They took them alive, we want them back alive!: Minneapolis march demands justice for 43 disappeared students from Ayotzinapa, México
Minneapolis, MN – Around 40 people marched in Minneapolis on Jan. 26 to mark the date 16 months ago when 43 student activists were forcibly disappeared from Ayotzinapa, México. The marchers demanded that the Mexican government account for the still-missing students, echoing the demand of the families of the 43 students in México. The students were last seen when police detained them in Iguala, México in September 2014. The Mexican government still has not provided a credible explanation of what happened to them or where they are.
At the Minneapolis march, the lead banner read, “Vivos se los llevaron, vivos los queremos” (they took them alive, we want them back alive!), with images of the 43 missing students. Other banners said “Minnesota is Ayotzinapa,” and “Ayotzinapa’s disappearances are a shared responsibility of the Mexican and U.S. governments, through the U.S.-funded $2.1 billion genocidal drug war in México.”
The Minneapolis march began at Bloomington Avenue and Lake Street in front of Mercado Central. The marchers occupied both westbound lanes of traffic on Lake Street, marching to the statue of Mexican revolutionary General Emiliano Zapata in Plaza Centenario. Along the way they chanted “¡Ayotzinapa vive – la lucha sigue!” (Ayotzinapa lives – the struggle continues!).
At the Zapata statue the protesters called out the names of all 43 missing students, as well as several people who have been assassinated by the Mexican government, and responded after each name with a shout of “¡Presente!” The march then went east on Lake Street and ended at Walker Church with speakers expressing the importance of continuing the struggle to end state repression and impunity in México, which is financed and politically backed by the U.S. government.
The 43 missing students are just the tip of the iceberg of thousands of disappearances and killings in México in recent years as the Mexican government, police, military, narcotrafficking cartels and paramilitary formations are increasingly intertwined. The U.S. government continues to turn a blind eye and has continued plowing money into the Mexican government to the tune of over $2 billion just with the Merida Initiative since 2008. The U.S. continues to support the Mexican government despite its dubious human rights situation because it dutifully carries out a policy of austerity and privatization of state resources that benefits U.S. and multinational corporations.
The Jan. 26 march in Minneapolis was initiated by the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAC), an activist organization fighting for immigrant rights and equality in Minnesota. MIRAC also struggles against the injustices that force many people to migrate, such as the government repression faced by the students in Ayotzinapa.