On September 26, 2014, forty-three student teachers from Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, Mexico, disappeared. They were young Indigenous men and were training to teach rural, disenfranchised youth like themselves. Like most incidents in Mexico, with the ins and outs of overt corruption composed of a sticky web of the military, the police, the government, and the cartels, the story is a complicated one and, to this day, over five years later, no one really knows exactly what happened. Except for the fact that the forty-three young men are dead. And disappeared. Even their deaths have vanished.
I moved to Mexico in 2015. I moved there to witness, make art and write about a society that endures violence on a level unimaginable in Canada and the US. I moved here to experience art with guts. Blood. Truth. In 2016, there were nearly 23,000 intentional homicides—the second-highest murder rate in the world, next to war-torn Syria. In 2017, there were 29,168. In 2018, it climbed again to 33,341.1
These murders are rarely of foreigners; they are Mexican people being murdered at such a rate, predominantly because of the war on drugs and the competition to get those drugs to the drug-addicted people in the US and Canada. Ironically, Mexico is blamed for the violence. In one of his ‘Mexico will pay for the wall’ tweets, Donald Trump proclaimed that Mexico could “stop all of this illegal trade if they wanted to immediately.” He continued on in his usual reductionist fashion: “we get the drugs, and they get the cash.”2 He left out the massacre of Mexicans in the process of getting the drugs to Americans.
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