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Slouching towards the Zocalo

20 November 2014

As you might expect, there are certainly those who are not at all supportive of the mass demonstrations today.  The comments section on stories in Milenio has been full of “kill them all, the stupid Indians” type remarks, and those that echo conservative columnist Ricardo Alemán, who argues that the government can restore credibility through some selective violence against dissidents.  And.. once in a while, something worth considering.  On a story appearing five days ago in Milenio on the groups planning to participate in today’s demonstration (Más de 50 organizaciones marcharán este jueves por normalistas, 15 November 2014) “Deore Danone” wrote:

 

The saddest thing is that all this has nothing to do with demands for justice.

Why are they not protesting the fifty people killed in the Monterrey Casino; the 60 students in Salvárcar Villas; the 72 migrants killed in Tamaulipas; why are they not marching for the 49 children who died in the ABC nursery … so many innocent .. truly, they never did receive justice.

But for most, it’s those 43 vandals they value.  Worth more simply because they have political connection. Their unhappy parents question the authorities but why not challenge the normal school leaders who used their children as cannon fodder?

Behind all this “solidarity” with the normal school parents is hidden political interest. And not so hidden. Many organizations are shamelessly using the pretext of the 43 as grist for the mill. For them, the worst that could happen to them is [for the missing students] to appear alive.

Of course, there were indeed protests after middle-class housewives were killed in the Monterrey fire (and, as I recall, a crackdown on irregularly licensed casinos), and after the ABC nursery fire … the former a gangster shakedown gone terribly wrong, the latter the kind of tragedy that can happen anywhere, though it exposed bureaucratic ineptitude (fire inspections not done) made worse by the indifference of the owners (who included powerful political figures and their families) to public safety. And, various protests of the others, explained away as governmental inability to fight gangsterism.

“Deore Danone” is correct in that the Normal School students are encouraged to take political action, and that they are often the “shock troops” in leftist political actions. It’s not a huge stretch to consider the student actions that day in September as “vandalism” (and Milenio commentators tend to be of the “shoot em all and let the Lord sort em out” philosophy of property crime prevention), nor to see that political capital has been made of the disappearances (and presumed murder) of these students.

BUT…

Consider that the Iguala incident had all the elements of the previous tragedies … gangsterism and indifference to public safety… compounded by legitimate political protest (over school funding and curriculum design issues), and exposed not only the nexus between power and privilege, but came at a time when economic and social issues only peripherally related to the actual incident itself were also central to public discourse. I don’t think the Normal School students were more “valuable” than the children killed in the Hermosillo fire, nor the housewives in Monterrey, but — yes — they are a political symbol, and one easily grasped, of what so many Mexicans see as their own victimization by a state that is not meeting their demands. That other citizens … thoughtful or otherwise… are going to resist those demands can only be expected.

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born.

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