Click to view the book project: #NOSFALTAN43
On Friday 26 September 2014, dozens of students from the rural school “Raúl Isidro Burgos” of Ayotzinapa (Guerrero, Mexico) went to Iguala to hold a protest against what they considered to be discriminatory hiring and funding practices by the Mexican government that is considered to be discriminating against teachers from rural areas. During the journey they have been intercepted by local police. A conflict broke out and by the end of the night, 6 people, 3 of which were students, had been shot dead, 17 have been wounded and 43 students went missing while they were in custody of Iguala’s police and they where allegedly been handed over to the criminal group Guerreros Unidos and presumably killed. Early the next morning a student’s body was later found with his face skinned and his eyes gouged out.
Founded in 1926 to offer children of farm workers access to education, the rural school “Raúl Isidro Burgos” where the 43 missing students are studying for becoming teachers is an iconic school for elementary rural teachers in Ayotzinapa (Guerrero, Mexico). The school and its students are well known for their activism and for being a bastion of the leftist ideology of the Mexican Revolution in the early 20th century.
They are the most promising pupils of their communities and out of 600 who requested to be admitted in the school, only 140 were accepted, including the 43 that are now missing.
The generation of the first year had 140 pupils.
140 – 43 missing = 97
97 – 3 dead = 94
94 – 2 serious injured in hospitals =92
Of this 92 students more then 67 have already moved back with their families and they will probably never go back to that school.
This events and numbers have been the focus of my recent exhibition in New York, an exhibition about the lack of social justice and the gross human right violations in Mexico that have now been bought to the forefront and world wide. On the night of Sunday December 6 2014, on the closing day of my show, forensic experts confirmed that charred remains found in a river near Iguala were those of one of the disappeared students, Alexander Mora. So now
140 – 42 missing = 98
98 – 4 dead = 94
94 – 2 serious injured in hospitals = 92
After this last event, I’ve decided to keep working specifically on the Ayotzinapa’s case for my 12 hours Mini Many Residency in Mexico City. I’ve spent half part of the day talking on Skype with Sarrita and Ryan about social justice and the over-militarization of local police departments, both in Mexico and the US. We have been analyzing the role of street protests and demonstrations and the different way they can be organized, as well as the role that direct action and activism can play in this framework. We then talked about human rights violations in US, UK, India, Israel, Russia and Mexico.
During the second part of the day I’ve been working in my studio at Flux Factory (New York) on a small book project with portraits of the 43 students desaparecidos. I’ve investigate what the word “desaparecido” means, because it’s not just about missing individuals, it involves the State. According to Wikipedia the forced disappearance “occurs when a person is secretly abducted or imprisoned by a State or political organization or by a third party with the authorization, support, or acquiescence of a State or political organization, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the person’s fate and whereabouts, with the intent of placing the victim outside the protection of the law.” Another interesting definition of the word is coming from the Oxford dictionary that states that it refers to “(Especially in South America), a person who has disappeared, presumed killed by members of the armed services or the police”). Key words in this framework are State, political organization, armed services and the police. As far as I’m concern all this words involve serving a specific community by respecting and protecting human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons. Is that what it’s happening? No. This words become a problem just in societies that are so judgmental, racist and corrupt that don’t have respect for human rights anymore. That’s why people both in the US and in Mexico should stand up for human rights. That’s why #Ayotzinapasomostodos. Because this are global problems and everyone should feel legitimate to stand up against such horrible violations.
Click to view the book project: #NOSFALTAN43