Last week saw a 72-hour student strike in Mexico in protest of the disappearances of 43 student teachers from Iguala, in the southwestern Mexican state of Guerrero. The strike was accompanied by solidarity actions across the world, including here in Montreal. The students, who attended the Ayotzinapa Normal School, a rural teaching school, disappeared over a month ago after being attacked by the police. Since then, there have been ongoing student protests in Mexico and around the world calling for justice. It is crucial as students that we stand in solidarity with Mexican students and their allies who are protesting abroad.
The Ayotzinapa students disappeared in early September after a protest action in which they were attacked by local police. The crime was not perpetrated solely by the police: it is suspected that the police handed the students off to a local crime organization after being ordered to do so by the mayor of Iguala’s wife. The incident is the most recent, and the most visible, in a long line of killings and disappearances in Mexico’s drug war. The drug war is multidimensional, not only implicating organized crime and cartels. Police and army forces, as well as corrupt politicians, have been involved in human rights abuses across the board; in the meantime, nearly 70,000 people have perished. This situation is only compounded by the U.S.’s push for continued militarized violence in Mexico.
Students in Mexico have been protesting in solidarity with their disappeared comrades, holding strike after strike in a pushback against this corrupt, complex system of violence, and bringing international attention to the failed drug war and the Mexican state’s complicity in it. The importance of student action is not to be overlooked: student movements have a unique ability to cross borders, create awareness, and build strong solidarity movements. They also demonstrate the importance of building and maintaining memory as a tool to counteract state violence. Activism should not stop at borders; solidarity should be global.
To stand in solidarity with the Mexican student movement, then, is a necessity. In doing so, we must also recognize the northern complicity fueling the violence that culminated in the disappearances of the students in Iguala. While some may think that only the U.S. is involved in the drug war, Canada has been expanding its “tough on crime” policies internationally, providing aid and military resources in Central America to fight the cartels. Recognizing that our government plays a direct role in perpetuating the violence forces us to express our discontent, rather than remaining complicit in the violence. But recognition is only a first step: solidarity involves protesting, lobbying, and actively fighting against the violence perpetuated by the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Students at McGill and in Canada should not only march for their own demands, but in solidarity with their fellow students overseas.
—The McGill Daily Editorial Board