Students Disappear into Thin Air and Why We Should Care

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Edwin Carmona-Cruz is a senior international studies major.
Edwin Carmona-Cruz is a senior international studies major.

43 students have gone missing in the Mexican state of Guerrero with no trace left behind. These students, who were similar to you and me, were protesting to raise awareness over the massive amount of funding cuts their school along with many across the nation has received, and  tuition hikes made by the Mexican government. Although these are similarities we share with students in Mexico, details that have emerged from this case highlight the violence and corruption mexicans face while attempting to attain higher education.

This issue has come up at our school and school’s across the country where administration, along with political leaders, have decided to make higher education a business rather than a right, and in the case of Mexico, where we see mass media reporting their lives  being taken away by simply speaking up against the injustices they endure every single day. The disenfranchisement and vulnerability in the area of Ayotzinapa and Iguala, Guerrero has reached critical highs with the exacerbation of the “War on Drugs”.

The election of the current president Enrique Peña Nieto (E.P.N.), who belongs to the PRI – a political party that ruled Mexico for more than 70 years consecutively with a six year break – has caused many international issues. TIME magazine described E.P.N. as, “Saving Mexico” but what ‘Mexico’ is his administration saving? Does that mean allowing the Guerreros Unidos, the drug cartel who controls the area, to continue to extort innocent people and have them infiltrate the local police to maximize profits? El pueblo mexicano (Spanish for Mexican people) have not seen progress. Instead, they live with fear and some have to flee to the U.S. or be killed. Nine graves have been found in the mountains of Guerrero, filled with bodies to whom none of the 43 students’ DNA has matched. This creates an even more complex dilemma: How long has this been going on and who is behind all of this?

College students across Mexico and abroad, including Paris, France and Buenos Aires, Argentina, are all protesting and creating awareness because this issue is borderless and has no nationality; this issue is one that underprivileged students face, regardless of their background. The desire to know the fate of these 43 brothers and sisters has caused desperation in the country. What becomes an issue is the destruction: lighting city halls on fire and destroying other property. We have seen throughout history and time that violence does not end violence, even in times of hardships and lack of hope. A vulnerable population will not be taken seriously by this type of government if violence continues to occur. In a strategic nonviolent route, those in solidarity are destabilizing the economy by blocking off the coastal paradise of Acapulco, Guerrero and all of the toll booths leading to Mexico City, the capital.  By continuing to destabilizing the mexican economy internally, they continue to gain international attention from the media which will hopefully  pressure the mexican government to release information regarding the students and others missing.

The international community should stand in solidarity because these are the people that will shape tomorrow’s society. If students, like those in Mexico, continue to be killed, what will be left for the future of these countries? We have the immense privilege to be able to talk about issues and critique the way government institutions are run without having the fear of being killed. We should all have the freedom to express our opinion and as students of the University of San Francisco, who believe in social justice and equity, we should work with our administration to send our colleagues a message of support and hope that we are paying attention to their  struggle and their quest to fulfill their right to higher education.

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