Rural Teachers Training School “Raúl Isidro Burgos” Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, Mexico, June 17th, 2015.
265 days after the forced disappearance of our 43 comrades by the Mexican State
Brothers and sisters of the Unceded
Coast Salish Territories, a.k.a. “Vancouver”, Canada
Comrades of the Committee (Collective)
Vancouver Solidarity with Ayotzinapa
First, we send you a greeting and a fraternal hug to the cold Canada from the 560 students who are still standing firm and strong with our combative Rural Teachers School “Raúl Isidro Burgos” of Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, and who await for our 43 detained-disappeared classmates on the sad night of the 26 and 27 of September 2014 in Iguala.
Second, we had thought about beginning our letter telling you what we know about the city of Vancouver and its history, but we realized that there are many things and terms that we, natives and peasants from the mountains of the Mexican southeast cannot comprehend or even pronounce. We were disheartened very very very much by our ignorance and we decided that instead of talking to you about things that many of you already know, we would talk to you about our history. Of what we are. Of what we will be and that of which we are proud of. Natives and peasants of this our Mexican southeast mountains, of our Mexico, of its land.
And this is how we were told by our elders, this is how they told us our history, because contrary to what many governments think, our history is over 89 years old… and it is this one…
Our school was founded on March 2nd 1926 in Tixtla de Guerrero, a small peasant and rural town, home of great men like Vicente Guerrero Saldaña and Ignacio Manuel Altamirano, both of poor origins. One the liberator of Mexico, the other an indigenous intellectual and poet.
However, on September 2nd 1930, Raúl Isidro Burgos looked at a desolating panorama when he received a new task in his professional career. When he was named director of the Rural Teachers School “Conrado Abúndez” (former name of our school), he received an institution that did not have its own building.
His antecesor, Rodolfo Bonilla, had achieved that the Junta de Beneficencia of Tixtla donated 7 hectares of land in what was formerly the ex-hacienda of Ayotzinapa. But the resources to construct the building were inexistent from the Ministry of Public Education (SEP).
The economic barriers were not an excuse for Burgos to start the work. The teacher asked for a personal loan from the Direction of Civil Pension for Retirement, and donated the money to start the construction of the awaited school. Teachers and students also donated part of their salaries and scholarships. On March 14th, 1932, Raúl isidro Burgos organized the move of the institution to the land that had been promised, where peasants, students and the teacher himself take it upon themselves to place each and every stone that gave life to the Teachers School of Ayotzinapa.
Since its beginnings, our school has had a Marxist-Leninist formation, and one of the requirements to have access to it is that the students are of scarce resources. A scholarship is assigned to each student, which covers their accommodation and food.
Since then our Rural Teachers School has formed men with a true compromise to have equal opportunities for all the kids and young people, who sadly engross the ranks of illiteracy, violence and organized crime in Guerrero. Due to this, we have a great opportunity to change the life of many of them because when we finish our studies, we move to the more marginalized areas of Mexico, which is where we teach how to read and write. That is the purpose of our school. That is the commitment of the Ayotzinapa teachers.
Sadly, this is the exact reason why we are not in the neoliberal plans of the country, this is the reason why in Guerrero students are murdered, precisely to prevent that free spirited young men enter our school and to close once and for all one of the most relevant and worth saving projects that emanated from the mexican revolution of 1910.
We are currently experiencing a coward attack by the state, as they are trying to close our school and in this way end with our movement, condemning our 43 disappeared comrades to oblivion. We want to ask you to please don’t leave us alone. Whichever are your possibilities, your times or your geographies, take a minute of your time to remember us. We very well know that our destiny might be marked by pain and sadness, but we have always had hope as our guide. We are also aware that oblivion only returns to those who give up their history. Rest assured that the ones who are here, are ready to defend our school. Even if we are not many, even if we are tired, even if we are sometimes consumed by despair, even if death embraces us, even if fear invades us… because, it’s hard for us to say it but… we are afraid, very much afraid.
Afraid of oblivion.
Afraid of time.
Afraid of desperation.
Afraid of not knowing what happened.
Afraid of knowing what happened.
Afraid of fear…
However, there is something that keeps us alive and helps us continue… and that something is you.
Because our elders tell a story here in the mexican southeast mountains, well, more like a tale, a fable, a legend or whatever you want to call it, because fortunately this story, tale, fable or legend can change according to whoever listens to it.
We were told once that a long time ago existed on earth great men and women who populated all the world, and that when they walked, mountains, hills, lakes and prairies were formed depending on the rhythm of their walk on the path, depending of the rhythm or colour of their feet.
And those great men and women were happy populating and walking the earth. Then one day, the Sun god asked them: “Why do you like to walk? Why do you not stay still like the tree or the rock?”, and the great men and women answered: “Sir, we walk because it is in our nature, we walk because our father has given us these lands, and they are ours and we walk on them”. The Sun god understood that the nature of men is what defines them, if you are a giant or a dwarf, if you are a man or a woman, the end goal you pursue will determine how long your road will be.
Our path is long, but our end will be glorious. This is why we love and we fight for our school, so that tomorrow when our 43 comrades are back we can finish the road. Maybe we don’t run, but we go slow because we are going far.
On April 10th 1971, Raúl Isidro Burgos died in Mexico City and today his remains rest in our Teachers School, which currently bears his name and where our 43 young brothers were being formed in the principles that our teacher used as foundation with the goal of educating a country.
It has been 44 years since that afternoon of 1970 when Burgos transmitted to his students of the generation 1964-1970 the ideals that education in Mexico should follow: “Let’s plant the seeds of freedom in the virgin field of the young ones hearts (…) The duty is to teach our students to be free.”
Over 89 years later that is still our goal. Educate not to obey, but to be free. The education is the only weapon to defeat poverty, marginalization, violence and illiteracy with which we grow up, we the people from below. We the smallest of these lands. The forgotten. The peasants. The natives. The ones who live, are born and die in this sad corner of the world we call home.
For this reasons and many other that we might not fit in this lines, and in the name of:
The 560 students who are still standing firm and strong in our combative Rural Teachers School “Raúl Isidro Burgos” of Ayotzinapa, Guerrero.
We want to tell you, thank you very much. Because even though small, our light will be a form of embracing all those who are missing today and those who suffer from their absence. May this light show that we are not alone in the pain and rage that dresses the floor of the Mexico from below.
And it is not with words that we embrace our comrades, those who at night put backpack and history on their backs, those who grabbed the lightning and the thunder in their hands, those who wore the boots without future, those who covered their faces and names, those who, without expecting anything in return, died in the long night so that others, everyone, in a morning yet to come, can look at the day how it should be looked at: face to face, standing and with the eyes and heart upright and proud.
For them neither biographies nor museums.
For them our memory and rebellion.
For them our outcry:
Justice! Justice! JUSTICE!
BECAUSE ALIVE THEY TOOK THEM, ALIVE WE WANT THEM BACK!!!
From the Rural Teachers School “Raúl Isidro Burgos” of Ayotzinapa, Guerrero.
Honourable Students Executive Committee “Ricardo Flores Magon”
P.S.: By the way, “Ayotzinapa” means place of turtles, and for that reason our mascot is a turtle. Actually, during the rainy season they are always on the hallways biting the feet of one or two distracted guys. Hehehe
P.S. 2: We received the $118,331.50 pesos. We know about the purchase of a computer for our spokesperson Omar García, which we are highly grateful for. The comrades from H.I.J.O.S. helped in making sure we got $78,357.50 pesos the first time and $22,374.00 pesos the second time on May 2nd.
P.D. 3: Please read this letter to as many people as possible in Canada.