Caravana43 demands justice in Philly
Vowing never to be quiet and claiming “Mexico mourns but is not dead” the parents and relatives of the 43 Mexican missing students from Ayotzinapa have set themselves on a U.S. tour and will soon tell their stories in Philadelphia.
Caravana43 is a project developed to bring to the United States the parents and classmates of the 43 Normalista students who disappeared last year on Sept. 26 in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico.
The disappearance of the students in the southern city of Iguala happened after they were attacked by municipal police allegedly working with a local drug cartel. Although Mexico’s former Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam officially declared the students dead in January, saying that confessions and forensic evidence supported the theory that their bodies were incinerated near a garbage dump, the Mexican Government has stated that the case is not closed.
Last March a report on torture and impunity in Mexico was presented at the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations in Geneva, based on a fact-finding mission headed by Juan Méndez, a lawyer and human rights activist known for his work on behalf of political prisoners.
“Méndez’s report links torture in Mexico to government efforts to combat the country’s drug cartels. The report concludes the safeguards are weak, particularly in the detection and prevention of torture in the initial moments, as well as in ensuring its rapid, impartial, independent and exhaustive investigation,” The Guardian reported.
Currently there are three caravans covering more than 40 cities from the U..S/Mexico border along the Pacific, Central, and Atlantic regions. The aim is to provide an international forum for the parents who have lost their children.
Among the expected members to visit Philadelphia are professor Felipe de la Cruz Sandoval, member of the faculty of the Rural Teachers College of Ayotzinapa. His son, a student at the college, survived the police attack that resulted on the forced disappearance of the 43 students.
Maria de Jesus Tlatempa Bello, mother of José Eduardo Bartolo Tlatempa, one of the disappeared students, will also stop in Philadelphia.
“I miss my son. He was a fun-loving boy always trying to make us laugh with his break-dancing,” Tlatempa said. “Unfortunately all of that ended with what happened on September 26. Since then we have lived with a deep and sad sense of hopelessness and pain because we don't know where our children are.”
Clemente Rodríguez Moreno, father of missing student Christian Alfonso Rodriguez Telumbre, said things haven’t been easy. He used to work by selling water but is currently unemployed.
“I have three children, and my son who is missing, (and they are) all that keeps me going. I want my children to be somebody in life,” Rodríguez said. “I didn't have the opportunity to give my children (the opportunity to go to) school and the Ayotzinapa academy was their only chance. If I only had been able to send them to another school….”
The tour in Pennsylvania begins with a talk at Haverford College (370 Lancaster Avenue, Haverford, Pa) on April 8, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., which will include the participation of the members of the caravan.
Then on Thursday April 9 several events are scheduled in Philadelphia, starting with a press conference at City Hall at 9:15 a.m., follow by the testimonies of the students’ relatives at City Council.
Councilwoman María Quiñones-Sánchez sponsored a resolution calling upon the international community to conduct an independent investigation into the disappearance, and alleged killing of the students. The resolution, co-sponsored by Councilmembers Mark Squilla, Bill Greenlee, Curtis Jones, Cindy Bass, Dennis O'Brien and David Oh, will be presented on Thursday at the City Council session.
This will be followed by a presentation at Fleisher Art Memorial (719 Catharine Street) from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. The caravan then will walk towards South Philly to take part in a dialogue between local families and educators hosted by the local cultural organization Casa Monarca (1448 South 17th Street) starting at 3 p.m.
Thursday’s final event will be at Temple University (107 Gladfelter Hall, 1115 Polett Walk) from 6 to 8 p.m.
On Friday April 10 the caravan will stop by a Latino community center in South Philadelphia, La Casa de los Soles (2029 South 8th Street) from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. to later march towards Love Park and then conclude the march with a protest outside of the Mexican Consulate in Philadelphia (111 S Independence Mall).
For the complete schedule visit Caravana 43.