They just vanished.
In September, 43 students on their way to Iguala, Mexico to protest a speech by Mayor José Luis Abarca Velázquez’ wife, María de los Ángeles Pineda Villa, were arrested by the police on the mayor’s orders and allegedly turned over to the Guerreros Unidos Cartel. They have not been seen since and are presumed dead.
Border Angels and their supporters filled Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Barrio Logan in solidarity with the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa, Mexico. It started off with a special mass and the priest praying for God’s blessing for the families of the missing students.
A candlelight vigil and moment of silence took place outside, in front of the church in support of the students. A human body was outlined in chalk as if it was a crime scene. Around it were 43 candles and many crosses to represent the missing students.
Mexicans and Americans are protesting the kidnapping.
In Mexico City, demonstrators burned the doors of the Palacio Municipal, Mexico’s oldest and most elegant government building.
Rage is also burning north of the border.
Border Angels Executive Director Enrique Morones encouraged attendees to be hopeful.
“We pray that these students come back to us,” he said. “They were taken alive and we want them back alive.”
After 43 seconds of silence, the students’ names were read to the crowd.
“We are going to honor these young men and women that are missing,” he said. “We will call out each name and yell presente to show that they are not forgotten.”
Attendees shouted “vivos se lo llevaron” (they were taken alive) and “vivo se los queremos” (we want them back alive).
Documentary filmmaker Charlie Minn came to support the vigil. His film “Es el Chapo?” is a startling exposé of the narco wars in Mexico and the government.
“Finally something is being done about the violence in Mexico,” he said. “It is a shame that this event happened.”
Border Angels outreach coordinator Dulce Aguirre, a Southwestern College student, said Border Angels felt it was important to encourage Americans to get involved.
“We support everyone protesting in Mexico,” she said. “It is unfair that these students from Ayotzinapa were kidnapped for speaking out.”
Aguirre said Border Angels is trying to inform people about the situation.
“Our goal is to let everyone know what is going,” she said. “People need to know that they have to speak up to the Mexican government.”
Many Border Angels supporters fasted for 43 hours.
“The anniversary of the Mexican Revolution is this year,” Aguirresaid. “We are fasting 43 hours for the 43 students that are missing and we want people to join in this purification process and think about these student’s lives.”
Community member Florencia Vidrio called for divine intervention.
“We need to pray for these kids,” she said. “No one deserves to be taken from their families over their free speech.”
Minn said corruption in Mexico is an international problem.
“Mexicans on both sides need to protest Enrique Peña Nieto and the corrupt government,” he said. “What kind of leader runs to China when his country is about to implode over the frustration of cartel kidnappings?”
Morones said the event is the first of a series of peaceful actions in the U.S.
“We are hoping this vigil will set the tone for the Mexican people to protest,” he said. “We want peaceful protests to happen and we need to be the change we want to see in other people.”
They just vanished.