04/19/15 — The family members of the 43 Normalista students that disappeared in September 2014 from Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, are currently touring the United States in an effort to raise awareness about their ongoing fight to demand answers from the Mexican government and hold accountable those responsible. Appropriately named, Caravana 43 is stopping in 43 U.S. cities to discuss the human rights violations committed by local police and the Iguala-based cartel Guerreros Unidos. The families are conveying their grievances and demands for reform to Mexican and U.S. institutions, international organizations, Plan Mérida, and the U.S. Latino/Latina community, as well as calls for increased U.S. funding to fight drug trafficking and organized crime in Mexico. According to investigators, the young Normalista students were murdered and incinerated in a dumpster. However, their family members continue to seek alternative answers regarding the whereabouts of their children, as only one student’s remains have been discovered.
Caravana 43 launched on March 16 from three different starting points in Texas—San Antonio, McAllen, and El Paso—splitting into three routes to canvas the United States, including a stop in San Diego on March 23. A Justice in Mexico Intern spoke with Caravana 43 organizer Luis López Resendiz at the San Diego demonstration. López Resendiz, who sits on the Caravana’s Media and Communications Committee, emphasized the importance of the Caravan’s protests and demonstrations, stating, “No student should become a criminal for developing a critical mind. I just hope one day we don’t fight for justice; I hope one day to win every single fight [so we can] live in paz (peace).”
Meanwhile, in an interview with Mexican media news source Univisión, Former Mexican President Vicente Fox addressed the Normalista parents: “You cannot live forever with this problem on your minds, life goes on. It’s a good thing that you care so much for your children, it’s good that you miss them and [that you] are in mourning, but you have to accept reality. The country has to keep walking.” Fox’s comment drew fire, however, from Andres Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), an outspoken politician, former presidential contender, and leader of the National Regeneration Movement (Movimiento Regeneración Nacional, Morena). AMLO called the statements “disrespectful to the students,” and called Fox’s political allegiances and motives into question, saying that Fox “never had convictions for the people of Mexico.”
The three caravan routes will reconvene in New York City in late April, and from there continue abroad to seek the support of other nations in Europe to advocate for the return of the missing students. They plan to first stop in Oslo, Norway, where they’ll visit the University of Innsbruck. That university was involved in the investigation and analysis of human remains found in Cocula, Guerroro thought to be the students. The results, however, turned out negative. Caravana 43 then plans to tour Switzerland, Finland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Holland, and England, where they will organize rallies in front of embassies and consulates of the European nations. They also plan to meet with human rights and student organizations to seek solidarity for their cause.
Luis López Resendiz, who will be traveling to New York on April 23 to meet up with the rest of the Caravana 43, recognizes the importance of continuing the dialogue, not just in Mexico. “In order for us to continue the discussion of Ayotzinapa, we have to go beyond borders, just as the Caravana 43 did,” he said. “If we are able to cross those invisible borders that were built systematically without notice, then we will bring awareness to a bigger community—to all of the pueblo (people).”