It’s been a year, yet questions remain unanswered and justice fails to be served. It’s been a year now since 43 voices were silenced. The one year anniversary of the night that students went missing from Ayotzinapa was on Sept. 26.
As a third generation Latina and first generation college student, I find it horrifying. With all of the horrific events happening in the United States, trying to grasp what was happening in Mexico only makes me wonder where one can be safe.
I have never visited Mexico. My grandfather and my great-grandma no longer have any reason or desire to visit. They strongly believe it is not the same as they once knew it, and that it is unsafe for me to go. I wasn’t raised knowing much about Mexico because the belief was that in order to succeed, I didn’t need to know much. As I’ve grown older, I’ve begun to teach myself, ask questions and try to strengthen the spark inside me.
43 missing students, that’s what made me more aware.
I remember seeing the hashtag #Ayotzinapa first. I was shocked, but at the same time, didn’t expect anything less. The only difference of this horrific event was that it was in Mexico, not the United States. Yes, Mexico has other issues, like drug wars, poverty and government corruption, but 43 students… 43 students.
I went to the year anniversary vigil in San Francisco on Sept. 26. I stared at the floor of the posters with the 43 students‘ faces and thought, “This could have been my friends, this could have been my cousins, this could have been ME.”
There were not many people at the vigil. It shocked me how some people did not seem to know about something that had strongly affected me and others. One woman passing by asked what Ayotzinapa meant. Another man walked by and told his accompanying friend, ” That’s horrible, I didn’t even know that happened.”
It pains me to know that I could have been born in Mexico, could have been denied an education, could have been denied a chance of success, and even if I beat the odds, could have had my whole presence erased. 43 lives have been erased and their memories have been left like eraser shavings being blown off your desk.
What’s giving me hope now though, what encourages me to continue to pave a path for my younger brothers to work towards their future, are the people who are still demanding justice. Not everyone has given up. The people holding vigils, participating in demonstrations and keeping the 43 students in their thoughts and prayers, they are the ones giving me hope. I want to see justice and change come from the disappearance of their lives. I want to see recognition of the value of a person and the freedom to fight for what you believe in.
43 days, weeks, or years from now, I want to know that I helped fight and bring justice. I want to know that people’s lives who have been lost will not go in vain. I’m not talking about just Mexico, but the rest of the world. For now, the 43 students from Ayotzinapa have brought me closer to my heritage and motivation for social justice.