Berkeley and San Francisco, Calif., April 6 — Parents and students with the Caravana 43 traveled to the Bay Area, where supporters organized five days of rallies, marches, forums, vigils and press conferences April 2-6. The visit will culminate this afternoon with a picket line at the Mexican Consulate in San Francisco. Hundreds of supporters turned out in both Berkeley and San Francisco with signs and banners in support of this grassroots struggle, led by the parents of disappeared Normalista students in Mexico. The disappearance of these youths has shaken the Mexican government to its core.
The group’s website states: “Caravana 43 is a project developed with the purpose of bringing to the United States parents and classmates of the 43 Normalista students who disappeared on September 26, 2014, in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico. There are three Caravanas covering over 40 cities from the U.S./Mexico border along the Pacific, Central and Atlantic region states. The main aim is to provide an international forum for the parents who have lost their children in a government of systemic violence and impunity. Another important goal of the Caravana is to shed light on U.S. foreign policy, specifically the Mérida Initiative and its connection to socioeconomic conditions and violence in Mexico.” (caravana43.com)
At the April 2 opening rally, one of the parents requested that supporters “ask the U.S. government to stop sending weapons to Mexico. … If the government must fall, so be it!” The next day, at a forum on the University of California at Berkeley campus, a parent, referring to Mexico, said: “If you vote, you should burn your ballot. … The people put the government in and can take it out.”
Included in the group were a Normalista student who escaped, joined by his brother and father. These family members had originally gone to the town of Ayotzinapa to bring him home, but wound up joining with him and others in their six-month struggle to find the missing students and get justice. The Normalista student challenged the Berkeley students not to “rest on their laurels,” referring to the radical reputation of the university, but to challenge the government here regarding all the police violence he had heard about in the U.S.