The weekly newsletter of the México Solidarity Project


June 8, 2022/ This week's issue/ Meizhu Lui, for the editorial team

A Continuing Horror: Dead Students, México Style

In the United States, we’re reeling from still another school shooting. Nineteen children dead in Uvalde.


The parents of these nineteen know how their kids died and at whose hands. A desperate, misguided, suicidal young man took their children’s lives, just as similarly desperate young men have taken so many other lives at US schools. The pain we feel from all these deaths comes in part from their randomness, their senselessness, their utter preventability.


In México, students have been victims too. But the parents of the 43 young people lost in México’s most horrific incident still do not know what exactly happened on that terrible day in 2014 when they got the news that their loved ones studying at the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College had gone missing.


These parents would go through still more horror when the authorities told them that drug gangs had shot their sons and burned their bodies in a dump. But then that story turned out to be false. Once again, the parents found themselves thrown into the anguish of uncertainty. Without knowing, they can’t move forward.


These parents, all from a poor rural community, have now changed their lives and taken on powerful forces in their search for answers to simple questions: What happened? Where have our sons gone? The Ayotzinapa parents have literally been digging for bodies — and digging politically for truth.


As Clemente Rodriguez, the father of one missing student, explains in our interview this week, the Ayotzinapa families have followed threads that have taken them from Guerrero to Chicago and Israel. Only one thing they do know for sure: Their own government and military played an ugly role.


From Uvalde to Iguala, parents are grieving. Nothing can be worse than losing a child. In the natural order of things, they outlive us, not us them. We can’t bring back the dead, but, as US labor icon Mother Jones once exhorted, we can sure fight like hell for the living.


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43 Missing Students: The Parent Search for Justice

The lives of Clemente Rodríguez Moreno and his family changed forever in 2014 when their son became one of 43 students at the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers College who suddenly disappeared. Clemente had been making a living selling water on the streets of Iguala, a small city in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero. Over the eight years since, he’s been seeking to get to the bottom of his son’s disappearance.


Your son Christian Alfonso Rodríguez Telumbre had a life, not just a death. How would you describe him?

Clemente Rodríguez: Christian loved danza folklórica — folk dancing — from the time he was small. Unlike me, with my clumsy feet, he could perform the zapateado, a sort of tap dancing with a lot of foot stamping. Because of his interest in animals and plants, he studied agronomy. Ayotzinapa had classes that experimented with different models of farming, and that excited Christian. But he thought that if he couldn’t get a job in agronomy, maybe he could start a dance school!


The students at Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers College come from poorer local families. The college has a history of political activism. Was your son involved in politics?


Christian was only 19, and his views were just beginning to form. So he wasn’t involved. But he, like other students and their families, learned at the school that they have rights: the right to a free education, the right to be provided with the basic “food basket” for a survival standard of living, the right to free health care.

The school at that time had a bilingual track for students who spoke many different indigenous languages. The students were speaking to their communities in their own languages and letting people know their rights. The government didn’t like that.


How did you find out Christian had gone missing?


Students in the Comité, the student union, called the parents. I live five minutes from the school. We wanted to go with clubs and machetes to defend our children. We went to the police, to the hospitals, to government offices. People we met said to us, “Ask the police and the military, they know!” But we couldn’t get any information, and we couldn’t find our sons. After a week, we went out into the countryside to search, but still nothing.

We found out that the students had commandeered some buses to go to México City for the annual October 2 march in remembrance of the students shot and killed in 1968 demonstrating against the government. Ayotzinapa students who survived told us that they accidentally took a wrong bus. They found cocaine, German guns, and $10 million dollars on it. But when they told the police, the police did nothing.

Illustration: Dante Aguilera

That’s when we all realized that criminal organizations worked together with the police.


Do you see a difference between how Peña-Nieto, México’s past president, and Lopez-Obrador, the current president, have gone about trying to solve this horrific case?


A lot of difference! Peña-Nieto shut the door in our faces. At first he gave permission for an independent international team to investigate, but then he threw those investigators out after a year when they got too close to the truth!


On December 4, 2018, his third day in office, AMLO established a commission to find the truth and seek justice for our families. That commission’s investigation has gone from the municipal police in Iguala to the governor of Guerrero to the military all the way to Chicago, the destination for the cocaine on the bus. A person from Chicago has been extradited to México, and he’s now sitting in jail. Also, a warrant went out for the arrest of the local police chief, Tomás Zerón, but he fled to Israel, and officials there have refused México’s request that he be extradited.


AMLO brought back the international investigators and forced the military to show them classified videos taken from the air on the day the students were said to have been killed by drug gangs and their bodies burned up at the Cocula dump. That “official story" was an invention. The video, just made public this past April, shows clearly that the Mexican Navy played a role in the cover-up.

You continue to march and protest. You have another protest upcoming in México City later this month, on June 26. On June 27, you’ll be laying flowers for the missing students back home in Iguala. What do you see as the goals of the Ayotzinapa movement right now?

We parents have four demands. Investigate the former governor of Guerrero. Get Tomás Zerón, the fugitive police chief, extradited from Israel. Bring to justice then-Secretary of Defense Salvador Cienfuegos, the official who led the Navy in the cover-up. Stop the trafficking of illegal drugs from Iguala in Guerrero to Chicago.


We want to know what happened to our sons. Are they alive? Where are their bodies? We want those who did this to be brought to justice. We parents can’t sleep without the truth. We will continue to suffer. And we will continue to fight for a better México, a better life for our country’s children.


Imperialist Hubris at the Summit of the Americas

Joe Biden has totally bungled the Summit of the Americas, the triennial meeting the United States is hosting this week in Los Angeles.


The Summit often gets billed as the western hemispherespremier” gathering, a session that brings together leaders from all the countries of the Americas. At least, thats the way the Summit of the Americas is supposed to work. Instead, the Biden administration, waiting until the 11th hour to issue invites, opted this year to deliberately exclude the presidents of Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua.

The US Department of State and the Organization of American States insist that those three countries should not be invited because they don’t rate as “democracies.” In a show of imperialist hubris, Washington has anointed itself as the arbiter of democracy, this despite the democratic deficit in the US that all can see.

The Biden administration, since that decision to exclude Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua, has been forced to contend with mounting pressure from leaders such as Mexicos Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Bolivias Lucho Arce. Both have said they would skip the Summit if the US insists on excluding any country. 


The White House does not seem to understand that the heyday of US dominance has now passed. No longer will pliant leaders simply do what the man in Washington says. Latin America and the Caribbean are demanding that their sovereignty be respected.


The failure of this 2022 Summit of the Americas could be the final nail in the coffin of an outdated model. Elected leaders throughout the hemisphere have already begun expressing a commitment to regional integration. México last year hosted the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, an 11-year-old multilateral body that includes every state in the hemisphere with the notable exception of Canada and the US. AMLO welcomed Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela at this CELAC session and proposed that the Organization of American States needed to be replaced with a new body independent of the US.


No matter what happens this week in Los Angeles, no matter who gets invited and who ultimately attends, Biden has succeeded in deepening the mistrust many of the regions leaders feel toward the US. As AMLO has repeatedly stressed, a Summit of the Americas that does not include all of the countries of the Americas amounts to no summit at all.

José Luis Granados Ceja, a Mexican freelance journalist, is currently studying human rights and popular democracy at the Autonomous
University of Mexico City. His writings on democratic struggles in Latin America appear regularly online at his Antimperialistia site.


Recent news reports and commentaries, from progressive and mainstream media,
on life and struggles on both sides of the US-México border


In México, President López Obrador’s Morena party wins 4 of 6 governorships, Associated Press. The win appears to indicate that Morena is shoring up its strength heading into the 2024 presidential election.


Gabriel Thompson, A Photojournalist’s Lens on ‘More Than a Wall,’ Capital & Main. David Bacon has spent three decades capturing the experiences of laborers, their treatment, and where they came from, with a particular focus on California and the U.S.-México border.


Rafael Croda, La cumbre de la bofetada simbólica a EU, Proceso. Especialistas latinoamericanos en relaciones hemisférica destacan la falta de instrumentos de la administración del presidente Joe Biden para replantear las relaciones con América Latina y construir una nueva agenda de cooperación y entendimiento entre las partes.


John Ackerman, La segunda etapa de la Cuarta Transformación, La Jornada. El aniquilamiento de los rivales electorales de Morena implicaría la consolidación definitiva de la primera etapa de la Cuarta Transformación de la República.


David Shepardson, US says GM Mexican plant workers' vote shows bargaining benefits, Reuters. Trade Representative Katherine Tai says the vote by General Motors workers at a pickup truck plant in central México to approve a new contract demonstrates the significant benefits of true collective bargaining.


Jessica Xantomila, Asistencia a la cumbre depende de EU: Ebrard, La Jornada. Explicó que no es un tema ideológico, “si estás en favor de un país o de otro, sino que nunca en las cumbres se ha aceptado que un país diga ‘tú no’”.


Mexican judge suspends bullfights in world’s largest ring, AFP. A Mexican judge has ordered a suspension of bullfighting in México City’s Plaza de Toros. A handful of México’s 32 states have so far banned the practice.


Mark Stevenson, President's party looks to clean up in state races in Mexico, Associated Press. The challenge to Morena comes less from without, than within.


US senators ask Biden for immediate action against AMLO’s ‘anti-business rhetoric,’ Yucatan Times. The senators oppose what they call “the recent aggression by AMLO “towards US companies with investments and operations in México.”