Mexican Violence Touches Home in Boston
BOSTON - A gruesome kidnapping in Mexico in late September is causing a ripple of outrage worldwide. In Boston, local protesters are using the disappearance of 43 students as an opportunity to call for the US government to stop funding the drug war in that country. Supporters rallied during a day of action for peace Wednesday at the Federal Building and plan to continue mobilizing.
The missing students were from the southern state of Guerrero and studied at a rural teachers college in Ayotzinapa. They were ambushed in nearby Iguala on their way to a protest. Several students were gunned down by police and 43 others were loaded into vehicles and handed off to members of a local drug trafficking organization, according to an official investigation. While investigators maintain they were burned alive and buried, families of the missing 43 students are pushing for forensic evidence. Until then, they and their allies around the world demand the students be returned alive.
In Boston, one more demand was added to the list: an end to US funding of the Merida Initiative, which is a US-Mexico partnership to “fight organized crime and associated violence.”
“It’s totally a correlation that all the weapons are coming from the US,” said Sandra Harris, a key organizer of several Boston actions that have taken place since the Sept. 26 attack. “The money that pays for the bullets and all the different supplies for the war are from the US.”
A group of Boston activists will meet for a round table from noon to 3 p.m., Dec. 7 at the enucentro 5 movement space in downtown Boston. The event will review the situation in Mexico, the Merida Initiative and the need to fight to keep US taxpayers’ money away from the drug war in Mexico.
Harris, who grew up in Mexico City, said the violence narrative in Mexico is often that civilians are collateral damage while the police fight the drug war against traffickers and gangs.
“In this case, it was not even that situation,” Harris said. “This was a targeted action against these students.”
The investigation into what happened to the Ayotzinapa students has implicated the mayor of Iguala and his wife along with a host of public officials locally and nationally. The very clear cooperation between local police and the gang is one reason why this case has sparked major mobilizations throughout Mexico, the United States and the rest of the world. National organizers of the Dec. 3 day of action originally wanted 43 US cities to host protests, in a nod to the 43 missing students. After just a few days of planning, there were at least 46.
In some cases, protesters in Mexico have been violently repressed, and there is a fear that if the international community looks away, their lives may be in danger. Harris said demonstrations around the world, including places like Palestine, where residents are dealing with their own state-sponsored violence, show incredible solidarity.
“It’s very important to see that Mexico is not alone here and we have not just one voice but multiple voices that can actually start asking for justice,” Harris said.