Protesters rally for Mexican students

Hannah Luu and John Ambrosio

Demonstrators gathered in Union Square Park on Oct. 23 to call attention to the 43 students still missing after being abducted in Iguala, Mexico.

The group of approximately 50 activists handed out flyers urging New Yorkers to mail them to the Mexican Minister of Tourism to tell her that they will not go to Mexico for vacation because of the government’s lax response to last month’s kidnappings.

On Sept. 26, 57 students were abducted from the Escuela Normal Rural de Ayotzinapa by an unknown group, which the protesters said were corrupt members of Mexican law enforcement linked to the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel.

Elvira Liceaga, an NYU Center for Latin American Studies masters student and member of the protest, said the activists were calling on the media and world leaders to put more pressure on the Mexican federal government to find the still-missing students.

“We want to find them and know if they are alive or dead and call the attention of world media in order to press the Mexican president to quit and to take mob from the government,” Liceaga said.

Ricardo Lezema, another protester and a student at University of California, Davis, said the issue is important to students around the world and is the latest example of state-level corruption in Mexico.

“The reason people are here in New York and Los Angeles and Europe and Canada are because they are interested in making international pressure,” Lezama said. “The first narrative is that the students were handed to narco traffickers by police, and even if that’s true, the first point of contact was police — state-sponsored crime is main motivation.”

Angelica Lara, a senior at John Jay College, spoke at the protest and said those who gathered hoped it would raise awareness about the situation in Mexico.  She said she hoped the protest would motivate other students to take action.

“This is for all students to remember there are Latin American students [in their college],” Lara said to the crowd. “Do not underestimate what [Latin American students] can do, let the social clubs know why is going on.”

Lara said while the disappearance of the students has sparked protests, it is important to realize this is not an isolated incident and the events have been misrepresented by the Mexican media.

“The message from this protest is the fact that while the catalyst is 43 students, this has been happening forever as the biggest political strategy of the government to kill students and women,” Lara said. “All mass media is controlled by government. Internet is the only way to get information.”

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Oct. 27, print edition.  Email John Ambrosio and Hannah Luu at [email protected]