by Iris Ramirez, Stephanie Domingo, Selina Salazar
“In solidarity with the 43 missing students.”
This year’s Annual Endependence day was hosted by MEChA de CSUN on September 26, 2015 at the Chicano/a House. While the events date and title insinuate a correlation to Mexican Independence Day, the event’s true purpose was actually quite larger than it suggests. Endependence Day embodies the independence of most Latin American countries, including Mexico, Central America and South America. In addition, it embodies removing dependence from the corruption of certain institutions; hence the name “ENDependence.” The date, however, was determined in honor of the one-year anniversary of Ayotzinapa’s 43 missing students from the Escuela Normal in Guerrero, Mexico.
One Year Anniversary of a Tragedy
On September 26, 2014, 100 students from Ayotzinapa set out to Iguala, Guerrero in an effort to march to a demonstration that commemorated another student massacre: The Massacre of Tlatelolco. During their travels, buses were intercepted in Av. Juan N. Álvarez where Aldo Gutiérrez Solano and other students were injured and disappeared, in front of Palacio de Justicia de Iguala. The students were forced to hide and flee from municipal, state, and federal police, as well as mexican military. Students killed on scene: Julio Cesar Ramírez Nava, Daniel Solís Gallardo y Julio Cesar Mondragón Fontes, fell victim to the corrupt government. Since their arrest no one knows what happened to them, other than that the government is responsible for their disappearance. After two nights of confusion and terror, students began coming out of hiding and reuniting. After days of waiting and hearing back from other students, 43 were unaccounted for. According to students, most of those missing were freshmen. The Mexican government has taken many efforts to paint the students as ‘Revoltosos’, Communists, and radicals.The Mexican government claims that the students were kidnapped by Guerreros Unidos, burned and dumped at a site.Desperately the parents and the Mexican community searches for the students, they still have hope to find them alive, even though they were told that the students have been killed and burned in a mass grave. The disappearance caused people to take things into their own hands and to not trust the corrupt government.
Endependence Day served as an educational experience for anyone that showed up with no prior knowledge of the missing students or of the community that MEChA offers to California State University, Northridge. During this event there were many educational venue that showed how the community in the university comes together to commemorate such a tragedy and raise awareness. In particular there was a Skype interview towards the end of the event, that was offered to the public with three policemen from the state of Guerrero where the 43 students went missing. The interview with the three policemen provided information of how the pueblo has taken actions to their own hands; they could not stand by while the government did not move to help with the missing students from Ayotzinapa. The pueblo wants to break away from their dependency of the state government but has resulted in violence from the state government. The people’s motive is to self protect themselves from this daily attacks and struggle that they have received from the government that they supposebly trusted. Their cause was addressed to the media, their president and the world that they will not stand by while the corrupt government was going against humanity and its own people, they are going to fight for what they believe and stand for.
There is a Community
While Endependence Day signifies the celebration of independence it also serves as an event to cause political and cultural awareness. Because this years event choose to focus on the tragedy of the 43 missing students, there didn’t seem to have a cause to celebrate yet having the community come together and commemorate the students created a vivacious atmosphere. There was plenty of food and art to be found in the backyard of the Chicano House. You could find authentic native jewelry, creative trinkets and artwork sold by the vendors. There were many mexican antojitos: tamales, tostada and the agua frescas plus much more. In addition to all the food and vendors there were live performances, and a workshop that the public was encouraged to attend. The event had performances by Danza Mexica Cuauhtemoc, followed by Quinto Sol which then lead to the workshop; the Skype interview with the policemen in Guerrero.
Danza Mexica Cuauhtemoc is not considered a folklorico because they go around event after event to raise political, education and cultural awareness in the Chicano/a community. Between dances they gave out speeches in their thoughts of the commemoration of the 43 missing students.
Quinto Sol performed lyrical poems that spoke of Chicano/a community and going back to to their Aztec roots. It was truly an inspirational and educational performance done through poetry.
The performances not only focused on the 43 missing students, but embodied constitutional, cultural, economic, educational and political issues Chicano/a’s face everyday.
Although the attendance wasn’t as large as the past years, the event was a success. Because through this event they educated the public as in to why there couldn’t be a celebration of independence. They were able to raise awareness of the tragedy and the struggle that not only Chicanos face but what has consumed Mexico and really does not have any cause for celebration; form the unjust, inhumane and corrupt action of the Mexican government.