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
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