On Monday, March 16, Omar Garcia Velà¡squez, a student from the Ayotzinapa Normal School traveled to Trinity and spoke to over a room of over 180 students, community members and professors. Velasquez described the rising social unrest in Mexico after the disappearance of 43 college students from Iguala, Mexico after a violent altercation with the police.
The event was organized by students Tessi Aguirre and Melissa Rodriguez; Katsuo Nishikawa, associate professor of political science; Arturo Madrid, professor of languages and literatures; Aaron Navarro, associate professor of history; Julio Cesar Guerrero, the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center,;the MAS (Mexico, the Americas, and Spain) program; the Southwest Workers Union and several other community organizers.
At the event, Velasquez shared details of the disappearances of the 43 students followed by a Q&A session from the Trinity community. The event was bilingual with Velasquez speaking in Spanish alternating with an English translator.
Nishikawa described the disappearance of the 43 students.
“This is a galvanizing moment in contemporary Mexican society. What we’re seeing in Mexico since the return of the PRI is a dramatic shift in democratic consolidation,” Nishikawa said.
At the event, Velasquez shared that the Mexican government considers the disappearances of the students as a closed case. But parents of the disappeared students are demanding to know the fate of their children and the government is not supplying specifics.
Tessi Aguirre, sophomore majoring in political science, explained the involvement of the Mexican government.
“The government has been trying to give an explanation for what happened. The problem is that it’s given too many explanations,” Aguirre stated.
Nishikawa noted how the disappearances have continued to a feeling of discontent among various facets of society.
“Growing discontent with all the corruption that is happening “¦ Since then there’s been a lot of street mobilization,” Nishikawa said. “The neat thing that it’s not only the traditional group of protesters; this time you see middle class, it’s all segments of society.”
Aguirre explained how the disappearances of the 43 students affected the populous.
“This brought an awakening in the population”¦this creates an outrage and it’s a cry of the people for liberty and freedom and justice and peace,” Aguirre said.
In response to the disappearances of the students, a caravan of protesters from Mexico is traveling across the United States to Washington D.C. and New York City demanding a change in foreign policy from the Obama Administration.
“There needs to be more pressure put on the U.S. government to pressure the Mexican government. It’s very difficult to ignore because Mexico is neighbors to the US,” Nishikawa said. “The US has a responsibility here. Where is the outrage from the Obama administration? There’s a real frustration from the Mexican people. People are no longer shrugging their shoulders, they’re clenching [their] fists.”
The caravan headed to Washington, D.C., and New York City has given the parents of the disappeared students a platform to speak, according to Aguirre.
“They are trying to create awareness about the problem that is happening,” Aguirre explained. “Not necessarily only the 43 people that disappeared, but also the millions and millions that have disappeared”¦as a cause of the struggle that has been going on for more than six years now.”
Nishikawa urged students to stand in solidarity with the disappeared students of Ayotzinapa.
“You’re students too. It doesn’t take much to empathize with their plight. These kids have the same goals and aspirations and fear that people reading this article will,” Nishikawa stated. “It could have been you. What would you have done if you were in that situation? Who wouldn’t be an activist?”