With her permission, I am sharing Marta Sanchez's personal comment about 43 Mexican pre-service teachers who disappeared on September 26th. Marta is an assistant professor of social foundations at UNCW.
At the entrance of la Escuela Normal Rural “Raúl Isidro Burgos” is a sign that reads, “Ayotzinapa, the birthplace of social consciousness.” Murals covering the crumbling walls of this neglected school appropriately uphold this message, with images of Che Guevara, Emiliano Zapata, Subcomandante Marcos, and other revolutionaries, including Lucio Cabañas and Genaro Vasquez, native sons of Ayotzinapa and graduates of the school. Ayotzinapa, located in the Mexican state of Guerrero, has been in the news in México and internationally, because of the disappearance and suspected assassination of 43 pre-service educators from the Normal Rural Raul Isidro Burgos. In late September, the pre-service educators, or normalistas, were on their way to México City to march in protest and observance of the Night of Tlateloco, the 1968 state-led mass killing of students in the Plaza of Las Tres Culturas. The normalistas first stopped in the state capital, Iguala, to advocate for resources for the Normal Rural and to raise funds for the trip to México City. El boteo, as the fundraising is called because of the ‘botes’ or cans used for collecting money, was an annual event. A common and sanctioned practice is also to commandeer a bus to make the roundtrip to México City; the students did just that upon raising funds for gas. It was at that point that they were intercepted by local police. It was also then that the fact, fiction and horror of their ultimate whereabouts became enmeshed and buried in a series of bureaucratic moves at the highest levels of government. What is suspected is that they were killed by the state in collusion with organized crime, even as the rallying cry of protest has been, ¡Vivos se los llevaron, vivos los queremos!, Alive you have taken them, alive we want them!
Raul Isidro Burgos was a teacher, principal and founder of many rural schools, including the one in Ayotzinapa bearing his name. The school is the resting place of his remains, honoring his last wish. Burgos, like the 43 missing/kidnapped normalistas, upholds the great Mexican tradition of the rural educator to teach in the most remote and impoverished areas of México. This effort began in the 1930s under President Lázaro Cárdenas, who is perhaps best known for the expropriation of oil from British and Dutch companies, nationalizing it to be managed by Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), which he founded, a legacy now destroyed by the recent actions of the current president Enrique Peña Nieto involving fundamental changes to the Mexican constitution. Cárdenas’s social projects included the redistribution of agricultural land in accordance with the constitutional gains made by Mexican Revolution of 1910 (in which my paternal grandfather fought alongside with Emiliano Zapata for agrarian reform). Cárdenas also established a short-lived film industry that was to conscienticize the average Mexican on issues of social justice. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment was the creation of the Normal Rural, or rural normal school, to prepare and deploy teachers to the farthest, poorest corners of México to teach the basics but also the social justice ideology of his administration. Socialist education included advocating for one’s rights in areas where latifundismo, or Mexican feudalism of the hacienda system, continued as if the war for Mexican Independence and the Mexican Revolution had never happened.
To the present moment, all pre-service educators are expected to complete one year of service in a rural community. On my mother’s side of the family, I have six cousins who are teachers and who tell stories of returning to town from their rural placements perched atop stacks of corn on trucks hauling the fall harvest. They were responsible for providing materials and cleaning their classrooms, the socialist ideology long gone. But not in Ayotzinapa. There, the original aims of educating the poor, advocating for resources, and challenging the power exerted by the state, the church and the privileged have been upheld. Increasing threats are organized crime and the mining companies Gold Corp, Minaurum Gold, Zhong Ning Mining Investment de China, Vedome Resources, and Hoschild Mining, conducting open mining on land historically used by the Nahuas, Me’ phaa, ñu savi, Mestizo farmworker communities and Afromexicans (Guerrerro is the Mexican state with the largest population of Afromexicans), as reported by Desinformémonos. The economies of extraction operating under the logic of late, rapacious capitalism are destroying the future patrimony of the Mexican people and the country’s stunning geography. As a child, visits to my father’s side of the family started in his home state of Morelos. Our family there would take us on road trips to Acapulco, the most famous city in the state of Guerrero. We always stopped in Taxco, a mountain town known for generations of artisan silversmiths. The rugged terrain of the curvy two-lane highway to Acapulco with deep ravines on one side and a stone mountain wall on the other, was an exhilarating contrast to the deforested, street grid system of Chicago, where I was born and grew up. In the 1990s, Guerrerenses started arriving in large numbers to Chicago. My father asked, ‘What is pushing them out besides poverty?’
Although I was born in Chicago, I consider myself mexicana, and I am troubled by the developments of the past 8 years in México that represent an acceleration of the processes of neoliberalization (as England & Ward correctly observe that there is no “end state” to neoliberalism but rather ongoing neoliberalizing processes). These started in 1972 when the World Bank called México’s loan in what amounted to an economic coup that sent its growing economy into a tailspin. I am seeing how the shock doctrine is being deployed as a perverse pedagogy of the state. My heart is broken. I cry with the parents of the 43: ¡Vivos se los llevaron, vivos los queremos!
The missing 43 wanted to honor the fallen of 1968, and now Mexicans must ask ourselves how we will honor the 43.
1. Abel García Hernández
2. Abelardo Vázquez Peniten
3. Adán Abrajan de la Cruz
4. Alexander Mora Venancio
5. Antonio Santana Maestro
6. Benjamín Ascencio Bautista
7. Bernardo Flores Alcaraz
8. Carlos Iván Ramírez Villarreal
9. Carlos Lorenzo Hernández Muñoz
10. César Manuel González Hernández
11. Christian Alfonso Rodríguez Telumbre
12. Christian Tomas Colon Garnica
13. Cutberto Ortiz Ramos
14. Dorian González Parral
15. Emiliano Alen Gaspar de la Cruz.
16. Everardo Rodríguez Bello
17. Felipe Arnulfo Rosas
18. Giovanni Galindes Guerrero
19. Israel Caballero Sánchez
20. Israel Jacinto Lugardo
21. Jesús Jovany Rodríguez Tlatempa
22. Jonas Trujillo González
23. Jorge Álvarez Nava
24. Jorge Aníbal Cruz Mendoza
25. Jorge Antonio Tizapa Legideño
26. Jorge Luis González Parral
27. José Ángel Campos Cantor
28. José Ángel Navarrete González
29. -José Eduardo Bartolo Tlatempa
30. -José Luis Luna Torres
31. -Jhosivani Guerrero de la Cruz
32. -Julio César López Patolzin
33. -Leonel Castro Abarca
34. -Luis Ángel Abarca Carrillo
35. -Luis Ángel Francisco Arzola
36. -Magdaleno Rubén Lauro Villegas
37. -Marcial Pablo Baranda
38. -Marco Antonio Gómez Molina
39. -Martín Getsemany Sánchez García
40. -Mauricio Ortega Valerio
41. -Miguel Ángel Hernández Martínez
42. -Miguel Ángel Mendoza Zacarías
43. -Saúl Bruno García