As the Hong Kong students continue their protests, another group of students in Mexico have met their own conflict with the government. However, while the conflict in Mexico is conflicting with the government, the nature of the student protests are much different.
September 26, a group of activist students from the Ayotzinapa rural teachers college were heading to a protest over school hiring practices. The group was stopped by police and shot close to the town of Iguala, leaving three of them and three other bystanders killed. However, forty three of them have not been heard since, thus creating a concerned response from the citizens of Mexico. It is understood that these forty three students were abducted by the local police in alliance with local drug cartels. Witness and media reports also suggest that as this occurred, the federal police and the military remained passive in order to allow this to occur. In addition, these claims are backed up by the confessions of police offices that admitted to “handing the students over to the drugs gang in southern Guerrero state.” (Source: BBC) The collaboration of government agencies in the abduction has led to a major anti-government response from the Mexican community. With the arrest and testimony of two members of a drug gang, Mexican authorities have taken their attention upon a suspected mass grave; however, this is one of many mass graves encountered during the investigation: “In their search for any trace of the students, investigators have found at least 12 mass graves with dozens of unidentified bodies near Iguala.” (Source: The Huffington Post) Despite the fact that none of the graves have DNA matches with any of the students so far, finding these mass graves reveal an even greater concern to the residents of Mexico considering the massive amount of disappearances that reach numbers beyond 20,000. According to Human Rights Watch’s Nik Steinberg, who has extensively investigated the disappearances: “the evidence suggests not only that authorities have failed to investigate disappearances, but also, in many cases, that soldiers and police have helped to carry them out.” (Source: hrw.org) Particularly the fact that it did not take a long span of time to find 12 mass graves supports the claim that the Mexican authorities have failed to dwell deeper into their investigations.
56 people allegedly connected with the disappearances have been arrested; these people include members of drug cartels, police officers, and government officials. Around the same time frame the mayor of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, has resigned as the investigations of the case go on. Reports state that Jose Luis Abarca ordered the police to stop the students so they would not interrupt a speech his wife was giving in the town on September 26th. Currently authorities are looking for Abarca, for he is believed to be on the run. The police chief and his wife have become fugitives as well; arrest warrants have been issued for them due to their involvement in the disappearances.
Meanwhile, interactions with the central government are varied as some are willing to partake in dialog, others believe that the central government is as corrupt as the local governments, and others take the last view a step forward by taking a violent turn against the government. President Enrique Peña Nieto met with the families of the victims as 10 key demands were stated, thus leading to “a renewed search plan” culminating in the 56 arrests mentioned earlier. Mr. Peña Nieto “said that among the points agreed were that a panel of officials and parents be set up to provide information about the investigation and that better support would be provided to the relatives of the missing.” (Source: BBC) Nonetheless, even within the meeting there were claims that were reluctant to trust the government of Mexico in their actions and their promises. In an article from the L.A. Times, Professor John M. Ackerman from the National Autonomous University of Mexico states that “up until now, the international community had been fooled by President Enrique Peña Nieto's propaganda offensive, which has tried to portray him as an enlightened reformer. But recent events are finally bringing worldwide public opinion in line with what is actually happening.” (Source: L.A. Times) The opposition to the Mexican government culminates in the violent turn that the protests have had as of October 10th. “After clashing with riot police, about 200 demonstrators stormed an office building in the state capital, toppling and torching vehicles outside.” (Source: The Washington Post) Ultimately, the status of Mexico’s government continues to become unstable as the population’s trust becomes more reluctant by the second; with the current happenings shedding light upon Mexico’s corruption, the government loses support as more people begin to acknowledge the problematic circumstances within the state.
Mexico’s conditions are lamentable just as self-actualization begins catch up to more of the population, for as people continue to go missing, the government seems to not reciprocate much of an understanding to the sense despair and helplessness felt by the population. Of course, despair and helplessness in Mexico are only enhanced by the close ties between the government and criminal organizations, thus even the supposed sources of help are, in fact, the opposite.