Caravana43 is a project developed with the purpose of bringing to the United States parents and classmates of the 43 Normalista students who disappeared on September 26, 2014 in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico. There are three Caravanas covering over 40 cities from the US/Mexico border along the Pacific, Central, and Atlantic region states. The main aim is to provide an international forum for the parents who have lost their children in a government of systemic violence and impunity.
What does the government say?
The Mexican federal government has said that the mayor of Iguala and his wife ordered the police to repress the students and that they in turn turned them over to a gang called Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors) which killed them and burned their bodies alive. The Mexican Attorney General has declared the case to be closed.The problem is that Mexico has a long history documented by Mexican and foreign human rights organizations, other governments, and international organizations of using torture to extract confessions which are then used to construct narratives to protect criminals,
the police, military officers, government officials, and politicians. Consequently, many people have no faith in the government’s account and have demanded that the investigations continue.
What do the parents, friends, and fellow students of Ayotzinapa want?
The principal demand of the Ayotzinapa solidarity movement has been, “They were taken alive, and alive we want them back.” The other major demand has been for the continued investigation into the killings and kidnappings to continue. At the same time, the solidarity movement which involves many organizations has raised a variety of other demands from the call for the resignation of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to a halt to U.S. military support to Mexico. There has also been a call by Archbishop Raúl Vera for a “constituent congress” for the “refoundation of Mexico.” The movement has become very large and broad and no single organization speaks for it.
Why is the Ayotzinapa Parents’ Caravan coming to the United States?
The Ayotzinapa Parents’ Caravan is coordinated by a national coalition of many groups and organizations intended to create a platform for the parents of the victims of the Ayotzinapa killings and kidnappings that took place on September 26 in Iguala, Mexico. By creating an opportunity for the parents to travel throughout the United States and speak about their experience, we hope to better inform the American public and the news media, and thereby possibly have some impact on both the Mexican and American governments.
We are asking every locality that joins the Caravana to adhere to a basic program that includes providing housing, food, translation, security, a press conference, community meeting a rally, speaking engagements and that your organization contributes to the financing of the Caravana.
These 43 students have become the faces of the many thousands of Mexicans and Central American migrants that have become victims of the rampant violence affecting Mexico and we are providing their parents the means to further their quest for justice.
Caravana43 has become a unifying project not only across the international borderline but for the Latin@ communityies in the United States.
Another important goal of the caravana is to shed light on US foreign policy, specifically the Merida Initiative and its connection to socioeconomic conditions and violence in Mexico.
The caravan has no connection to any political party or other national organization. The caravan is entirely voluntary, raising just enough money to pay for its costs. There are no paid positions. Each group in a particular city will be responsible for organizing the Caravan locally and for raising its own funds to cover general transportation and logistics costs. Each area will provide housing, transportation, translation and accompaniment for the parents. A group of 14 parents, students and advocates will be coming to the United States. They will be divided into three groups that will travel from the US/Mexico border along the Pacific, central and Atlantic states covering 30 cities, 19 states and the District of Colombia. All three groups will converge in Washington and New York City.
Each hosting city has created its own local coalition to decide the local agenda, itinerary, and venues. Local groups have committed themselves to support the fundamental goal of providing a platform for the parents to speak in the United States and assumed the organizational and financial responsibility for the Caravan.
What happened to the Ayotzinapa students?
On September 26, 2014 a group of students was attacked by the police and other people in the city of Iguala, leaving six dead, 25 or more wounded, and 43 disappeared. While there have been several official and other unofficial investigations as of this date (January 2015) we have no clear idea of what happened to the students. We don’t know who killed, wounded, or kidnapped them, nor do we have a clear motive.