26th November 2014
To the International Scientic Community.
Mexican Science –or Art or Humanities- cannot thrive. Inadequate funding is not the only culprit, although it plays a role. The fundamental reason is the climate of insecurity that places society in general, and students in particular, in a vulnerable position vis-à-vis the members of criminal organisations and the police alike. A gruesome demonstration occurred two months ago, when the Major of a town in the State of Guerrero found expedient to prevent that teaching students protesting against lack of job opportunities interfered with a political event led by his wife. He used the local police to confront, hijack and hand the students to members of a local drug gang who then made them disappear. To date, the fate of the 43 sequestered students is unknown, but information released by the Federal Attorney General, and grim antecedents, suggest that they were murdered in cold blood, their corpses incinerated and their ashes dispersed. If not found, this barbaric act would sum 43 to the 27,000+ people who have disappeared in recent years in the context of bloody wars between criminal organisations and ine3cient, largely heavy-handed action by the often colluded security forces.
Time and again students have been victimised; some were chased and shot at in Monterrey, others murdered in Morelos, in Michoacán, in Oaxaca, in Guerrero, and in recent weeks arbitrary detentions and armed aggressions against students have taken place in the main campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), the largest in the Country and arguably the oldest in the Americas, in Mexico City. Harassment against students has taken place in States or Cities governed by each of the three major political Parties in the Country, and all have been denounced, and often shown, to include in their ranks prominent members with known criminal links. The authorities systematically blame common criminals for the violence against civilians in general, and students in particular, and the ultimate reason has been put down to the huge revenue that drug gangs collect from sales inthe USA. This is a major component of current violence in Mexico, as drug sales and weapons purchases in the USA fuel the wars gangs ght for control of lucrative smuggling routes. But the real blame we lay on the self-serving nature of Mexican political class.
Parties act as employment agencies eager to support local caciques in order to win elections. Whether these political operators are honest citizens with some in>uence in the electoral district, or leaders of local criminal organisations seeking to increase their control of the security forces, make no di?erence to the political parties that support their campaigns. This is a vast and insidious problem, and one that State Governors and Federal authorities alike have been unwilling, or unable, to curb. Further, authorities at all levels of government have failed to promote development and equality. This is the most fundamental problem of the Country and also the reason why thousands of youths and children are every year recruited by the criminal gangs; a healthy society that places the emphasis of governance on its citizens’ wellbeing would not produce such a massive spare workforce ready to risk death in a life of crime.
The Mexican State has failed to provide education, jobs and security to the Mexicans; neither it protects their fundamental rights, nor provides the conditions in which the society, its Arts, Humanities and Sciences can prosper. We, as members of the Biological Sciences community of UNAM, now shrink from visiting our eld sites and are loath to send students and technicians to do eld work, as several of our members have been victims of attacks and extortion, or have being caught in the middle of gun battles during eld trips.
This grim reality is in stark contrast with the image that the State promotes of itself internationally. Our politicians boast of Mexico’s membership of the G20 and the OECD, yet the performance of the Mexican State in terms of health, education and per-capita income bottoms these lists, whereas most broadcasted –and internationally applauded- legal reforms are ill conceived and do not target these fundamental shortcomings of Mexican society. We ask the International community to add its weight to our demand that the recent crimes in Guerrero are solved and the culprits brought to justice, that e?ectiveand transparent investigations on all disappearances are conducted, that political malpractice is criminalised and curbed, and that a consensus is reached with the civil society to promote development through improving health, education and job opportunities, as the prioritised strategy to reduce violence and return Mexico to the rule of law. This plea is urgent, as both recent events and current o3cial rhetoric signal a hardening of the actions against students and the civil society, masked in the worn custom of “defence of the national institutions”.
Members of the Biological Sciences community of UNAM
They took them alive, we want them alive!
“Por mi raza hablará el espíritu”