A year ago Amnesty International ran an ad campaign with the words “It’s not happening here. But it is happening now.” These words have been running through my mind since first hearing about the 43 disappeared students from the Rural Normal School of Ayotzinapa, in the Mexican state of Guerrero:
I was in Mexico the week of November 7, where other young Mexican Jesuits shared how this could have been them, several being from the state of Guerrero. There was a palpable state of fear, frustration, disappointment and confusion amongst the conversations that were had about the 43 missing students, emotions echoed throughout the country in marches and organized demonstrations at over a hundred schools throughout Mexico.
When I returned to the US, I found myself wrestling with those words of Amnesty International, “it’s not happening here”. As I checked the newspapers every day for news on the unfolding events and found no coverage at all, I wondered why it was that our US English-speaking media had largely ignored the situation of the 43 missing students. Because the reality is that it is happening here, and it is happening now. Our globalized reality connects us more closely than the absence of news on this event leads us to recognize. Mexico is a major supplier of heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana to the US. The US consumption of the drugs that Mexican cartels smuggle into the US fuel violence and atrocities like this disappearance of the 43 students. The War on Drugs declared in 2006 has escalated the violence as the drug cartels battle the government and one another for territory. The fear and frustration from living in this reality leads millions to seek a safer, more secure life here in this country.
On the day that many awaited the announcement of President Obama’s executive action on immigration, thousands were protesting throughout Mexico, in an act that has finally captured some well-deserved the attention. And throughout the United States – in Chicago, in Los Angeles and Orange County, and in El Paso, just to name a few cities – groups have been gathering in solidarity with the families of the disappeared, demanding justice and action, with signs that read “We Are All Ayotzinapa” and “I am Tired”1 – the people demonstrating are tired of living in fear for many of their family members who suffer from the violence that exists in Mexico. They are tired of getting no answers on the fate of the many disappeared.
We’re all neighbors here. The kinship that binds us to our neighbors around us, is also the kinship that ties us to those who suffer in Mexico. The unavoidable reality that we are all interconnected is an invitation to stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers who are suffering. Let us not forget that we belong to one another. We are all Ayotzinapa.
Cover image courtesy Flickr user Miriana Moro, found here.
- This is in reference to the Attorney General’s under-his-breath response to the questions he was being asked by press when he announced the possible finding of the remains of the 43 students. ↩