Survivor of Mexican student tragedy visits Evanston

Isha Bhutada, Reporter

On Sept. 26, 2014, 43 male students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College in Guerrero, Mexico, were attacked and kidnapped by government forces.

More than a year later, the students remain missing. On Nov. 20, about 25 Evanston residents gathered at the Civic Center to discuss the ramifications of what happened before, during and after the forced disappearances. The Justice in Ayotzinapa Committee Chicago hosted a Q&A session with survivor Omar Garcia, who was a first-year student at Ayotzinapa during the time of the attack.

The brief discussion was followed by Occupy Evanston documentary film group’s presentation of “Ayotzinapa: Chronicle of a State Crime,” a documentary directed by Mexican filmmaker Xavier Robles.

“We do a different documentary every month,” event organizer Tina Stevenson said. “People in the group are activists in many different areas.”

For Garcia, Evanston is one of the many cities where he can share his story and his hope of someday finding his peers.

“We’ve gone all over the world with this movie. Not just the students are involved but the parents as well,” Garcia said. “We are still fighting to find them.”

Robles’ documentary begins by addressing the history of brutality and repression in the state of Guerrero. The film turns to the testimony and commentary of Garcia, eyewitnesses and experts to reconstruct the climate of corruption and criminality that exists in all of Mexico.

“Our politicians aren’t interested in solving the problems that we face,” Garcia said. “In Mexico, it isn’t just 43 people who have disappeared. It is 26,000. It isn’t just three who have been killed, but 150,000 over the course of 10 years.”

The documentary shows how inefficiency in the Mexican government has resulted in thousands of young voices demanding justice for the missing students.

“It deepened my knowledge,” Glenbrook South High School teacher and Evanston resident Emily Ekstrand Nieves said. “I’m both furious and scared, but this could be an awakening moment for Mexico, which gives me a grain of hope.”

Garcia and the Justice in Ayotzinapa Committee Chicago hope that by spreading their story across the United States, they will be able to garner support for enforced social justice in Mexico.

“We are with anyone who is oppressed,” Garcia said. “We just want to live … and to live in peace.”

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