The Missing 43 and the Border
By Sergio Olivas
A documentary by Charlie Minn opened in El Paso on the weekend of October 9th – October 11th in the Premiere Cinema in the Bassett Mall. Minn’s documentaries have focused on the violence that occurred in Cd. Juarez and have looked at the United States’ “War on Drugs.” In his recent documentary, 43, Minn looks at the events that happened on the night of September 26, 2014 in which forty-three students from Raul Isidro Burgos Rural Normal School in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero were taken and never seen again. The students had gone to Iguala to protest at an event for Maria de los Angeles Pineda, the wife of Mayor Jose Luis Abarca Velazquez. It is alleged that Velazquez had ordered the municipal police to ambush the students and hand them over to local cartels.
The event had brought an uproar from the citizens of Mexico as well as the rest of the world. Dozens of municipal police were arrested as well as the Mayor and his wife. A federal investigation found bodies in which the government identified as the students, but experts from Argentina testified that those bodies did not belong to the students. Under continuing political pressure from the public, Mexico is conducting a second investigation.
When asked in an interview outside the Premier Cinema about the United States’ arrangements with Mexico such as Plan Merida (a plan that provides Mexico with intelligence, equipment, and weapons), Minn stated, “We have failed with the War on Drugs which has caused a lot of the murders in Mexico… Plan Merida has been a ten year disaster as the money went to two corrupt groups being the federal army and the federal police. When they came to Juarez in 2009, the murder rate shot up to eight murders a day a few months later, and when they abandon the city, the murder rate went down to two murders a day.” In October, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Raad al-Hussein, implored Mexico to “remove” soldiers from the streets and be replaced with skilled police forces in order to address the threat of human rights violations.
Minn also stated that though the Paso Del Norte Region has not been directly impacted by the incident, it has disturbed those who have strong ties south of the border and those who care about the culture and the citizens of Mexico. “We’ve had too many innocent people get murdered: over a hundred and fifty-thousand in the last seven years.” As the largest binational community in the world, El Pasoans as well as Juarenses care deeply for each other’s state of being. In March, parents of the 43 missing students came to El Paso and Juarez as part of a national campaign in the U.S. to spread the awareness of the frustration Mexican citizens are having with the Mexican government. In September, an organization in UTEP, MEChA, protested on campus, demanding justice and transparency for the incident in Iguala. These demonstrations in the local community reflect on the commercial, cultural, and political interdependence between Mexico and the United States, whether Washington recognizes it or not.
“I think Anabel Hernandez’s last quote in the [43 documentary] was appropriate: ‘No more!’… A couple of things I think audience goers should take away from the film is that this is nothing new in Mexico. This has been going on in the last seven years where we have wide-spread corruption … The 43 students missing are on top of 25,000 more that have gone missing … I think the Mexican people have to come together and like Anabel said, No more!”