Iguala: state crime, class crime

What kind of “order” demands that 43 people vanish? They were killed because they defy the fundamental politics of the state regarding education and social issues. In the end all of Mexico knows it.

Submitted by ubat on November 24, 2014

“The order reigns in Berlin”, said Rosa Luxemburg with bitter sarcasm just before being assassinated by the repression of the workers insurrection in the Germany of 1919. It was the same class of order that needed to be guarded at any price on september 26th, 2014 in Iguala, in the Mexican state of Guerrero. That day there was going to be an official celebration where the major of the municipality and his wife will be present. But the celebration was threatened by 80 students from the Escuela Normal of the near locality of Ayotzinapa. They went there to do political activism and the police attacked them with brutality under the orders of the municipality. This is is the episode that have Mexico in the international sight. The next day, the local press celebrated the repression with an article titled “Finally, order is restored” (Por fin se pone orden). During the next days the image of that cover was distributed over national media, together with other images that freeze your blood. It was the graphic account of what In Guerrero means the word “order”.

The agents shoot against the bus where the normalistas where traveling. But the bullets reached also - by error - a bus of a football team. The driver and a 14 year old player died. A passerby, Blanca Montiel, fell during in the shooting. In the morning of the Saturday 27th, twenty young people were hurt and five, dead. Of the survivors, 44 were arrested, or better put, kidnapped. Between them was Julio Cesar Mondragón, whom the next day was horribly tortured until he died: they tore the skin off his face. It is said it was because he spit at his captors. the 43 remaining have not appeared and the federal government claims they are dead.

On September 26th, the normalistas were in Iguala collecting funds to travel to Mexico City and take part of the yearly demo of October 2nd, the date of the massacre of Tlatelolco in 19681 . Their demands were targeted, mostly, against the cuts to public education. In the Escuela Normal of Ayotzinapa, future rural teachers (normalistas) are not ashamed of their campesino2 roots neither hide their political affiliation. They study not only to teach, but mostly to understand the social realities they will face when they became teachers. They are as poor as their future pupils and to survive they need to combine they scant grants from the government with intense work, because the school is at the same time, a collective farm. if they accept those conditions is not for an individual development, but to help “al pueblo”, to which they considered their sons. They are members of the Federation of Socialists Campesino Students. Their institute is adorned with portraits of Marx, Engels, Lenin, as well of Mexican guerrilla leaders from the seventies: Genaro Vásquez and Lucio Cabañas, two rural teachers formed in the same school.

The spokesperson of the government, the right wing parties and mass media have always referred to them as rioters, subversive and criminals. And not only them. Last year, a protest of rural teachers in the capital of the country, attracted an unprecedented hate campaign, explicitly classist and implicitly racist. In this conditions, the violent repression has come to be an "occupational hazard" for the normalistas. In December 2011, two of them were assassinated by state police during the protest in Chilpancingo (capital of the state of Guerrero), something that practically, produced no scandal at all.

Both the government and press (national and international) present the Iguala Massacre as one more episode of the long "narco-war", which has devastated México in the last seven years. The potential collaboration of the organized crime with Iguala police in this attack has contributed to cast a shadow in the specific political nature of this crime. The federal government declared its indignation and put all blame in the local government. The policemen that participated and their civil partners were arrested by federal forces. The municipal president, José Luis Abarca, had to run away only to be captured weeks after and far from the city. Gradually they made public his responsibility in many other acts of political violence, together with the family links of his wife, Ángeles Pineda, with the the powerful Beltrán Leyva cartel. In between the mess of the different levels of government, parties involved and drug cartels, a simple understanding, a motto condensed in 3 words, has been unfolding: FUE EL ESTADO (It was the state). What underlies this understanding is not only that the perpetrators were the police, that acted respecting their chain of command, but that their motivation was the "state" motivation par excellence: the defense of the established social order through the repression of dissidents.

In a press conference on November 7th, the General Attorney, Jesús Murillo Karam, denied that the Mexican state as a whole, had any responsibility for the actions of the government of the municipality. However, he admitted right there and with all spontaneity that if the federal army would have been present, far from protect the normalistas the troops would had contributed to their repression. Their job as army is help to the "constituted authority".

Being Mexico a presidential and centralist country, the man that - in form and in fact - commands the armed forces of all the national territory is the president of the Republic. Today, that position is held by Enrique Peña Nieto, from the PRI. Therefore, the fathers and mothers of the victims, after meeting with Peña Nieto, instead of showing the traditional "respect to his investiture", declared him responsible of the fate of their sons.

The nationalistic Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) also have a part on this. This electoral option is considered by media pundits "the left". And to this ranks belong the municipal president of Igual (Abarca) and the governor of the state of Guerrero, Àngel Aguirre, who had to resign against the evidence of his proximity with Abarca. This circumstance, far from obscuring the political nature of the crime, in a way the have simplify it: The differences between political parties have become irrelevant in comparison with the abyss that separate all of them from the social movement, specially from the youth.

The power is so removed from the people, that the strong signs of rejection, aren't only against the two mentioned parties (PRI and PRD), but also against a third party, the National Acción Party (PAN). PAN was not directly involved in the Iguala massacre, but they were in office when the militarization of México started, less than ten years ago. Back then, President Felipe Calderón (2006-2012), willing to legitimize his position after questionable elections, launch a frontal war against drug dealers. For that, he expanded the police functions of the army and broke certain pacts and balances that until then had allowed the citizenship live with in relative peace.

In these days, the comrades from the disappeared normalistas and militants from the teachers union from the state have set on fire twice the local government building. They have also loot food from big supermarkets to share it with the population of Chilpancingo and ocuppied for 3 hours the airport of Acapulco. In the rest of the country, the student strikes that happen, longer each time, and a protest in Mexico City was close to burn down the door of the emblematic National Palace, headquarters of the federal government.

These actions have been dissipating the consensus of consternation that dominated the Mexican society in the days that followed the disappearance of the students. As the protest radicalize, those outraged only by word mark away from the outraged in deeds. More and more, the strongest actions are attributed to "infiltrators". This opens the breaches in solidarity even more.

More often there are published opinions that equate the violence of the victimizer with the resistance of the victim, valuing more the objects destroyed in the protests than the lives destroyed by repression. When the attempt to burn the door of the National Palace, the public officer and young leader of the PRI Luis Adrían Ramírez, expressed in rich language what others only express in between lines. In social networks, he said that the government should not stop at the "fucking idea of preserving the human rights of beasts that don't deserve to live... and today more than ever i call for the return of someone like Mr. Gustavo Díaz Ordaz", making reference to the president associated with the repression of the student movement in 1968. The daughter of a PRI union leader illustrated in 7 words the deep motivations of this violence, when she wrote in her Facebook: "No wonder why they burn them... NACOS". "Naco", in México, is the word used to refer to the socially poor and racially indigenous.

The same words that were used against the normalistas before they disappear - rioters, vandals, delinquents -- are used today in the big commercial press against those protesting for their disappearance. Solidarity is getting harder between intellectuals, as much as is needed most. However, as the many spokespeople, journalists, pundits, writers and academics mark their line from the violence in the protests, more workers join the base of the protests. Many important unions have joined formally the demos. People normally apathetic, or even conservative, defend the actions that the "opinion leaders" denounce. The hairdresser starts telling me about her economic problems and ends with "the boys of Guerrero". The taxi driver, after dealing with hours of traffic because a street was shutdown, explains. "its for the boys" and keeps a respectful silence. A pair of women sitting in the movies next to me get offended with the government advertising and scream "we did not pay to be lied at!".

So, again, like always during the last 8 years, there are dead Mexicans. Sadly, this is no longer news. Why was this the case that sparked the protest? Maybe because they were not our average Mexicans. They were young people that fought for the poor and aspire to educate the poor population. They weren't killed by accident, for denying paying a ransom, not even for being in the wrong place. Much less for belonging to a rival cartel. They were killed because they defied the fundamental politics of the state regarding education and social issues. In the end all of Mexico knows it. Meanwhile it is spreading, the intuition that the police of the rich killed the kids of the poor, for defending the poor. All of the poor.


Translation from Iguala: Crímen de Estado, Crímen de Clase by Oscar de Pablo

Image CC by Karla Rodriguez at Subversiones, Agencia Auntónoma de Comunicación

  • 1 The government massacred 500 demonstrating students on this day
  • 2 Peasant/rural