Families of Mexico's 43 missing students turn to Chicago's immigrants for help

The families of 43 students from Ayotzinapa College who went missing in Guerrero state asked Chicago's Mexican immigrant community Saturday to help them get reliable proof about what happened to those young people.

Three members of the so-called Caravan 43 that is visiting the United States told a press conference that their aim is show the falsehood of the government's story, which says the students' bodies were burned in a dump and that some of the remains were buried in a common grave or thrown in a river.

"We're desperate and indignant about not being able to find them, and also about the government claiming the students belonged to organized crime," said Maria de Jesus Tlatempa Bello, mother of one of the missing youths.

"It's a lie because we feel they're alive and because we know that federal police and military took part in their disappearance," she said.

At a press conference in the Diversity & Social Justice Education Center at the University of Illinois in Chicago, the student Omar Vazquez Arellano, who survived the attack of municipal cops against the Ayotzinapa group last Sept. 26, said he witnessed his friends being taken away by police officers and reported it to the appropriate authorities, "but nothing we saw that night has been taken into account in the investigations."

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Caravan 43 is divided into three groups that are touring cities in the East, West and Midwest of the United States

Besides seeking justice and calling on the Mexican government to accept its responsibility in the matter, the parents ask the United States to suspend its funding for the Mexican army through the Merida Initiative because of its suspected complicity in human rights violations.

In Chicago, the delegation had planned to march Saturday afternoon through the Latino neighborhood of Pilsen, visit local churches on Sunday and stage a protest Monday in front of the Mexican consulate.

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