Over 300 Mexicans Protest for Missing Students Outside New York Mexican Consulate For Global Day of Action
More than 300 Mexicans and their friends and allies rallied outside the Mexican Consulate on Thursday afternoon on a global day of action to show solidarity with families in Mexico protesting the missing 43 Ayotzinapa students.
While the missing students are the focus of a growing social movement, the larger message is to denounce Mexican state-supported violence against the victims, and demonstrate frustration and outrage with the Mexican government.
The 43 students from the rural school 'Raul Isidro Burgos' from Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, were kidnapped by the local police more than one month ago and are still missing.
"I'm Mexican and my country hurts me. The injustice; right now we have 43 students missing for way too long. The only thing that citizens can do is to protest to make our voices known and make our voices heard and to come out here. I am very pained that I am not home today. And my country hurts me," Kelly Swartz, a CUNY PhD student from Mexico studying comparative literature, told Latin Post.
Swartz added, "It is such a beautiful country and the people are so wonderful. There is so much there, and it really pains me there is so much death and so much destruction and helplessness about what we can do. The only thing we can do is this, to protest. There are thousands and hundreds of people all over the world protesting today in Mexico, in France. Perhaps this will create some form of change."
Mexicans have been reacting with outrage over the disappearance of students from Ayotzinapa Teacher Training College in Guerrero state on Sept. 26, and a government response that has failed to explain what happened. What is known is the students were traveling to Iguala to raise money in three buses when police fired on students, killing six people, injuring 25 and kidnapping 43 mostly first-year students.
Investigators say Iguala Mayor Jose Luis Abarca and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda Villa, ordered police to confront the students, reportedly fearing the students would disrupt an event being led by his wife. Police allegedly turned over the kidnapped students to a local drug gang.
Mexico's Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam said they had two suspects who confessed to the killings of the students, the suspects having led them to an area with trash bags containing incinerated remains, although so far forensics have not confirmed whether the remains match any of the missing students.
Swartz told Latin Post she thought the students were probably dead.
"I know from personal experience what it is like to be waiting for someone to come back, to have some peace of mind, to give these 43 families the peace to know their children are dead and to bury them, that is worth gold, said Swartz. "And give all the other bodies that have been found in these mass graves burials. They need to be identified. We have a technology to do the DNA testing so they can be returned to every single family so they can have peace."
Swartz added, "I'm a teacher and I believe only through education can the world be changed and only through education can Mexico be changed. It is not only the loss of 43 students and it's the loss of 43 teachers, it's the loss of hundreds of classes that these teachers would have taught for the betterment of their community which would be the betterment of the state and the betterment of the country."
Among other locations, there were sister protests in France, Moscow, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
"I'm really tired [of] our government with the killing of many people like the 43 students. It is too much for the Mexican population. It is enough for us. We have to protest in Mexico, New York, Los Angeles, because we are all connected through the Internet and we can open our eyes, unlike in Mexico where television doesn't show reality. We are very sad and angry at the same time," said Ramiro Salu from Brooklyn.
Salu added, "But we have to be smart. We have to make a revolution, but without violence. It is the only way. We had a revolution a hundred years ago, that was a lesson. We are not going to solve anything with guns. We have to be smart, protest, but without violence."
The protest was organized on the same day that began the decade-long Mexican Revolution for independence.
Supporters then marched to Grand Central Station and then on to Dag Hammarskjold Plaza opposite the United Nations and gathered for a panel discussion at the Church Center for the U.N.
Earlier in the day, students at New York University held a panel discussion on Social Movements Facing the Violence in Mexico.