[OP-ED] Mexico Deserves a New Era of Justice
Eight days, 12 miles, 44 bodies.
On Oct. 2, 1968, 44 protesting college student- activists were massacred by the Mexican government in what is now known as the Tlatelolco Massacre. Eight days later, 12 miles away, Mexico City displayed no evidence of its government’s gross crimes as the capital city welcomed the rest of the world to the 1968 Opening Ceremony of the Summer Olympics.
Observing and engaging in activism is a right of passage for youths around the world. It is an activity that often conjures up immense feelings of pride, strength, and a responsibility to act. In 1968, students around the world were leading movements for change within their own governments. From the May protest in France to the American Civil Rights Movement, strong people were speaking out. In Mexico, students also felt the need for change, so they began to protest throughout Mexico city.
Following the 1968 massacre, a quagmire unfolded. The actual number of people killed or missing has been greatly disputed by both the Government (who committed the atrocious act) and citizens who were at the Plaza de las Tres Culturas where the shootings occurred. The disparity of reported casualties ranging from 25 all the way up to hundreds of people exemplifies the Mexican government's failure to initiate a process for seeking justice.
Fifty years later, the Mexican people should be outraged by the lack of action investigating this egregious tragedy.
It was not until last week that government officials in Mexico ruled for the first time that the Tlatelolco Massacre was indeed a state crime.
In 2014, 46 years after the original Tlatelolco massacre, 43 college boys went missing whilst attempting to attend a memorial for the original massacre.
In the state of Guerrero Mexico, 43 families live in a cruel, heartbreaking, desolate, perpetual limbo. A dark stain on the record of President Enrique Peña Nieto, and an even darker stain on the lives of 43 mothers and fathers who have gone 1,469 days without any notion of what happened to their sons.
Sept. 26, 2018 was the four year anniversary of the 43 missing students. The unsolved case has brought outrage as Mexicans have rejected the narrative that the Mexican Government shared regarding the missing students.
The Mexican Government claims that students were kidnapped by local police officers who turned them over to a drug gang. The gang killed them and burned their bodies in a nearby garbage dump, leaving no remains. However, as said by Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, reporter for Mexico at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, “The commission does not accept that narrative… because it hurts us, it outrages us and the families of the victims simply do not tolerate it.”
Numerous private investigators have rebuffed the Mexican Government's claims of what happened to the 43. In 2015, The Intercept published a two-part investigation into the students’ disappearance, which found significant flaws in the government's reporting of events.
Every year on the anniversary of the 43 missing men, irate protesters march down the main avenue of Mexico City demanding answers. The Ayotzinapa 43, named after the college they attended simply stands as a symbol of the impunity, violence, and corruption, which continuously ails Mexico under Peña Nieto’s leadership.
104,583. That is the number of homicides that have occurred throughout President Peña Nieto’s six year term. Yet, the 43 missing boys still served as a turning point in the country’s history. No longer will people ignore how Nieto’s actions have contributed to the the death of hundreds of thousands of people.
Nieto’s leadership has turned Mexico into a land with a reckless approach to human rights. A country where cartels work with police and where those responsible for crimes such as torture, extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances are rarely brought before the courts.
On Dec. 1, 2018 Andrés Manuel López Obrador (Aml0) will succeed Enrique Pena Nieto as the new President of Mexico. This succession must finally bring justice to the numerous missing students.
The dawning of a new error in Mexican politics is an opportunity for change. Amlo has already taken steps to meet with the families of the 43 in Mexico city, and has pledged justice. “We shall not fear the truth. Our institutions are strengthened with the truth. It is not true that they will be weakened by an investigation. What weakens them is hiding the truth.”
I have hope that one day the 43 mothers and fathers in Guerrero will be reunited with their families, that the perpetual limbo will cease, and answers will finally come. Just as I have hope, that justice will come to the victims of Tlatelolco. One thing is for sure: Peña Nieto and his government will forever be remembered for the lives lost in their administration due to negligence. 104,583 lives have been lost in Mexico throughout Peña Nieto’s term. That is 104,583 people who all had loved ones that they left behind. Each homicide victim under Nieto’s 6 year term deserves to be memorialized.