Over 2,000 miles away, Seattleites are banding together to call for justice on behalf of 43 Mexican college students who have been missing since September 26.
The students were last seen being arrested in an effort to prevent a public protest in Iguala, Mexico. Mexican authorities report that they believe the students were then handed over to members of the drug cartel Guerreros Unidos.
Jose Luis Abarca, who left his post as mayor of Iguala in the wake of the incident, is suspected of ordering the arrests to prevent the students from interfering with a public speech by his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda. On Tuesday morning, the couple was arrested.
“I hope it has some impact,” said Scott Macklin, Associate Director of the Master of Communication in Communication Leadership at the University of Washington, in regards to the arrest. “It will remain to be seen how that unfolds — if they can be held culpable and responsible for their roles.” Macklin explained that the arrest is only a step toward change.
In Mexico City and around the world, citizens have banded together in protest since the day of the kidnapping, demanding the safe return of these students, who many have assumed to be dead.
Sarahy Sigie, a graduate student in the University of Washington’s Communication Leadership Program who is originally from Guadalajara, Mexico, recently witnessed a protest in front of the Mexican Consulate in Seattle. She has compiled a video surrounding the demonstration, and has been monitoring local and international activity surrounding the 43 victims.
“This is heartbreaking,” Sigie says. “Politics in Mexico have been interesting for a long time now. This is the first time that media and people are getting tired of people going missing.”
Sigie explains that it is important for attention to be brought to the issue, even from such distances as Seattle.
“There is an intersection between politics, organized crime, and drug dealers,” Sigie says about Mexico. “We might not be doing much right here in Seattle, but at least we are being conscious to start making people think about what’s going on.”
Macklin, who is a part of the Seattle Fandango Project, has been part of protests in Seattle calling attention to the missing students, as well as the vast number of missing persons, in Mexico. The goal, he explains, is to bring attention to the atrocities that are taking place in Mexico, and offer some form of condolence to the families of the victims.
“How do we understand justice in this world?” Macklin asked. “What is our role? Even though we are thousands of miles away, the understanding is that we all have a role to play, and justice can be evolved in our local and international communities.”
The capture of the mayor and his wife does not end or resolve the issue.
Another demonstration is planned for Wednesday, Nov. 5th at 12:30 p.m. in front of the Mexican Consulate in Seattle.