5:04 am - Wednesday September 20, 2017

Timely insights on Mexico

Demonstrations in Mexico

Human Rivers that Feed the Ocean of Democracy

By Ruben D. Arvizu

With a firm pace, due to the conviction of their cause, the crowd

fills the streets of the great Mexican metropolis, Mexico City that

is the capital of the country. Their faces reflect pain, despair,

anguish, but at the same time hope that their voices will be heard at

last! They are demanding the return of 43 students kidnapped

more than 40 days ago. Many are parents and families of these

young, soon to be teachers that on the night of September 26,

2014, disappeared by a coordinated and orderly police action taken

by the office of the Mayor of the city of Iguala, Guerrero. This city

is the cradle of the Mexican flag and the Plan of Iguala, of

February 24, 1824, that consolidated the independence of Mexico.

It is located about 100 miles from the famous tourist port of

Acapulco and a similar distance from the capital of the nation.

It is not an unheard of event, but a sequel repeated for decades in

the history of modern Mexico. During the last 25 years this terror

and injustice has prevailed in the country climbing to impressive

numbers. From the time of the presidency of Felipe Calderon

(2006-2012) up to the second year of the current president, Enrique

Peña Nieto, more than 100,000 people have died violently and

those that have disappeared reach more than 30,000.

This figure may be higher because many do not complain due to

the terror and the complicity of the authorities. These numbers are

worthy of revolutions and even international wars, but not of a

nation that prides itself on being a democratic regime emerging

into the world arena.

Human Rights Watch – HRW has said that the situation of human

rights in Mexico is critical. “The rule in Mexico is impunity and

Iguala’s case is extremely serious, but it is a symptom of a deeper

crisis that drags Mexico in human rights,” complained José Miguel

Vivanco, the Americas director at HRW.

Protests not only crowd the wide avenues and squares of the

former Aztec capital; in most Mexican cities and towns citizens

have come to express their anger and dissatisfaction with the way

the municipal, state and federal authorities have responded to the

violence and corruption. Insecurity permeates everywhere and

everything. All this continues despite the orchestrated

governmental PR campaigns that have invested large sums of

money for months projecting the image of the Mexican Moment,

the leap of Mexico to conquer worldwide markets.

Just last March, the TIME magazine international cover showed

the young Mexican president, calling him “The Savior of

Mexico”. This caused controversy and criticism in Mexico and

many voices accused TIME of having sold the cover and the very

favorable article that accompanied it. Nine months later, the same

magazine in its October issue highlighted in a headline: “The 

apparent slaughter of dozens of students exposed corruption in the

heart of Mexico”. This is a drastic change in its editorial.

The major television networks in the United States have not

reported the massive marches of the past two months. For some

strange reason, ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX still have kept an

ominous silence. CNN has published some minor stories and the

exception has been The New York Times, Washington Post, The

New Yorker, USA Today and a couple of notes in Time. AP,

Reuters and other news agencies have reported the news. European

newspapers including The Guardian, Le Monde, El Pais, published

major reports. The European Parliament issued a statement

regarding the disappearances and growing violence in Mexico and

made “recommendations to the Mexican government”. In

Germany, many voices were raised demanding that the

government of Angela Merkel review the treaty for business with

Mexico to be signed in December and the suspension of arms sales

to Mexico.

Internationally renowned figures have joined their voices in protest

demanding an immediate answer to the disappearance of the young

students and to put an end to violence and insecurity in Mexico, as

well as respect for freedom of expression. The murders and

disappearances of journalists and advocates for social and

environmental causes in Mexico continue to occur every other day,

making the country a dangerous place to exercise those freedoms.

During the march of November 5, 2014, in the city of Mexico,

Jody Williams, the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, said, “The

crisis in Mexico is not only humanitarian but political and

economic. It shows in a very painful way, the political

corruption”. She reported that the organization, Nobel Women

Initiative, created by the women Nobel Laureates of Peace, of

which she is a member, would send a letter to President Enrique 

Peña and international organizations requesting the urgent solution

to these problems.

Among the many slogans heard in these democratic protests, one

stands out which reflects one of the big problems that Mexico has

faced throughout its history, a secular apathy and indifference due

mainly to corruption and the lack of an efficient judicial system.

“We are not afraid to demonstrate, we only fear that people

will continue keeping silent”

We at NAPF join these protests and raise our voice. We hope the

Mexican Government will hear the cries of its citizens and of many

other countries calling for a peaceful and effective solution to the

serious problems facing the Mexican nation.

Rubén D. Arvizu is Director for Latin America of Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

Ambassador Global Cities Covenant on Climate and Director to Latin America for

Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society. Tweet @RubenD.Arvizu

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