Sunday, June 5, 2016


The recent publication of the second damning GIEI report, first publicized in the New York Times with subsequent coverage on National Public Radio is clear evidence that the Ayotzinapa movement has endured the test of time by staying in the world’s attention almost two years after the forced disappearance of the 43 normalistas. The Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts responsible for the GIEI Report (named such for its acronym in Spanish) was created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on March 2015 to investigate what happened to the 43 students on September 26, 2014 in Iguala, Guerrero.

Guernica by Pablo Picasso, 1937 Museo Reina SofiaMadridSpain
Guernica warns humanity against the devastation of war & suffering: aren't the forced disappearances of Ayotzinapa an annihalation of the worst sort?

In the highly competitive media industry that is always starving for new stories, it is difficult to keep any one single issue on people’s psyche among the many which compete for publication for several months, let alone almost two years. Yet Ayotzinapa won’t go away, despite orchestrated attempts by the Mexican authorities and its support from Mexican media to block any news about what happened. Only four months after the incident the then Mexican Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam closed the case to any further investigation, claiming that the criminal group Guerreros Unidos had detained, murdered and cremated the 43 students  to later throw the ashes in the San Juan River  because they were supposedly linked to their rival group Los Rojos.

The case is not unique among many other injustices committed against the people in Mexico; only this time, the Mexican government picked the wrong people to victimize. Cesar Chavez  in his folksy style of humor  used to tell a joke about a fellow who was a sharp shooter and would typically boast about it. To his credit, he would shoot flies in the air over and over again without a miss; however, when he was asked to shoot a bee, he said he couldn’t. "You see," he said, "the bees are organized and the flies are not. When you mess with a bee, you’ll get the entire beehive come after you."

Let’s not forget that the teaching college Raul Isidro Burgos in Ayotzinapa is part of the patrimony remaining from the Agrarian Revolution of 1910. In spite of the constant attacks from the government for their activist oriented pedagogy, 17 of the 29 Normal schools remain in operation. They were built to fulfill the legacy of bringing education to rural Mexico and have continued to jealously keep the post-Revolution vision of education reform, along with instilling social and political awareness and civic participation among the teachers in training. These are the breeding grounds of martyrized leaders like Lucio Cabañas and Genaro Vasquez who, in the 1970s, took arms against government policies.

El flautista (The Flutist) 1955 by Remedios Varo
Could the flutist be equated to the 43 seeds of Ayotzinapa's student teachers? 

The activism spearheaded by the parents of the 43 missing students has empowered many people who in the past remained silent to the violence. This kind of openness, according to Clemente Rodriguez Moreno  one of the parents  is extremely important for families to talk about on their own. It is indicative of the political work by the Ayotzinapa movement as it gives courage to many people who were afraid to talk about the violence they had endured and, in many cases, ended up fleeing from by emigrating to the United States. Omar Garcia, a student survivor of the attack, was quoted after the publication of the GIEI report as saying, Society needs to understand that this is the first time a movement led by victims of such crime have the courage to unite and march with their head up high, to withstand each retaliation and not to buckle under.

The United Nations has called on the Mexican Government to properly implement a follow-up mechanism in conjunction with the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights to keep track of the progress in the investigations in light of the lack of support from the Attorney General's Office (PGR: from its acronym in Spanish) and its campaigns to discredit the GIEI’s work and the results of its investigations.

About the Author

Julio César Guerrero earned a Master’s degree in both social work and telecommunications at the University of MichiganHe spent many years teaching in the Michigan University system, where he developed ample experience in student services, classroom teaching, community organization and development, social and human services, nonprofit and human services administration, community and media relations, diversity training, outreach, and recruitment.

Julio Cesar & I during Caravana43 followup, Dallas, TX
© Ana M. Fores Tamayo
As a pioneer in bilingual community radio, he participated in the development of KDNA, the first full-time Spanish language, non-commercial radio station in the United States, Radio Cadena National News in Washington State, KUFW-Radio Campesina for Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers in California, and KRZA-Radio Raza in Colorado. He also worked as a program director and producer for KPFT Pacifica Radio in Houston, KBBF in California, KUAT in Arizona, and WKAR in Michigan.

Under the role of community organizer, he participated in several educational events with union workers and human rights activists throughout the Midwest and Mexico, coordinated tri-national conferences for education and telecommunication workers from Canada, US, Mexico, and France, as well as the 2010 US Social Forum, and finally coordinated some of the largest Latino workers' leadership conferences for the Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations at the 
University of Michigan. 

Most recently, Julio César Guerrero worked nonstop as the national coordinator for Caravana43, an international support network for the Ayotzinapa families of the 43 forcibly disappeared students in Guerrero, Mexico, when they made their tour through the United States. 

Julio César Guerrero has been a frequent guest contributor to Adjunct Justice

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