Your pain is our pain
Your pain is our pain
Josue Rivas / OC Weekly

Santa Ana Joins Nationwide Ayotzinapa Vigils Drawing Attention to U.S. Role in Mexico

The story of 43 missing Mexican students from Ayotzinapa, Guerrero refuses to disappear, as their whereabouts still remain a mystery more than two months after local police clashed with them on September 26. Anger continues to fuel protests in Mexico against the government over corruption, violence and ties to narcos. And on this side of the border, activists are holding their own rallies and bringing attention to the cause.

Now comes a coordinated nationwide effort: #USTired2, in which activists in 43 cities (including SanTana) will light a candle this Wednesday and tell the story of the 43. The national day of action demands an end to the U.S. funding of the Mexican government through the Mérida Initiative, also known as Plan Mexico.

"Our government is the primary political patron of the rogue and universally repudiated administration of Enrique Peña Nieto," says San Francisco-based #USTired2 lead organizer Roberto Lovato. The hashtag takes its cue from Mexicans turning their Attorney General's infamous "Ya me cansé" ("I'm tired of this") comments regarding press questions about the Ayotzinapa disappearances into a rallying call.

Started by President George W. Bush, Plan Mexico got underway with congressional funding in 2008. Since then, the Mexican government has received $2.4 billion in U.S. taxpayer money to beef up its security forces to combat drug trafficking. President Barack Obama requested $115 million more in his effort to continue the partnership indefinitely. Critics argue its effects are nothing short of disastrous.

"Plan Mexico has resulted in more than 100,000 people murdered in widespread violence," Lovato argues. "There's a link between the increased arming of the Mexican government and the increase in murders in Mexico. There are more than 25,000 people disappeared."

It's a link that isn't often reported in U.S. media. "Even though the degree to which people in Mexico are fed up with corruption and violence is coming through, the media isn't doing a good job of representing the depth of that," says Luis Sarmiento, a volunteer with El Centro Cultural de México. "They specifically don't make any connection with the politics of the U.S. towards Mexico that contributes to the violence."

The call to have 43 cities each light a candle and tell the story of the 43 disappeared students of Ayotzinapa went out just three weeks ago. Since then, the response has been tremendous. Locally organized by el Centro, Wednesday's affiliated action in downtown SanTana will take place at Sasscer Park (on the corner of 5th and Ross Streets) around 4 p.m.

"We are going to have music and testimonies of people speaking on how the disappearance of the 43 students affected them directly and indirectly," Sarmiento says. "This general awakening of people, not just in Mexico and the U.S., but around the world, is an opportunity for important connections to be made."

For Lovato, the mass graves in Guerrero, Tamaulipas, Chihuahua and other Mexican states resonates with his memory as a Salvadoran during that country's bloody civil war in the 80's. "I remember what mass graves smell like, what a mother screaming for her children sounds like," he says. "That brings this home to a personal and physical level. It twists my stomach."

The outrage over Ayotzinapa and all it symbolizes marks an expansion of the Mexican and Latino political mind according to Lovato. Immigration and the Drug War in Mexico can no longer remain separate domestic and foreign policy issues.

Will Know Nothings connect the dots in their own way? "They're hating Mexicans because they're migrating to the U.S., and they're also paying for the terror and violence that's sending them here?" he reasons.

Mexican security forces are stained by the blood, not just cartels. "The need to end Plan Mexico is part of the larger need to end the Drug War once and for all," Lovato concludes.

"That's going to end. We have to end it. There is no choice."

Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @gsanroman2

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