This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Bhavya Kumar. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Mexico Erupts In Massive Protests As Students Allege Murder Of 43 Students Who Were Reported ‘Missing’

More from Bhavya Kumar

By Bhavya Kumar:

The going gets tougher for President Enrique Pena Nieto as massive protests turn violent, and Molotov cocktails fly around as a form of expression by the agitated students of Mexico City. Effigy of the President was incinerated, protesters swarmed inside the premises of the National Palace and managed to burn the door down. Benito Juarez International Airport was where a massive confrontation between riot police and about 300 protesters took place. Police charged into the protests and it got increasingly violent, though there has been no casualty. The G-20 meet at Brisbane didn’t go well either, where local protesters joined in, and made it clear that Nieto was not welcome in the wake of what happened back in Mexico. Their rage was triggered by massacre, fairly recent, which was pulled off by a local drug gang and corrupt policemen.

mexico 2014 protests

The protesters are convinced that the state is involved as well, which they they think is evident from the inadequacy of their investigations.

On 26th September, about fifty seven students, teachers-in-training from a small college (Ayotzinapa’s Normal School), were abducted in the southwestern city of Iguala by the police. While fourteen of them were let off, the rest forty three were declared “missing”, then assumed murdered, most probably incinerated. The students, it has been reported, were present for a protest where they clashed with the police and were allegedly wound up by them and handed over to Guerreros Unidos from the local cartel, who carried out the massacre, burnt the bodies and dumped them into the river. Investigations led to the arrest of the highest local police authority, Cesar Nava Gonzalez, who was instrumental in the abduction. The mayor himself has come under the scrutiny of investigators.

These 43 students were protesting against certain educational reforms and increasing university fees. President Nieto’s educational reforms were controversial as it is. The state intends to take into its hands the standards of qualification and salaries of public school teachers and lending greater autonomy to schools at the same time, and the latter is particularly striking because of the fact that Mexico’s poverty-stricken regions don’t even have proper facilities in schools, let alone utilization of autonomy anyway. Guerrero, where all this action took place, is one of the poorest states in Mexico, where this ambitious plan might not work. While the reforms are rather comprehensive, they haven’t taken into consideration the poorer or ill-funded schools. The problem is not just that of the schools and the education system, but that of the deep-entrenched socio-economic disparity that Mexico is characterized by.

Students own this movement. I admit there’s some diversity among the protesters, but they are largely students, who are expressing their anger not only about this Ayotzinapa massacre, but also about so many things that came along with it. Demanding justice isn’t enough, the cause of injustice has to be dealt with as well. On November 17, there was a call for a countrywide strike against government corruption. There’s more to this discontent, though. This agitation is important because it exposes the thick mess of so many problems that hinder the growth of the Mexican society. Drug cartels continue to affect Mexican polity in multiple ways. Mass graves are common in Mexico where the unidentified dead are found, and at one point of time, a mass grave consisting of 28 corpses was thought to be that of the Ayotzinapa students. It wasn’t. But the fact that the grave itself existed says a lot about how bad the situation of civil rights is in Mexico. The highest rates of homicide within Mexico come from Guerrero. Mexico itself has the highest crime rate. The Mexican Drug War reached its peak in 2008, leaving about 80,000 people dead. The state was not only weak but also tied by its multiple compromises with these cartels. What we call violations of human rights is the everyday reality of Mexicans in areas where these drug cartels are the most prominent.

There’s yet another, deeper and more expansive aspect to this movement. It is only another one of its kind in the long history of struggle between students and the state. Mexican politics has this strong infusion of left-wing ideals which has been maintained through and through by none other than the students themselves. They seek a revolution. Mexico’s dirty war was characterized by the struggles between the left-wing students’ guerrilla organizations and the PRI government, which has been in power in Mexico for almost a century now by sordid political maneuvers at all times. The Tlatelolco massacre of 1968 started out with a massive number of students calling for a “revolution”, when an indiscriminate firing by the army and the police killed about 300 of them. National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) was, and still is, actively rallying support of students adhering to left-wing ideologies and today, in Mexico City, is the driving organization behind the massive student protests.

Mexico has its own peculiar socio-political setting. But, coupled with other Latin American countries, it seems to be somewhat in harmony with the agitations in those countries, for instance, Chile. It will take another article to write about the Chilean Students’ Movement, but it’s interesting to note that student groups there as well have turned to the Left. Camila Vallejo, a bright young woman trained to be a geologist, headed a students’ movement in Chile against the educational set up of the country. Communist Youth of Chile, which is a very active political party there, and which Vallejo is a part of, indicates the larger influence of the left-wing over Chilean politics. This students’ movement came to take into its ambit what Mexican protests also aimed at – corruption and socio-economic disparity.

It’s difficult to see which path shall Mexico actually take in all this. Though the protests are very much alive and electric, it is rather difficult to see if it shall evolve into a long-term movement of radical transformation at all. And amongst all this, one can see the face of Che Guevara in red and black adorning walls, buildings and other spaces and surfaces across Mexico.

You must be to comment.
  1. Monistaf

    Bhavya – Thank you for writing this article, but in a world awash with feminism no body seems to care about the vast majority of brutality out there as long as the victims are not female!! It simply does not align with the feminist goal of perpetuating the female victim status. These nationwide protests in Mexico are important because it is one of the very few times where an entire nation has rallied to protest violence against males. There have been unspeakable acts of horror in the last few months like the execution of 250 Syrian soldiers by ISIS or the execution of 48 fishermen by Boko Haram in Nigeria but everyone is too busy fighting “The Patriarchy”. There is no “Save our Fishermen” banner from the White house because only “Bringing back our girls” is a worthwhile cause. Even in India, 9 times as many men as women are victims of violence, but we need to dedicate all available resources to saving and protecting that one woman. The problem with this approach has clearly been demonstrated in history time and time again. If we do not feel their pain, it is inevitable that we will feel their anger. May be, just may be, if we can relate to and sympathize with the atrocities and injustice committed against the “other” half of the population, there is a better chance that they will reciprocate in kind!!

    Hopefully, this article is the first of many.

More from Bhavya Kumar

Similar Posts

By Silca

By Ankita Marwaha

By Ananya Tiwari

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below