The mother speaks of her child, one of 43 disappeared students, in the present tense.
She has to believe he is alive. Her companion at a press conference Tuesday, a student who says he managed to escape the mass kidnapping in the poor southern state of Guerrero, Mexico, does the same.
Reason likely tells them otherwise. Purpose keeps their words in check.
After all, the students of the rural teachers’ college were reportedly herded into trucks by police in late September and driven away. Six students died in the violence that day. No one has heard from the others since. A mass grave of burned human remains was found, but DNA testing matched only one of the missing students.
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The funeral pyre was of other dead people. This is Mexico. A country entrapped by corruption so endemic that discovery of a mass grave alarms, but also answers — possibly other cases of people who suddenly went missing.
Some believe the students were handed over to a drug gang, Guerreros Unidos, specializing in heroin and marijuana bound for the U.S. drug market. The students of this school had long been known for their leftist activism, for pushing the Mexican government for reforms.
There have been arrests, including some police and politicians, but no convictions. Still, Mexican authorities have called the case closed.
The mother and student are pleading their story this week in Kansas City. They are part of caravans stopping in U.S. cities, headed to meetings with international human rights organizations in Washington and New York.
It’s all they can do. Keep pressing so that people become outraged. American’s insatiable thirst for illicit drugs lays the groundwork for violence in Mexico. Americans must pressure Congress to quit putting trade negotiations with Mexico ahead of concern for the country’s human rights violations.
Because in Mexico, the grieving are just expected to forget.
Former Mexican President Vicente Fox said as much last week. A San Antonio correspondent for Univision asked about the caravans. “It’s good that they miss them, and cry so much for them, but now they need to accept reality,” Fox said. “They can’t live forever with this problem in their heads.”
What a warped view of justice. So the insistence on having the students returned alive is a defiance, as well as a slogan.
Los queremos vivos. We want them alive.