October 2nd and Ayotzinapa: The Best and The Worst

Photo SFC. Painting Gustavo Chavez.

October 2nd is an emblematic date. That day represents, in many ways, the best of Mexican society, because it alludes to the great student movement that, for two months, carried out one of the most important transformations in our history through a general student strike, which took the streets to peacefully demand political freedoms and democracy, which with thousands of members of brigades knew how to join together with the suburbs and popular neighborhoods, with the workers in the industrial zones, with peasants, with public employees, with the intellectual and artistic community.

’68 was a great youth festival, of enormous creativity and ingenuity, which had the ability to be seen and heard in unprecedented ways that won the debate with the Mexican State and showed it up as a repressive government, incapable of meeting the demands of public dialogue, transparency, and democracy.

It also represents the best, because it created an admirable organization, of direct, participatory and representative democracy through the school assemblies and their elected representatives, who could be removed at any time, and who brought their voice to the National Strike Council.

Finally, October 2nd is memorable for the popular solidarity it achieved, for the support and sympathy towards its demands and its struggle, and because it was the starting point of a feat that continued in the following years, where the generation of ’68 was a central protagonist in the collapse of the authoritarian system and in the transition to democracy, in addition to giving an enormous boost to popular struggles. All this makes the student movement of 1968 exemplary, which should be remembered for that and not only for the terrible tragedy that occurred on October 2nd.

And just as October 2nd is not forgotten, we also do not forget September 26th, 2014. That day, 43 students from the Isidro Burgos Normal Rural School in Ayotzinapa were repressed and disappeared. And although it is a tragic date that does not deserve forgiveness or forgetting, but rather memory, justice, reparation for damage and a guarantee of non-repetition, it should not be remembered only for the tragedy, but for the struggle it represents.

Because those 43 comapñeros who we are missing are part of the best of Mexico. Their example symbolizes the struggle of thousands of young students, men and women, teachers, mothers and fathers, supportive colleagues from their rural communities who have managed to maintain a model of popular education for the benefit of the poorest, despite the multiple repressions, murders, arrests and attacks to which rural normal schools have been subjected since they were created.

The struggle of Ayotzinapa, of the surviving victims, of their companions, of their families, of those who show solidarity with the search for the 43, has served to make the rural normal schools visible, so that they are recognized, so that they realize that they are not alone, and it has given them encouragement to resist. Ayotzinapa is a national struggle, with international resonance that has generated broad solidarity that must contribute to there being truth and justice. Therefore, September 26th is not forgotten.

And yet, October 2nd and September 26th also represent in many ways the worst of Mexican reality. In ’68, the authoritarian and repressive character of the Mexican State was evident; their inability to understand the students’ demands for freedom, democracy and justice. The state party regime responded with a campaign of defamation and derision, using all the media it controlled.

It forcibly mobilized the bureaucrats; threatened the movement from the Presidency of the Republic and established a state of siege, with the Army patrolling the streets, assaulting polytechnic and university facilities and repressing with public force the students, young men and women, who defended their schools with what they could. Finally, on October 2nd, a state crime occurred in which the Army, the Presidential General Staff, the Ministry of the Interior and the Presidency of the Republic participated.

Hundreds of students were massacred, arrested and imprisoned. The massacre was justified by referring to a conspiracy that sought to destabilize the country. And the worst thing is that this crime went unpunished. The material and intellectual perpetrators were never investigated or punished. A state crime also occurred in Ayotzinapa in which local, state and federal police participated, with the complicity or complacency of the military, a crime in which the municipal president of Iguala was involved. The material murderers were hitmen from the Guerreros Unidos criminal organization.

What happened that tragic night was a coordinated operation where all these entities were monitoring, in real time, the massacre perpetrated by the murderers. And, as in ’68, a State operation sought to erase the crime, separating the federal and state governments and holding only the criminals and the authorities of Iguala responsible, constructing a false historical truth. Nine years later, although there has been progress in the investigation, we continue to hope to find the 43 students we are missing, to know the truth, for justice to be applied and the intellectual and material authors of the crime to be punished.

Original article by Felipe Avila at https://tinyurl.com/5x6z8c2a

Translated by Schools for Chiapas.

Photo Schools for Chiapas.

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