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University of MN vigil shows solidarity with 43 missing Mexican students

By Brad Sigal |
November 11, 2014
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Minneapolis vigil in solidarity with missing Mexican students
Minneapolis vigil in solidarity with missing Mexican students (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Minneapolis, MN - 50 students and community members gathered for a vigil Nov. 11 in solidarity with the 43 disappeared - and likely murdered - Mexican student activists in Ayotzinapa. The vigil was in front of Coffman Student Union at the University of Minnesota (UMN). Students held signs with the names and pictures of each of the 43 missing students, along with a banner that read, “Say no to repression!” in several languages.

Students and community members spoke out against the repression in Ayotzinapa, which is located in the Mexican state of Guerrero. Two speakers were from Guerrero and thanked students for expressing their solidarity. One student sang a song she had just written about Ayotzinapa.

The vigil was in response to the Sept. 23 abduction of 43 Mexican student activists, which has sparked massive outrage and deeply shaken Mexico . Many are referring to this incident as the straw the broke the camel’s back, after more than a decade of growing violence and impunity by the intertwined Mexican government, police and powerful drug cartels. In response to the massive protests, the Mexican government arrested the mayor of Iguala, Guerrero, his wife and some other people. Iguala is where the students went missing.

While thousands of Mexicans have gone missing or been brutally murdered in recent years with impunity, the Mexican federal government was forced to respond to Ayotzinapa because of the mass outrage. The government now claims that the 43 students were brutally murdered by members of a criminal drug cartel after being turned over to them by local police, for unexplained reasons. Families of the students do not trust the claims of the government and are waiting for forensic results from a lab in another country before believing the government’s version of events.

The 43 students from Ayotzinapa, a rural teachers’ college with a strong tradition of leftist activism, were preparing to participate in a commemoration of the 1968 massacre of students at Tlatelolco in Mexico , when they were abducted by police and disappeared. The students have been active in fighting against the privatization of public education in Mexico.

The University of Minnesota vigil was initiated by the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee-UMN and was endorsed by Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), La Raza Student Cultural Center, and the Spanish and Portuguese Studies Department.

The Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee distributed a statement urging people to call the Mexican consulate to demand that those responsible for Ayotzinapa be brought to justice, up to the highest levels. The statement also urged people to call the White House to demand that in light of Ayotzinapa and many other such incidents, the Obama administration should treat incoming Mexican and Central American migrants as refugees and should grant them legal protective status.