Ayotzinapa student visits campus, caravans through country

Omar Vasquez Arrellano (above middle) is a survivor of the mass-kidnapping that occured in Guerrero Mexico on September 26, 2014. Veronica Cardona (above right) is a student who hosted Arrellano during his visit to San Antonio, and who volunteered to transport him to other United States cities for the Ayotzinapa caravan, featuring other student survivors and parents of the 43 students kidnapped.  Photo by Astrid Villegas
Omar Vasquez Arrellano (above middle) is a survivor of the mass-kidnapping that occured in Guerrero Mexico on September 26, 2014. Veronica Cardona (above right) is a student who hosted Arrellano during his visit to San Antonio, and who volunteered to transport him to other United States cities for the Ayotzinapa caravan, featuring other student survivors and parents of the 43 students kidnapped. Photo by Astrid Villegas

By Rafael Ilano and Angelica Casas

Last year, Mexico experienced a tragedy that has left many unanswered questions and 43 students missing.

On September 26, a bus carrying normalist students from a teacher’s college from Iguala in the state of Guerrero, Mexico, was stopped by the local police. The students were on their way to protest for education reforms. A confrontation erupted between the police and the students, leaving six dead at the scene. Forty-three of the students were taken by the officers and have not been seen since.

Some of the parents and student survivors of the kidnapping are currently traveling, through 40 United States cities to speak of the students’ disappearance and the violence and corruption that has led to tens of thousands of other disappearances and murders in Mexico. The caravan stopped at OLLU on March 17, where student Omar Vasquez Arrellano, witness and survivor of the mass kidnapping, spoke.

“They are 43 families and behind those 43, there are thousands that have remained silent or that the government has silenced,” Arrellano said in Spanish. “If they were only 43, we would be quiet, but they are thousands and this is something that occurs daily in Mexico.”

Veronica Cardona, a student and host of Arrellano and another of the student’s mother, said the purpose of the “platica” was to bring awareness.

“The parents have received anonymous messages that [their children] are still alive,” Cardona said. “They were taken alive, and we want them back alive.”

On February 26, a group of Our Lady of the Lake University students held a “die-in” demonstration in the Mall Area in observance of the five-month anniversary of the disappearance of the Ayotzinapa students. Gianna Rendon, a social work major and an organizer of the event, led the demonstration.

For five minutes, one minute dedicated to each month, participants lay on the floor. As the participants arose, they read the names of some of the disappeared students.

“I was happy to see professors and students involved in the planning and event,” Cardona said. “They were students, therefore I hope to see more students in solidarity throughout our university and other universities as well.”

While in San Antonio, the caravan with Arrellano also stopped at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, and Trinity University.

Before and after the arrival of the caravan, the local Ayotzinapa movement held peaceful vigils in front of the Mexican Consulate to motivate the country to take action on the issue.

“I don’t want to go another month without the return of the 43 alive,” Cardona said.

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