Missing in Mexico

By Maggie Brown

This past September, 43 college students went missing in the Mexican city of Iguala. The abduction and possible massacre allegedly occurred on orders of a local mayor, who has been arrested under suspicion of giving the order for the abduction. Seventy eight others thought to be involved in the tragedy have been arrested as well. Those arrested are majorly composed of corrupt municipal police officers, who are suspected to have handed the unwarranted arrests of the students over to a local gang, Guerreros Unidos.

The gang has an abundance of influence on the local government, and the governor who gave the order for the abduction is known to have ties to members of Guerreros Unidos.

President Enrique Pena Nieto announced a wide range of possible safety measures that could be taken in response to the kidnapping, but it has not been enough to appease the citizens of Mexico. His plan put particular emphasis on stopping corruption at the municipal level, beginning with a proposal to give congress the power to dissolve local institutions with affiliations to organized criminal groups.

The plan also includes promises to reduce human rights violations by the security forces and efforts to combat general corruption, though none of these immediately stand out against the backdrop of a history of similar promises.

Jesús Murillo Karam, the Mexican attorney general, said members of the gang have confessed to killing and burning a large number of young people in a rubbish pit outside of neighboring town Cocula. The identity of the remains that were found in a large pyre of rubber tires and tree branches has yet to be confirmed.

Though the government said on November 7 it looked as though the students had been killed, then incinerated by gangsters working with the police, officials stopped short of confirming their deaths for lack of definitive evidence.

Tens of thousands of Mexicans have taken to the streets to protest the government’s handling of the case of the missing students, and on November 8, protesters in central Mexico City set fire to the door of the National Palace.

Part of Mexican protesters’ infuriation is based on a press conference held on November 7, when after fielding questions about the case for less than an hour, Jesús Murillo Karam, attorney general, said, “Ya me canse.” or, “Enough, I’m tired.”

Overnight, this became a viral internet trend, and many are using the “Ya me canse” hashtag to express their frustration with Mexico’s politicians. People have written messages expressing their tiredness with their corrupt representatives and living in a country driven by drug violence. Manuel Martinez, a spokesman for the families of the students that went missing, said the “YaMeCanse” rallying cry was proof that their demands for answers is gaining strength.

On November 8, protesters burned several cars and trucks outside the governor’s offices in Chilpancingo, the Guerrero capital where demonstrations over the students’ disappearance have already escalated into violence on several occasions. This was followed the next day by the burning of the doors of the presidential palace.

Mexican citizens feel they can no longer deal with the vague answers the Mexican government has been reluctant to give, and the power and influence that organized crime groups have on all levels of their government.