By MARIANNE NACANAYNAY, age 12, and IndyKids Staff

Young protestors in Mexico holding a sign that says, "The families demand that their sons are found." PHOTO: kinoluiggi/Flickr
Young protesters in Mexico holding a sign that says, “The families demand that their sons are found.” PHOTO: kinoluiggi/Flickr

On September 26, 2014, 43 students training to become teachers at Raul Isidro Burgos Rural Normal School of Ayotzinapa near the city of Iguala, Guerrero, in southern Mexico were declared missing after being attacked by local police.

The students were mostly campesinos (rural farm workers) who were studying at the school to become teachers in their communities. Rural normal schools in Mexico were established in the early 1900s after the Mexican Revolution in order to increase literacy and education in rural areas. The Raul Isidro Burgos Rural Normal School has a long history of activism, and their students frequently participate in protests against government corruption, state violence and recent education reforms.

Families of the missing students still insist that their children are alive and need to be found. After meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Epifanio Alvarez, the father of one missing student, was frustrated by the government’s limited response: “This meeting is the same as always. There really is no answer from anyone.”

Government, police and military officials have been tied to the crime. The mayor of Iguala and his wife were arrested on November 4, suspected of being involved. The police chief of Iguala, who is also believed to be connected, is on the run. “The president has to take responsibility,” said Emiliano Navarrete, another father of one of the students.

Since the students’ disappearance, there have been massive demonstrations throughout Mexico and in major global cities calling for justice. Protesters say that it is one of many cases that show how closely government officials are often tied to violence. Bernardo Hernandez, one of the many protesters critical of the government, said, “We have had enough of these corrupt puppets. It is time we put in politicians who have a basic level of honesty and respond to what we want.”