Op-Ed: “Rotten to the Core” by Robert Morales


What has taken place in the Mexican state of Guerrero with 43 missing college students is beyond outrage. There are simply not enough adjectives to aptly put this despicable act of lawlessness into perspective.

Recently, we published an editorial, “Why Mexico Will Never Be A First-World Country” on our opinion page. We didn’t mention the kidnapping and most likely, the murders, of 43 college students who were studying to be teachers.

These students, believing they had the freedom of speech to raise money for a protest in the town of Iguala, made a grave mistake. The wife of the mayor of Iguala, Maria de los Angeles Piñeda, was scheduled to deliver a speech later in the day, and she learned about the 43 students who were traveling to Iguala to protest. She told her husband she would have none of it, and the rest of the story remains unknown.

However, because we are talking about Mexico, we can safely make some assumptions.  The mayor, Jose Luis Abarca and his wife, Maria, were known as the “imperial couple” because they lived a life of privilege. Not because they had earned it, but because this is how business is conducted in one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

When the mayor’s wife found out that her speech that was going to be delivered later in the evening could possibly be disrupted by a handful of college students she viewed as rogues, she alerted her husband, and that’s when things got out of control.

According to news reports, Mayor Abarca told his municipal police to arrest the students upon their arrival into Iguala. Although the details of the story remain sketchy, it is very likely that Abarca gave instructions to his corrupt police department to do whatever the officers thought was “appropriate” with the students so that they didn’t disrupt the mayor’s wife speech.

Today, it appears that the municipal police handed the 43 students over to a drug cartel known as the Guerreros Unidos. Based upon what we know transpired in Ciudad Júarez a few years ago, we can deduce that the cartel “took care” of the students.

Since the story broke in late September, news reports have told us that Abarca regularly paid the Guerrreros Unidos gang between $150,000 and $200,000 for police pay-offs, a sum that is unheard of even here in the United States. How did he have access to that amount of money? The answer is simple. In Mexico, the way to have total control of the “peons” is to align oneself to the most corrupt elements in the country. In this case, it’s the formidable drug cartels.

Mayor Abarca and his wife were recently arrested on the outskirts of Mexico City, as the Advocate reported last week. The Guerrero state Congress has impeached Abarca in response to the public outcry.

This is a huge story. Last week, we visited with a local businesssman, Armando Hernandez, the proprietor of a local grocery and general store on Broadway. We asked him what he thought about the abduction of the 43 students because he is a Mexican national. Mr. Hernandez understands the Mexican psyche. His response and his expression to the question spoke volumes.

“It is horrendous,” he said. “It’s an outrage. This goes beyond the pale. The reaction you are seeing from the parents and from the public tell me that this story isn’t going away. I’ve never seen anything like it in my lifetime. The people of Mexico have every right to expect better, but once again, their government has failed them.”

Perhaps the most difficult question that has been asked by parents of the missing 43 students is how could this happen to these young people who have worked so hard to make a difference in a country that is mostly impoverished?

The 43 students represented a new generation of youth that were willing to take a stand against authority in an effort to better themselves, and eventually, in the lives of those younger students that they would eventually teach.

Media reports in Mexico are always suspect because there is no such thing as a “free press” or a First Amendment. When news leaks to the various news agencies in Mexico, we can be fairly certain that it is being leaked at the very highest levels of government, and that includes the president.

A few days ago, Attorney General Jesus Murillo, held a news conference in Mexico City announcing that two suspects had led authorities to trash bags of what was believed to be the incinerated remains of the missing students. Murillo’s public announcement about incinerated bodies was what parents of the missing students were most dreading because the news was most likely true.

To make matters worse, a reporter asked Murillo a follow-up question, and the attorney general responded with a completely inappropriate answer. “Enough. I am tired.” He left the podium. This response infuriated reporters as well as the public after it was broadcast on national television in Mexico and the rest of the world.

Murillo’s insensitivity and coldness is why Mexicans are tired of their government. Officials such as Murillo and Mayor Abarca believe they are privileged and that they can treat the lower classes with disdain.

As Mr. Hernandez said, this story isn’t going away, and it shouldn’t. The entire world is looking down upon Mexico, and demanding answers.
As we suggested in our editorial recently, Mexico will never be a first-world country, and this incident helps seal that perception.


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