We begin with a musical report from Fusion:
Mexican musicians release protest anthem for missing Ayotzinapa students
The tragedy of 43 disappeared students in Mexico now has a soundtrack. Mexican musician Juan Jose Rodriguez channeled his outrage into creativity and activism by reaching out to friends on social media and organizing a group of 25 musicians to record the protest song “Grito de Guerra,” or “Battle Cry.”
The lyrics allude to Mexico’s national anthem, while criticizing the government for impunity and violence.
“I have listened to this song alone while mixing in the studio, and I have cried from outage, and it hurts,” Rodriguez said. “We hope that the people who listen feel the pain, and that we’ve passed along that feeling of rage.”
He said he hopes the song will “drive people to action.”
The track will be available on iTunes and proceeds will go the families of the missing students, according to Rodriguez.
And a VICE News video focusing on survivors of the attack that ended with the abduction of the missing 43:
The Missing 43: Mexico’s Disappeared Students (Part 1)
On September 26, teaching students from the Ayotzinapa Normal School in Mexico were intercepted by police forces en route to a protest in Iguala. In the ensuing clash, six people were killed, and 43 Ayotzinapa students were taken away by the police. Investigations over the following weeks led to the startling allegations that the police had acted at the behest of the local mayor, and had turned over the abducted students to members of the Guerreros Unidos cartel. All 43 students are now feared dead.
The case has come to represent the negative feeling of the Mexican public toward the state of justice and the rule of law in Mexico. The events have now galvanized the survivors of the attack and the disappeared students’ parents. Nationwide demonstrations have increased in intensity, and recently led to government buildings in the state of Guerrero to be set on fire.
In this episode, VICE News travels to Guerrero, ground-zero for the protest movement that has erupted since the disappearance of the students, and meets with survivors of the Iguala police attack.
From the Latin American Herald Tribune, another kind of turning point:
Mexico Missing Students’ Case Marks Milestone in Web-Based Social Activism
Few had even heard of the small southern Mexican town of Ayotzinapa two months ago but that has changed in the wake of the apparent massacre of 43 students from a rural teacher training college, a tragedy that has caught the attention of tens of millions of people on social networks.
A specialist in social networking Web sites who has analyzed the global repercussions of the events of Sept. 26 in the nearby town of Iguala, Guerrero state, says that roughly 60 million people in countries around the world have posted, read or shared messages about the missing students.
“Since I began monitoring the networks in 2011 (the case of the Ayotzinapa Rural Normal School students) has been the most significant” in terms of volume of related comments and messages, Javier Murillo said.
And from the Guardian, the first of a series of reports on Thursday’s massive protest in Mexico City:
Mexico on the brink: thousands to protest over widespread corruption and student massacre
- Violence and breakdown of law and order threaten to destabilise country after mass murder of students and scandal over presidential home
Mexico is facing an escalating political crisis amid growing fury over a mansion built for the presidential family and the disappearance and probable massacre of 43 student teachers.
The two apparently unrelated issues have fed the widespread perception that unbridled political corruption is the underlying cause of the country’s many problems – ranging from stunted economic growth to a breakdown of law and order that has left parts of the country at the mercy of murderous drug cartels.
“The drama of Mexico is about impunity,” said leading political commentator Jesús Silva Herzog. “This is not about the popularity or unpopularity of the president, that is irrelevant. It is about credibility and trust and, at its root, it is about legitimacy.”
Thousands gathered in Mexico City on Thursday ahead of what was expected to be the largest demonstration so far over the students’ forced disappearance by municipal police in collusion with a local drug gang in the southern city of Iguala.
More from Al Jazeera English:
Clashes in Mexico protest over students
- Protesters clash with riot police in Mexico City amid anger over 43 missing students believed to have been killed
Protesters have clashed with riot police near Mexico City’s international police at the start of another day of demonstrations as the country bristled with anger over the presumed massacre of 43 students.
Masked protesters burned tyres, threw firebombs and launched firecrackers at police on Thursday, who used tear gas to disperse the group.
The clashes came after hundreds of protesters blocked the main road to the Benito Juarez airport for an hour, while police patrol cars assisted travellers to reach the airport.
The city braced for a bigger rally later in the day, cancelling the annual parade celebrating the 1910 revolution and erecting metal barriers to protect shops.
And an update, from the Washington Post:
Angry Mexicans protest over 43 missing students
The march in Mexico City was overwhelmingly peaceful, in contrast to recent protests that have ended with the burning of government buildings in Guerrero state, where the students disappeared. Whenever masked protesters tried to join Thursday’s march, demonstrators shouted them down with chants of “No violence!” and “Off with the masks!”
The protesters converged on the city’s main square, where families of the missing students stood on a platform in front of the National Palace holding posters of their relatives’ faces. Amid chants for President Enrique Pena Nieto to step down, family members repeated that they do not believe the government’s account that the youths were killed by a drug gang, .
“We’re not tired,” said one man speaking from the platform. “On the contrary, we are mad with this Mexican government and its entire structure, because it has not done anything but deceive the families.”
Earlier in the day, about 200 youthful protesters, some with their faces covered by masks or bandannas, clashed with police as they tried to block a main expressway to the international airport. Protesters hurled rocks, fireworks and gasoline bombs at the police, at least one of whom was hit by the projectiles. Some passengers had to walk to the terminal, but flights were not interrupted and expressways were reopened.
Next, a video report on Thursday’s activities from teleSUR:
Day of massive protests in Mexico on ‘Revolution Day’ holiday
Today, on the 104th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution, instead of the usual military parade and other traditional patriotic festivities in Mexico City’s central Zocalo square, another kind of revolution was taking place. Three massive demonstrations protesting against the Mexican governnment and its resonsibility in the case of the kidnapping of 43 young teaching shcool students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teacher Training College.
Context from Al Jazeera America:
The rebel spirit driving Mexico’s protests has deep roots
- Analysis: Outrage over case of 43 missing students has helped unleash widespread discontent with a deep historical echo
Three caravans, led by family members of 43 missing students, began winding their way toward Mexico City last week from Guerrero, Chiapas and Chihuahua. On Thursday they will converge in the capital, where they will join student groups, teachers and rights advocates in a megamarch for justice, culminating at the city’s Zócalo Square — the symbolic heart of Mexico and so often the stage for expressions of popular discontent.
But the caravans’ finish line could also mark a starting point for a new challenge to Mexico’s prevailing social order, of which the 43 students are but the latest victims. And both the venue and the date of Thursday’s rally connect with a deep-rooted revolutionary tradition in Mexico. On the same day, 104 years ago, Francisco Madero, an heir to a powerful family in the state of Coahuila, issued the Plan of San Luis de Potosí denouncing the regime of dictator Porfirio Díaz — and ushering in the Mexican Revolution.
In many ways, today’s uprising mirrors — and is inspired by — that revolt. Although Madero’s insurgency quickly petered out, leaving him to seek refuge in Texas, his rallying cry resonated with the frustrations of peasant workers and indigenous communities throughout Mexico, and it was their determination to fight for their rights that fueled the revolution for years. It is the descendants of those foot soldiers of the revolution who are the parents and classmates of the missing students and are leading what could be the largest uprising in Mexico in decades. Thursday’s protest is no longer simply a cry for justice for the 43 missing students. A swath of Mexican society is demanding the ouster of President Enrique Peña Nieto over his administration’s incompetent investigation into the student disappearances and its efforts to portray the crime as an isolated incident.
More background, via Der Spiegel:
Teeth and Bones: Mass Abduction Reveals a Decaying Mexican State
Most murders don’t even make the front page in Mexico anymore. But the recent abduction of 43 students has infuriated the country. The story has exposed the tight relationship between politics, law enforcement and organized crime. And it shows how weak the state has become.
The group that stealthily tightened its grip on power in Iguala and the rest of the state in recent years is called Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors). It is one of more than 100 splinter groups that have formed across the country in the wake of the dismantling of the large cartels. Increasingly, they have turned to kidnappings and protection money as a way of generating revenue.
From the perspective of drug bosses, Iguala is a place of strategic importance. The city is nestled in the hilly hinterlands away from the Pacific coast, but it sits astride an important transportation route for cocaine. It is also a growing commercial center offering plenty of opportunities for money laundering. All one needs to carry out important transactions is control over the security apparatus and a close relationship with city hall.
Guerreros Unidos sought to make that relationship as close as possible and simply put up its own candidate in mayoral elections.
His name was José Luis Abarca, a married man whose wife’s brothers were high-ranking members of Guerreros Unidos and fixtures on the government’s most-wanted list — before they died in a hail of bullets. Abarca’s mother-in-law is thought to have been a bookkeeper for Beltrán Leyva, the large cartel that was dismantled in 2011 and which ultimately gave rise to Guerreros Unidos.
Still more context, via the Christian Science Monitor:
As protests rage, what can Mexico do to stop more students from going missing?
Nearly two months have passed since 43 college students disappeared in Iguala. As Mexico looks to improve security in Guerrero, it could look north to cities and states along the US border that have seen marked success in cracking down on violence
Nearly two months have passed since the students disappeared in Iguala, last seen in the hands of local police, who confessed to turning them over to drug gangs. Yet outrage and protests in Mexico are growing: both over the ties between organized crime and local politicians nationwide, and the weak and disorganized federal response to the suspected massacre.
Progress in reforming Mexico’s police force and strengthening the judiciary has been starkly absent in states like Guerrero. Yet some cities and states closer to the US border – Tijuana, Nuevo Leon, and Ciudad Juarez – have seen marked security improvements over the past three years. While the results have not eliminated the presence of organized crime, violence has diminished in these areas, providing some guidance as the country looks for longer-term and broader solutions.
“What everyone wants the government to do is to make sure that its security and justice systems are fair and safe,” says Duncan Wood, director of the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center for International Scholars, a Washington-based think tank. “No one expects things to be fixed overnight but [the government] needs to show progress on its justice reform, police reform, and the transparency of its institutions.”
The Latin American Herald Tribune covers presidential disclosure:
Mexican President Reveals Personal Assets after Mansion Controversy
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has made public his personal assets, which includes income, properties and investments, in response to the controversy surrounding a luxurious mansion owned by his wife.
A declaration on the presidential website, dated May 14, 2014, reports an annual income from his government employment of 2.9 million pesos ($214,000).
It also reports an income of 211,350 pesos ($15,530) from financial activities and 249,982 pesos ($18,367) from other sources, amounting to a total of 3.4 million pesos (about $248,000) per year.
Peña Nieto also owns four homes, with the largest one having an area of 2,138 square meters (23,013 square feet), an apartment and four plots, one of them with a surface area of 58,657 square meters (631,379 square feet).
The declaration includes other assets such as works of art, jewelry and furniture worth about 7 million pesos (about $514,000), and several investments, including coins and metallic objects, worth 16.8 million pesos ($1.2 million).
Solidarity, via teleSUR English:
Bolivians march in solidarity with Mexico’s Ayotzinapa 43
Students and teachers from the San Andres University in La Paz, Bolivia today marched and demonstrated in Solidarity with Mexico’s 43 Ayotzinapa teaching college students who were kidnapped by corrupt police in late September, never to be seen again. In a gruesome reminder of the confession made by criminal gang members arrested for the crime who claim to have killed and burned the students, before placing them in plastic bags and tossing them into a river, some demonstrators enclosed themselves in plastic bags, creating a very vivid performance image for the protest.
California solidarity, from the Orange County Register:
Protesters in Santa Ana march for missing students in Mexico
- More than 100 gather in solidarity with activists south of the border
Peaceful protesters on Thursday – the day that marks the anniversary of the Mexican Revolution – gathered at Cabrillo Park. They carried signs reading “Your pain is our pain” and marched to the Mexican Consulate on Fourth Street.
Many demonstrators were young Orange County residents with roots in Mexico. Others talked about immigrating here from Mexico decades ago.
“We are tired. That’s why we come here from our countries. We come here because of the situation back home. … It’s the reality,” said David Rodriguez, 55, a Huntington Beach resident from Michoacan, Mexico.
“My kids, they feel like Mexico is their country, too, and they say, ‘How can a nation be in that state?’” Rodriguez said.
And from teleSUR English, Mexico as a failed security state:
Interviews from Mexico – Public Security
Interviews from Mexico, hosted by Laura Carlsen, goes straight to the source — the men and women making news and making history in Mexico and throughout the region. Today’s program focus is on the ever-present and increasingly important problem of public security in Mexico. Carlsen interviews John Bailey, emeritus professor at Georgetown University in Governance and Foreign Service and author of the recently published book “The Politics of Crime in Mexico: Democratic Governance in a Security Trap.”