3/16/2015 The Nation
brutal surge of violence is the greatest surprise of Mexico’s 21st century. There hasn’t been anything like it since the Mexican Revolution, which was rich in similar atrocities: killings and massacres, kidnappings, street crime, plundering, extortion. More than a million people were killed during the revolutionary years of 1910 to 1920. Between 2007 and 2014, more than 164,000 Mexicans were killed.
The last straw for many Mexicans came in September 2014, in the town of Iguala, with the disappearance and probable murder of 43 students from the nearby teachers’ college of Ayotzinapa. The tragedy was the work of an alliance between a narco gang, the police, and corrupt politicians. People throughout much of the country were furious. “It’s the government that foments violence,” said Francisco Toledo, Mexico’s greatest contemporary visual artist. There have been many other massacres in recent years, like the killing of 72 migrants in San Fernando, Tamaulipas, in 2010, or at least 52 murdered at the Casino Royal in Monterrey in 2011. But none had the national and international impact of Iguala—perhaps because it happened in Guerrero, one of the country’s poorest and most violent states, or perhaps because the victims were students, kindred spirits of those massacred in the Tlatelolco plaza of Mexico City in 1968 during the government crackdown on student protests.