Guerrero is one of the most dangerous and crime ridden states in Mexico. According to Wikipedia, “The Guerrero State is listed as Level 4 – Do Not Travel by the United States Department of State stating armed groups operate independently of the government in many areas of Guerrero. Members of these groups frequently maintain roadblocks and may use violence towards travelers. Violent crime, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery, is widespread. The U.S. government has limited ability to provide assistance here. It is recommended that nobody travel to Guerrero if possible.” Acapulco as a tourist destination is out.
The main reason for this area’s carnage is massive poppy cultivation in the local hills. The poppy species grown here is a major source of opium which is used by the local drug cartels (known as Narcos) to produce heroin, which they then export to the U.S. In July of this year, Mexicos’s President, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) announced that the government will provide marketplace price supports for corn and other grains as part of a strategy to give farmers an alternative to planting these illicit crops.
On September 26, 2014, 43 male students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers College in Guerrero were forcibly abducted and disappeared in nearby Iguala. The students annually commandeer several buses to carry them to Mexico City to commemorate the anniversary of the 1968 Tlatelolco Massacre where hundreds of student protesters and onlookers were shot by the army.
Well this year was different. Paul Theroux speculates that the bus the 43 students commandeered happened to be full of hidden illicit drugs. The corrupt local authorities took this as an affront and ordered municipal police to abduct and kill the students. The government tried to blame the whole thing on a local crime syndicate who supposedly had mistaken the students for rival cartel members. No one accepted this story line. The perpetrators and their motive remains unknown.
To this day, not a trace of the 43 missing students has ever been found. Their parents demanded again this week that police involved in the disappearance and the officials who botched the original investigation, face justice.
As Paul mentions in On the Plain of Snakes, when an oppressed group in Mexico airs a grievance, it doesn’t mumble. It takes to the streets with resolve, holds a demonstration in the main plaza, camps out in front of a ministry in a defiant vigil, burns a bus, blocks a motorway. The parents of the 43 missing Ayotzinapa students met with AMLO and gave the federal government 2 more months to produce results, or they will increase the intensity of their protests.
The government claims that it is making progress in the reinvestigation, but objects to the timeframe pressure being imposed. We shall see what happens, as Marie and I will be down there in January when the deadline expires… In the meantime, let us pray that justice is achieved for the parents of these missing sons.