EspañolYes, it was the state, it has been the state, and unfortunately, it will probably be the state sometime again in the near future. The majority of crimes against humanity are perpetrated by the state. Adolf Hitler, Mao, Lenin, Pol Pot, and military regimes the world over are just a few examples of authoritarian regimes that have demonstrated a penchant for massacring their own citizens. At one point in time, all of the these regimes have embodied the phrase: it was the state.
Several Mexican families shout this painful cry as they mourn the 43 missing Aytozinapa students, who the state presumes dead. I will be honest: I don’t know the details of the attack. I know it was the state who was responsible for the crime, through the Iguala mayor and his wife. Was it a crime of power? Impunity? Arrogance? Ignorance?
I don’t have the slightest idea what would cause this couple to disappear 43 students, thinking there would not be any consequences for their actions. This is no longer the Latin America of the 20th century. Forty three students can’t just simply disappear without their family and friends calling for justice. Forty three students can’t disappear without an entire country calling for justice.
It was the state is a phrase that Mexicans shout in the streets to express their indignation. It is also a phrase we should never forget when we demand that the state protect our rights. The more power that is concentrated in the hands of the state, the more abuses it will commit.
“Ya me cansé” (I’m tired of this) is the phrase the Mexican state prosecutor used to close his press conference to update the media on the search for the missing students, and it soon began trending on Twitter.
We are all tired of this. I’m tired of all the violence that surrounds me and those who live in countries ravaged by the drug war. Violence that makes us want to pack our bags and emigrate to a place where we can do things as normal as walk down the street without fear of being robbed or murdered. I am tired of this absurd war, where profits help destroy the rights of ordinary Latin Americans. I am tired of the state abusing its power.
I know deep down that we are the same citizens that ignore this type of horrible news, just so we can continue on with our daily lives. And this type of behavior only deepens the cycle of violence.
“What kind of harvest will come to a country that plants bodies?” read one protester’s sign during a recent demonstration. My answer to her is: violence and pain.
Blocking it Out
“How can a country continue living if 43 of its students have gone missing?” a friend of mine asked me.
Given my experience in El Salvador, where 11 people are murdered everyday, I replied: “People ignore the news. They block it out.”
Shortly after answering her, I asked myself when I became numb to all of this. When did rational ignorance take over, and I began avoiding it all? When did murdered human beings turn into numbers? How can someone live among such high levels of violence, and continue to live a normal life?
My friend was right. It’s not normal to block these things out. I have been ignoring the news of the massacre in Mexico, but I can’t continue to do so; just as I can’t continue to ignore the violence in El Salvador.
I can’t even begin to provide answers to all of these problems. I may never have them, but I know my silence is not helping anyone.
But, at the very least, I am happy to see Mexicans protesting the disappearance of 43 of their students. Protests bring an end to citizen silence and limit the power of the state.
It was the state is a phrase that should never be forgotten, because the state has been responsible for the worst atrocities in mankind’s history.