OAXACA de JUAREZ, Mexico — Two months ago, 43 college students went missing in Iguala, a city in southern Mexico, after participating in a demonstration to promote teachers’ rights. After a fruitless six-week search for the kidnapped students, who had attended Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College in Ayotzinapa, members of a local drug cartel confessed to massacring the students and incinerating their remains. According to authorities, the cartel was handed the students by Iguala’s mayor José Luis Abarca Velázquez, and his wife, María de los Ángeles Pineda Villa. The two were arrested earlier this month.
But that hasn’t stopped the outrage in Mexico as protests continue to sweep the country.
In Oaxaca, a state (with a capital of the same name) that borders the state of Guerrero, home to Iguala, there have been regular demonstrations since the gruesome murders. Over the past month, protestors have repeatedly blocked roads and demanded Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s ouster. Oaxaca has its own extensive history of teacher protests. In 2006, after a months-long standoff with teachers who had been protesting in favor of better working conditions, the conflict escalated and police opened fire on multiple occasions. Seventeen people were ultimately killed. Teachers’ demonstrations have continued to be a mainstay in Oaxaca since; they are currently camped out in the capital city’s downtown square protesting for more rights.
It’s unsurprising, then, with this history in Oaxaca, the volume of Ayotzinapa graffiti that has popped up on buildings around the city. Much of it accuses the government, and particularly President Peña Nieto, of being complicit in the massacre.
I asked Sergio Sarmiento, 30, a college student in Oaxaca, about the graffiti. “It’s not possible to say it was the government’s fault, because there is no government, or at least not a functioning one,” he told ThinkProgress. He thinks the mayor of Iguala, José Luis Abarca Velázquez, and his wife, María de los Ángeles Pineda Villa, deserve to go to jail for the rest of their lives, and likely will receive this maximum penalty because of the international outrage the case has generated. (Mexico does not employ the death penalty.)
Here is a sampling of the Ayotzinapa signs and graffiti around Oaxaca:
(All photos credit: Scott Keyes)