On Sept. 26 last year, the students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College of Ayotzinapa were forcibly disappeared after a police attack, sparking a series of nationwide protests. The violent repression of these protests made international headlines.
From April 8 to 11, the Atlantic Region “Caravana 43” delegation spent four days in the Philadelphia area visiting Temple University, Haverford College, the University of Pennsylvania and other community venues. Their goal was to raise awareness here of the direct involvement of the U.S., through its foreign and economic policies, in the violence and repression experienced in Mexico.
On April 10 in Love Park, after traditionally dressed performers had danced to drums and guitars, speakers explained that the Ayotzinapa incident has become representative of a much larger surge in violence. Over 100,000 people have died and 25,000 have disappeared over the last eight years in Mexico as a result of government corruption, organized crime and a failed war on drugs.
The caravanistas displayed a 25-foot long white banner proclaiming “Ferguson = Ayotzinapa.” Carmen Guerrero had spoken earlier in the week to a Town Hall meeting of activists from the Coalition for REAL Justice fighting police violence. Some of those youth joined the Ayotzinapa event.
Marching in the streets from Love Park to the Mexican Consulate, demonstrators carried bright banners and white crosses bearing the names of the 43 disappeared students. They chanted in Spanish and English, interrupted every few blocks by speakers who urged crowds on the sidewalks to get their political officials to oppose Plan Mexico. “Stop sending weapons to Mexico. They are used to murder innocent people,” Guerrero and other leaders said over the sound system.
An end rally in front of the Mexican Consulate featured Anayeli Guerrero de la Cruz, sister of disappeared Oshivani Guerrero de la Cruz, and Felipe de la Cruz Sandoval, teacher and father of Ángel Nery, who survived the police attacks.