Thousands of students in Mexico are participating in university strikes and nationwide protests in an effort to hold the government accountable for the disappearance of 43 student teachers. The students are an organizational backbone of the growing movement, which turned out tens of thousands in Mexico City, across the country and internationally. The protests are an ongoing demonstration of the strength of student power on the international stage.
Student teachers in the southwestern Mexican state of Guerrero went missing on the night of Sept. 26 after a planned protest in the city of Iguala. City police surrounded the students’ three buses, and in the ensuing chaos the police killed six people, some of them bystanders. A string of suspicious events — including the unearthing of several mass graves, the attempted escape of the city’s mayor and allegations that the police were acting in concert with the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel — sparked the protests currently going on in Mexico and around the world.
The movement for justice has been building since the students’ disappearance, but it gained prominence when Mexican Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam announced that cartel members had admitted to murdering the students and burning their remains. Last Thursday’s general strike was the largest demonstration to date. Students walked off their campuses and workers left their jobs to demand justice for the 43 students and those unidentified hundreds found in the mass graves. The national day of action garnered global support, with hundreds mobilizing in New York, thousands in Los Angeles and many more across the world.
In New York, protesters gathered outside the Mexican Consulate and, after a several hour long rally, marched down 42nd Street, briefly attempting to enter Grand Central Station. Demonstrators held signs reading “Repression in Mexico: Made in Washington,” in reference to American weapons sales to the Mexican government, which in turn arm cartels.
Americans should support the people of Mexico and pressure the American government to end its involvement in the violence in Mexico. There are several steps students at NYU should take to stand in solidarity with the students in Mexico, both those who have gone missing and those taking to the streets to bring about reform. Stay connected with groups that organize protests in the area, like the International Action Center in New York City, which helped organize Thursday’s protest. Take to the streets when there is injustice. Share information on social media to help keep the issue in the public eye — articles, photos and videos from a wide variety of sources are already available, but they need help from social media to garner more attention. Contact lawmakers about reformingU.S. policies that have contributed to the arming of cartels in Mexico.
Hopefully the movement continues to gain support worldwide. As students, we have an obligation to support our fellow students in Mexico who have shown tremendous courage in standing up to a brutal and repressive regime. Their actions are an inspiration to students everywhere, who must now bring the fight to our campuses.
Email Kevin Burns and Michael Domanico at [email protected]