Around 25 students and professors gathered at the doors of Olin Library Saturday afternoon for a die-in demonstration to bring awareness to the disappearance of 43 students in Iguala, Mexico last September.
Students lie in the lobby of Olin Library to draw attention to the one-year anniversary of the disappearance of 43 Mexican students. (DAVID NAVADEH / sun CONTRIBUTOR)
After gathering, demonstrators laid silently on the ground of the Olin lobby for a 43 second die-in. In addition to the die-in, the activists also held signs that read “Justicia para México” and “They tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds.”
Following the die-in, the demonstrators gathered in a circle outside of the library and shared stories on how important it is to keep these events in the public eye.
“We wanted Cornell students to realize that there are issues going on in the world and it’s important for them to speak out on them,” said Tiffany Fotopoulos ’18, one of the event organizers.
The demonstration took place exactly one year after the 43 students disappeared in Mexico. The students at the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College in Mexico were attacked while protesting education reforms in the city of Iguala on Sept. 26, 2014, according to The Associated Press.
The city was reported to be reducing the school curriculum and keeping teachers from receiving proper training, activists said at the event. They continued that it is believed that the Igualan government had the Guerreros Unidos Cartel attack the students to suppress the protests.
“Everything is connected, so more people should know about this because it is a global connection, not just a centralized Mexican individual event,” said Moises Ruiz ’18, whose father and paternal grandfather were born in Mexico. “There is a correlation between the possibilities that can occur here in the United States and that are actually occurring in Mexico.”
One of the main goals of the demonstration was to simply bring more attention to the events that happened in Mexico as well as to events that happen around the world, organizers of the die-in said.
“Since it happened a year ago I feel like it is starting to fade out,” Isabel Macias ’16 said. “If at least one person learns something about [the kidnappings], the demonstration is successful.”
While some of the demonstrators said it is hard for Cornell students to have a direct impact on reforming the Mexican government and excavating corruption, they believed that simply becoming educated on the topic is a step in the right direction.
“Events like the kidnapping should ignite a desire to educate yourself on how you can take your power and education to advocate for people who are oppressed,” said Julia Montejo ’17. “With that power comes a responsibility of taking what you learned in this position and putting it to practice.”
Education on the topic, the demonstrators hope, will push Cornell students to realize the parallels between the Mexican students and students at Cornell as well as the privileges of free speech that Cornell students can enjoy.
“We see here at Cornell various movements with the health insurance controversy and with the shootings across the United States,” Ruiz said. “In Mexico, students cannot do that. They tried, but where are they now?”