Wisconsin stands in solidarity with Ayotzinapa: Caravana 43 in Milwaukee
Milwaukee, WI – The case of the forced disappearance of 43 Ayotzinapa students in Iguala, Mexico continues to draw immense support from communities across the nation, including Milwaukee, where over 150 students and community members participated in the Caravana 43 event on the UW-Milwaukee’s campus April 2.
The Caravana 43, a caravan named after the number of disappeared students, is composed of family members and fellow Ayotzinapa comrades who are touring the U.S. to share the truth about the incidents that occurred in Mexico the night of Sept. 26, 2014, as well as other issues affecting Mexican communities internationally.
The Caravana delegation brought the mother and uncle of two of the 43 disappeared and a fellow student who survived the night that Iguala police cowardly attacked the Normalistas (rural student teachers). The panel discussion shed light on the Ayotzinapa incidents as well as on what could be considered the roots of the problem.
U.S. foreign policy was discussed throughout the program. The panelists discussed the importance of speaking about the Merida Initiative, as it has contributed to the violence now widely spread in Mexico. The Merida Initiative is a bilateral economic agreement between the U.S. and Mexico that pours millions of dollars per year into the Mexican state to 'combat' organized crime and criminal organizations. The initiative also sends U.S. arms into Mexico.
According to the delegation, the more the U.S. supplies the Mexican government, the more they help the drug cartels, as they are the ones that in part enjoy the benefits of the Merida Initiative. They also expressed anger with this policy and the overall U.S. backed neo-liberal efforts, such as NAFTA, which has further marginalized poor and indigenous communities, has spread more violence to Mexican communities, and has expanded the cartels.
The delegation asked the audience to call and write letters to members of congress demanding the U.S. end aid to Mexico through the Merida Initiative.
According to the panelists, this is not the first time the Mexican government has carried out large scale attacks on students. These events have continuously occurred and have been covered up by Mexican authorities. The most infamous precedent is the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre, the event which the Normalistas were preparing to commemorate before their 2014 disappearance.
The Caravana delegation expressed frustration with the Mexican authorities for their lack of cooperation with the families of the 43. According to the delegation, the Mexican state has denied reports to the families, including reports on telecommunications and forensics.
The Mexican state has stated that they have found the bodies of 28 of the disappeared in a mass grave, which was proven false by outside forensic teams. The surviving Normalista, Omar Garcia, stated, the government offered the families “chicken and cow bones” claiming that they were remnants of the 43.
“It opened my eyes and exposed me to the truth,” said Eric Corona, who attended the Caravan event. “Hearing the atrocities happening to students like me in Mexico gave me goose bumps,” said Yoselin Colorado, who attended the panel as well.
The panelists asked the public to look for alternative modes of obtaining news. They asked the public to stop watching Televisa and TV Azteca as these mainstream news sources are bought by the Mexican state and only misinform the people about what is occurring with the Ayotzinapa case.
The Caravana 43 delegation closed by stating, “We must stand our ground and not give up,” and “We must lose fear to be strong.” As a final request, they asked the public to continue spreading the word about Ayotzinapa as well as participate in international solidarity actions happening the 26th of every month.
The event was organized by Youth Empowered in the Struggle-UWM in collaboration with Voces de la Frontera and Caravana 43.
Vivos se los llevaron, vivos los queremos!