This past Thursday, September 26, 2019, marked the fifth anniversary of the disappearance of 43 students from the Escuela Normal Rural Raúl Isidro Burgos in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, Mexico. Amidst the pain and confusion of their absence, their families and the world continue to await justice to this day. The unanswered questions behind the students’ attack and subsequent forced disappearance by Mexican security forces have had no avail from the responsible parties. In an effort to keep the search for answers alive, the Center for Latin American Studies and Stanford Libraries organized “Hasta encontrarlos: Remembering the Disappeared Ayotzinapa Students.”
This remembrance event was held in Stanford Green Library from 12:00 pm to exactly 12:43pm as a symbolic statement of the importance of every single one of the 43 disappeared students. Stanford affiliates and members of the surrounding community gathered silently to listen to Mexican poet David Huerta's powerful "AYOTZINAPA," read aloud in ENGLISH by Jacqueline Becerra, B.A. ’23, and in its original SPANISH by Stanford Library Specialist and poet Everardo G. Rodriguez. Before his reading, Rodriguez invited attendees to reflect on the fact that the students were not only studying to become teachers, but rural ones who are given far fewer resources than others in the same profession.
In shaping the event, Adan Griego, Stanford Curator for Latin American, Iberian & Mexican American Collections, did justice to Huerta’s verse “Quien esto lea debe saber también / que a pesar de todo / los muertos no se han ido / ni los han hecho desaparecer (Whoever reads this must also know / That in spite of all / The dead have neither gone / Nor been made to disappear)" by having student volunteers read aloud all 43 of the students' names. Following the sobering reading of the names, Griego showed a brief video clip of the students working at their school shortly before they went missing and, as a true curator, displayed an array of rare items produced in response to the disappearance of the students. These items, acquired by the Stanford Libraries' Special Collections, include an original special edition of Huerta's poem, Lorena Velazquez’ impactful accordion book Cuarenta y tres, and various hand-made cartonero books. The importance of not just these resources, but of the lives that inspired them, was heightened by the special photography portfolio Desaparecen that was carefully displayed by Peter Blank, Stanford Libraries Photography Curator, at the end of the event.
Through this meaningful audio-visual experience, “Hasta encontrarlos: Remembering the Disappeared Ayotzinapa Students” emphasized that the emblematic nature of the number 43, and the young lives it represents, will continue to serve as a reminder that humanity has not forgotten, nor will it ever, that justice is yet to be served.
Special thanks to the event organizers, participants, and attendees for helping us keep the search for justice alive. In the words of Matt Marostica, Associate University Librarian for Public Services and Collection Development, as he opened the event, "The impunity of state actors must stop."
We invite readers to say their names: