Parents of the “Ayotzinapa 43” Missing Students Headline Public Forum in San Francisco on their Search for Justice
The Radio Bilingüe Network, KPOO FM San Francisco, and Rompeviento TV will convene and broadcast/webcast a town hall meeting to hear the first-hand gripping story of parents of the 43 missing students from Mexico’s Ayotzinapa Rural University, an act of mass disappearance at the hands of police that’s being called the worst atrocity in Mexico in years.
Stopping in San Francisco on a tour through Pacific Coast cities, the group including two parents, one surviving student and his brother, and a professor from Ayotzinapa will meet with the community on Saturday April 4th from 4 to 6 PM PDT in the auditorium of Buena Vista Horace Mann School, 3351 23rd Street in San Francisco’s Mission District.
The Ayotzinapa visitors include Blanca Luz Nava Vélez, mother of a disappeared student; Estanislao Mendoza Chocolate, father of a disappeared student; Angel Neri de la Cruz Ayala, student and survivor of the attacks; Josimar de la Cruz Ayala, activist and brother of survivor; and Cruz Bautista Salvador, professor at the college.
The stop in San Francisco is part of a national U.S. caravan (#Caravan43, Caravan43.com) targeting three regions and culminating in Washington, DC to bring the faces of this state-sanctioned human rights atrocity before U.S. witnesses six months after the mass disappearance.
Media partners for the town hall meeting and broadcast include Hecho en California 1010 AM in San Francisco; KPFA 94.1 FM in Berkeley, and KBBF 89.1 FM in Santa Rosa. They will provide a live broadcast service for the San Francisco Bay Area.
A number of community groups are joining the forum as co-sponsors. They include United Educators of San Francisco.
The Radio Bilingüe Latino Public Radio Network will provide a live national broadcast as well as audio streaming (radiobilingue.org); public radio station KPOO 89.5 FM will air the forum live for San Francisco Bay Area audiences and webcast it on kpoo.com; and Rompeviento TV, an online TV platform based in Mexico City, will stream video live on rompeviento.tv.
Escuela Normal Rural de Ayotzinapa Raul Isidro Burgos – Ayotzinapa Rural Teacher-Training College
The Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College, like many rural teacher-training colleges around Mexico, was created in the 1930s as part of a social program of public education launched by progressive President Lazaro Cárdenas. The college provides higher education to extremely low-income students, most of them from peasant and indigenous families. These colleges have a tradition of political activism and radicalism, and, as a consequence, they have been the targets of brutal crackdowns from the government in the past. In 2011, two students from Ayotzinapa were killed by police. Last September 26-27, while engaging in acts of political protest, a group of Ayotzinapa students were attacked by local police officers. As a result, three students were killed and 43 were rounded up, detained, and eventually disappeared while in police custody.
Members of the “Ayotzinapa 43” Caravan to be in San Francisco April 4, 2015
Blanca Luz Nava Velez
Mother of Jorge Álvarez Nava who Disappeared September 26-27, 2014
Farm worker mother of two children.
“I miss my son very much. He used to sing to me and we were very close. He used to like music and was always by my side because he was the type that got sick a lot. I miss my home, my children, my grandson – he is already a big boy.”
Estanislao Mendoza Chocolate
Father of Miguel Angel Mendoza Zechariah who Disappeared September 26-27, 2014
“I am a father of a young man who is missing and who I am looking for along with other parents in the group. I am here because it is necessary to keep looking for my son, as for all the other students. I don’t think anyone would like to be in this position. It is not our choice. The Government has taken away our children from us. I know the Government doesn’t like what we’re doing, but we will do whatever is necessary.
Before this happened I knew nothing about protesting. I was happy in the fields, just working. Now during the last few months, I have abandoned my house, my children, hoping to find the one who is missing.
I want to find him to reunite with the rest so things can be as before, although I think that nothing will be the same. Because after this, I do not think that the Government will leave us in peace. Other issues will come up and that’s what I fear — that when this is over, the Government will come by and take us one by one. The fear is what will happen then? Who can guarantee my safety? Where will I go? Can I go live in another city? I would not leave my people, leave all behind, my family. That is the fear I have once we’re finished with all this.”
Angel Neri de la Cruz Ayala
Surviving witness of the events of September 26-27, 2014 in Iguala, Guerrero when 43 students were forcibly disappeared.
Second year student in the BA program for elementary education in the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teaching College of Ayotzinapa, and chair of the student disciplinary code committee.
“I am originally from Acapulco, Guerrero, and survivor of the events that took place on 26 and 27 September 2014. I am 19 years old. Before looking into the Ayotzinapa teaching college, I wanted to study in the school of Medicine of the University of Guerrero in Acapulco, but my family has serious economic problems, so I decided to enroll in the Ayotzinapa College. Ayotzinapa is very different from other schools. They give you a one-week probation period to be sure you’re really serious.
Before enrolling, my idea was the following: be into academics and get myself into a Rondalla (student music group), since I like to play guitar. But in study and development groups, a concern was born in me to know more. When they put out the call for the activist cause, I joined with 11 of my peers. We had political and social training that consisted of forming committees to visit other rural colleges and social organizations inside and outside the state.
As students in Ayotzinapa, we are called vandals, guerrillas because of our activism for social justice. Some people say we are the worst kind, but those are people who don’t know the conditions in which we live and the reasons for which we strive. Because as long as there is poverty, the Ayotzinapa college will have reason to exist even more.
As a result of the events of September 26-27, we have seen the need to put our college studies on hold.
Josimar de la Cruz Ayala
Activist and brother of survivor
Holds a degree in Sociology of communication and education from the Autonomous University of Guerrero
“I am the oldest of four children. I grew up in an atmosphere of good values, where respect for others is expected as well as the fight for equality. I have always tried to be a good example for my brothers. I have no vices, I don’t smoke, I don’t drink nor use drugs. I am married and the father of an eight-year-old who is my life — she is the reason for me to be in this struggle. I don’t want the present in which I live to be her future. I am currently unemployed. I got fired for being part of this group.”
Cruz Bautista Salvador
Uncle to Benjamín Bautista Salvador, who disappeared September 26-27, 2014.
Certified indigenous preschool teacher in the high school of Tlapa, in the mountains of Guerrero
“We are Natives from a Nahuatl village and we speak our mother tongue. I worked in the fields speaking Nahuatl. I speak in Nahuatl at home with my mom, as we master two languages. My mother did not speak Spanish, but now understands it but finds it difficult to speak.
I am just a common man who like anyone else works for things (in society) to get better. We are 11 brothers in my family. Because of lack of opportunities, I am the only one in the family that was able to attain a career. I know several trades: worked in the rearing of pigs, worked in a glass factory, as a food vendor, and a taxi driver.
I learned dialectal variants in the teaching academy and have learned the variants in each region of the state. The teaching program opened my knowledge in states where Nahuatl is spoken. I consider myself Indian. I’m fluent in the native language. I like to work in the field, experience new things, the culture.
To date I am a teacher. I am a working teacher. I am a preschool educator and a supervisor with no pay. As they say, no one is a prophet in his own land.”