such a thing as overdoing it (especially since I’m not a kid anymore), and I did spend the last couple of days sick in bed. But the rest did it, and I’m on the go again.
|I won the contest: my feet were the cleanest.|
Thanks to everyone supporting Mission Mexico. Every little bit of solidarity is a huge spark of encouragement to the people, and the hope that is nourished is a big factor in continuing the struggle for a more just and dignified life here. God bless.
|Mari, Baltazar, Gaudencio, and Eleuteria in Xochitepec|