Yesterday, forty-three empty chairs faced the Mexican embassy in London, mutely reproaching the government for hiding the truth about forty-three disappeared young men.

Mexico's disappeared students

That was Tilly’s concept (she organizes volunteer activities on Mexico for Amnesty International U.K.), but the chairs were turned to face into the street so that photographers could see the names and faces placed on them.

The van driver bringing us the chairs lost his way, so we had to wait a while, in rain which fortunately didn’t last too long.  The photographers who had shown up exercised patience, also skill and long arms to eliminate from view the inevitable parked cars in the foreground.  The embassy, interestingly, had taken down the flag it usually displays.

Mexico's disappeared students

On September 26, 2014, students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers College, in Guerrero state, were traveling in several buses toward Mexico City.  They intended to join a commemoration of the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre by government forces.  But they were stopped by police.  Several students were killed, others fled, and 43 have not been seen since.

There is outrage among the people of Guerrero.  The government has come up with changing stories, blaming the mayor of Iguala and his wife, or criminal gangs, and obstructing those who ask questions.  What Amnesty International asks, as so often, is “independent and impartial investigation”: for the truth to be known about what happened to the victims and who is responsible.  It’s by no means the only case of repression, cover-up, and impunity, but it’s one of the worst.


One thought on “Forty-three”

  1. Many immigrants from Guerrero live here in San Francisco, so there have been demonstrations here as well.

    This is an atrocity, and the Mexican federal government seems much more deeply involved than they have been willing to admit. The government needs to invite and then cooperate with an independent and impartial investigation.

    One messy little point that I think should be mentioned: these student teachers were travelling to Mexico City in buses which they didn’t own and hadn’t rented. They had borrowed the buses without asking, or stolen them, or hijacked them, depending on how you want to color the situation. Apparently this is a tradition on the Mexican left. A group will commandeer a bus, go to a demonstration, and then bring it back when they’re done.

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