Acapulco is locked into our memory bank as that place where the Pacific violently crashes into the land. It takes us back to a special time. On weekends, we sat in front of our pre plasma TV’s with our dads watching with amazement as cliff divers propelled themselves into the ocean on Wide World of Sports.
That image, that used to be a source of pride for Mexicans, is being replaced. In fact, the state of Guerrero is now known for something else, something horribly wicked and frightening. The region now makes headlines worldwide for unimaginable violence. Envision this: One night, 43 college students are murdered or taken hostage and we can’t find them. Well, guess what? In Guerrero it’s for real, and it gets worse — much worse!
Most U.S. politicians, who normally flaunt or exploit every Isis advance and act of violence, have yet to even mention or possibly even notice the disappearance of the 43 students in Mexico.
Earlier this month, local police in the town of Iguala ambushed 43 students who were planning a protest against the very system that brought about their deaths and disappearance. The accusations read much like a Spanish soap opera or telenovela. Reportedly, it involves a crooked chief of police, a corrupt mayor and a woman whose Shakespearean-like manipulative skills may trump those of Lady Macbeth.
On the day of the ambush, the students from a nearby teacher’s college were on their way to stage a protest. When Mayor Jose Luis Abarca and his wife learned of the protest, they made a phone call. Fearing the protest would disrupt the event she was planning, she demanded her husband call the police chief to tell him to stop the students at all cost. What followed for the students seems like pure hell.
Police used barricades to block the highway that leads into the city. They shot and killed at least one student while firing on the others as the students' vehicles pulled into the town of Iguala. So what happened to the rest of the students? Did they detain them? Did they warn them?
According to witnesses, police pulled the injured students out of their vehicles and turned them over to the cartel. The gang in the region, the “united warriors,” has long established ties to the police department. They do the cop’s dirty work. So much so, that while federal officials have been searching for the missing students they’ve already found 28 other bodies in shallow graves. Who are they? No one yet knows. But surely, the gangs who work for the cartels brought about their deaths.
As for the 43 missing students, witnesses now say they were marched into the woods bleeding and injured. There, they were huddled together while gasoline was poured on them and they were burned like firewood, but still their bodies have not been found.
Meanwhile, angry protesters demanding answers have burned down Iguala city hall. The missing students' families demand answers. The mayor and his wife have disappeared along with the chief of police. The governor has resigned. And federal authorities have taken over control of 13 cities.
Even Mexico’s president is finally being forced to address the missing student story with what appears like nothing more than empty rhetoric. "Violence, whatever its origin, goes against what we are as a country. Violence will never be a solution or pave the way toward a better future," President Enrique Peña Nieto said.
The comment seems late in coming, and weak. Still, it beats the reaction from across the border. Most U.S. politicians, who normally flaunt or exploit every Isis advance and act of violence, have yet to even mention or possibly even notice the disappearance of the 43 students in Mexico.
“We spend all our time reacting to violence in the middle east, but what about the violence just south of our own border,’’ asks poet and actress Magly Bello.
“As far as the U.S. government goes, no matter who’s in the White House,” adds Miami journalist Nelson Rubio. “We just don’t matter, and we never will.”