Mexico Burns, U.S. Needs to Feel the Heat

December 8, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Editors' note: We are reposting this article, which originally appeared December 8, because of the continuing importance of the struggle sparked by the September 2014 police attack on 43 students in Iguala in the Mexican state of Guerrero. So far, the remains of one of the 43 missing students have been officially identified through DNA testing. Protests are continuing in Mexico. On December 26, three months after the students were disappeared by the police, protesters covered the wall of the military base in Iguala with graffiti declaring "Here are the murderers."


Relatives of the 43 missing students from the Isidro Burgos rural teachers college march hold pictures of their missing loved ones during a protest in Mexico City, December 26, 2014.

Relatives of the 43 missing students from the Isidro Burgos rural teachers college march holding pictures of their missing loved ones during a protest in Mexico City, December 26, 2014. AP photo

“If you don’t burn, you are ashes,” reads one hand-made sign in a Mexico City march, meaning: How could you not burn with fury and grief for the disappearance of 43 students at the hands of the police in the state of Guerrero in southwest Mexico; how could you not burn for the disappearance of more than 25,000 people and the deaths of more than 120,000 since the start of the U.S.-orchestrated “war on drugs” in 2006? It may have seemed (and the ruling class had hoped) that the enormity and gruesomeness of this situation had chilled many people in Mexico into a silence of ashes, but now the fierce struggle of the fellow students and parents of the disappeared has provided a spark which is spreading like a wildfire.

“A political earthquake the likes of which Mexico has not seen in generations” is how a November 15 Los Angeles Times op-ed piece by Rubén Martínez described the crisis in Mexico. Every day the crisis continues to intensify.

Check out just a snapshot of events since September 26, when police killed six people and disappeared 43 teacher college students in Guerrero, Mexico:

  • Tens of thousands march in the capital on November 20, being later attacked and dispersed by truckloads of police; the National Palace door is set on fire for second time.
  • One hundred thousand college students strike on November 22. Some colleges and schools have been on strike continuously.
  • Sonora State Congress hall seized by protestors, who agitate from the podium – November 20.
  • Students seize toll booths in numerous states.
  • Federal highways are blocked by students, teachers, and armed self-defense groups from rural and indigenous communities.
  • Acapulco International Airport blocked for hours.
  • Of 81 municipalities (counties) in Guerrero, between one quarter and one half have been seized by residents, forcing out the corrupt and repressive elected officials.
  • Parents of the disappeared students announced that People’s Councils will take power in five of the seized municipalities.
  • Thousands march with faces covered in Chiapas communities affiliated with the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (Zapatistas).
  • 1500 teachers and students marched in the Guerrero state capital of Chilpancingo, after which the state government building was burned down—November 8.
  • Party offices of both the PRI (currently the ruling party nationally) and “leftist” PRD (ruling party in Guerrero) trashed and burned in the Guerrero capital, legislators’ seats inside congress building and cars outside are burned – November 11.
  • Iguala City Hall is burned down and a mall associated with the former mayor trashed and looted October 22.

“We would be willing to take up arms, first and foremost, because we’re not going to have any alternative,” said a father of a disappeared student in a documentary by Vice News, The Missing 43: Mexico's Disappeared Students. This kind of sentiment is being hotly debated and defended in social media and on the streets.

Blatantly Political Attack on the Rural Teaching College Students

On September 26, 150 students of the men’s rural teacher training college in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, (a 3½ hour drive south of Mexico City) went to the city of Iguala, Guerrero to raise funds to travel to Mexico City on October 2 to commemorate the anniversary of the government massacre of hundreds of students and other protestors in Tlatelolco Plaza in 1968. That evening, they took three buses from the bus yard, winning over the drivers to give them a ride home.

Travelling to events by commandeering buses—convincing the bus drivers to support them, or driving the buses themselves—is a tradition among poor youth in Mexico. This time, however, the buses were cut off on the way out of town by Iguala police who fired indiscriminately into the buses, shooting two to death on the spot and horribly killing another in the bushes by tearing off his face and gouging out his eyes. The police loaded 43 students in patrol cars, took them to the police station and there handed them over to the drug trafficking gang which was headed up by none other than the mayor of Iguala and his wife.

Many students were able to flee the scene, and they returned a few hours later with local journalists and more fellow students. They were again attacked by men shooting from unmarked vans, so wildly and openly that three people in passing vehicles were killed. One of the surviving students, Omar García, tells how they were fleeing, carrying a fellow student with a gunshot head wound, when they ran into soldiers from the military base very close to the attack scene. Refusing to call an ambulance, a captain instead interrogated and photographed the students, telling them that if they did not give him their real names they would disappear and nobody would know what happened to them. They told the students, “You wanted to act big, you asked for it.”

Now the Mexican government tries to pin the whole incident on the mayor of Iguala, Abarca, and his wife, now in custody after the federal government allowed them to quietly go on the lam for 40 days. Bullshit! Last year Abarca ordered the kidnapping of six political opponents; one of them escaped and testified that Abarca had personally taken part in killing the victims. The state refused to indict Abarca. His party, the Partido de la Revolución Democrática, the “leftist opposition” party, supported the upcoming mayoral campaign of his wife, whose ties to top drug lords are an open secret. And what about the military in the area of the attack? The federal government sent 10,000 troops to Guerrero to supposedly hunt for the students’ remains, but there is not even a whisper of investigation of the military’s threats against the students that night and the military’s failure to even question the hail of bullets around the students.

What the government is covering up is that Ayotzinapa students have been a thorn in the side of the ruling class in Mexico. The rural teacher colleges in Mexico have a long tradition of training youth of the very poor and often indigenous communities in leftist ideology and militant direct action. For this reason, along with the neoliberal economic program currently being crammed down the throats of the society at the demand of the U.S. imperialists, the government has closed most of the rural teacher colleges. Ayotzinapa students have been battling for years to fight the government’s efforts to force their college’s closure by cutting off its budget to a tiny trickle. In 2011, two students were gunned down by police during a march which blocked a major highway. It is absurd to claim that this intense conflict between the Ayotzinapa students and the state had nothing to do with the virulent police attack and the disappearance of the 43 students.

What the government is also trying to cover over is that many thousands of people are pointing to all levels of government as being responsible and in complete collusion with the extremely lucrative drug cartels. The municipal, state and federal police, the military, the rival electoral parties and the cartels are all in the service of enriching capitalist empires inside and (especially) outside of Mexico and enforcing their rule by exploiting and terrorizing the masses, although they may accomplish that through a complex interplay which includes a murderous rivalry among and between all these forces.

For more information on the struggle of the rural teachers colleges, see "From A World to Win News Service: Mexico: Rising protests after the kidnapping of 43 students."

Uncle Sam Is the Puppeteer Behind “El Barbie”

The U.S. government continues to staunchly support the presidency of Enrique Peña Nieto, ridiculed in Mexico as “El Barbie” for his resemblance to a Ken doll, intellectually as well as physically. But he’s not just a Ken doll, he’s a certified made in America doll. Just listen to U.S. big media drooling over him last December, after he rammed through the privatization of Mexican oil reserves, the fifth largest in the world:

“As Venezuela’s economy implodes and Brazil’s growth stalls, Mexico is becoming the Latin oil producer to watch—and a model of how democracy can serve a developing country,” (Washington Post editorial, 12/15/13)

“Mexican Oil And Gas: Christmas Arrives Early” (Forbes magazine, 12/12/13)

Of course, U.S. machinations in Mexico go much farther back than its recent efforts to restructure the Mexican economy in its image. The website shows profit remittances into the U.S. from investments in Mexico were $14 billion in 2012 alone.

But even more important than those financial statistics is the 2,000-mile border that Mexico shares with the U.S. and the millions of immigrants from Mexico who live in the U.S. and give the U.S. economy a huge shot in the arm.

This does not mean, however, that the U.S. is doing a good job at dealing with the chaos on its southern border.

The “war on drugs” which has caused such a disastrous loss of life since 2006 was largely orchestrated by the U.S. The extent of U.S. involvement has been kept secret to avoid a backlash against the campaign in Mexico. A full description would require a much longer article, but as John Ackerman, a National Autonomous University of Mexico professor noted on “The United States has funneled at least $3 billion in assistance to Mexico over the last six years, in addition to enormous amounts of secret spending in direct military and security support. U.S. agents directly participate in the Mexican drug war. Numerous ‘fusion centers’ exist throughout Mexico for directly sharing intelligence. American drones constantly fly over Mexican territory. Last year, the Obama administration ordered the website host GoDaddy to close down a leading Mexican opposition website in response to a groundless complaint from the Mexican government. And the Wall Street Journal has just revealed that U.S. agents dress up in Mexican military uniforms to participate directly in special missions.”

The U.S., the Real Power Behind the Mexican War on the People

This points to the urgency for people in the U.S. of all nationalities to take responsibility to aim struggle directly at the U.S. government for its so-called “war on drugs” (in reality a war on the people) and its support for the blood-stained Mexican government, which includes all its parties and branches of government.

There have been protests in different cities in the U.S. in support of the people's struggle in Mexico around the disappearance of the Ayotzinapa students. The website, among others, called for actions December 3-6 focused on protesting the U.S. government’s support for Peña Nieto. YES! Go directly to the source and hit at the hand which controls the puppet (or the Ken doll, in this case)! In some cities, those protests joined with actions against the grand jury decision to not bring any charges against the cop who killed Eric Garner in Staten Island, NY.

These protests need to continue and grow. People in the U.S. have a special responsibility to support the struggle of the people in Mexico, and to expose and oppose the moves of the U.S. capitalist-imperialist rulers.

Volunteers Needed... for and Revolution

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.