I have been away in Spain for the last two months and so haven’t had the means of making my Ayotzinapa portraits but there hasn’t been a day when I haven’t thought about the boys and their parents. Every morning, as I walked up the Cuesta Palero, I would take photos of the wild flowers. I especially love the blue chicory flowers (Cichorium intybus) and planned to use these in an Ayotzinapa piece, and so now I have. The flowers are illusively shy and don’t like the heat so are only open between 8.30 in the morning and are then tightly closed, like they never existed, by 11.30 am.
This portrait is of Jorge Antonio Tizapa Legideño who was 19 years old when he was forcibly disappeared alongside 42 other students training to be teachers at the Escuela Rural Normal “Raúl Isidros Burgos” in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero. He is now 20, his birthday is on the 7th of June. Neither of his parents, José Antonio and Hilda, have had any news of him although they campaign tirelessly for answers. Messages on his Facebook account from friends who miss him and struggle to deal with his absence, mark the months since his disappearance on the 26th of September 2014.
His mother, Hilda, in an interview for desInformémonos describes how Jorge Antonio has a little dent in his cheek, but that it doesn’t show up on any of the photos of him. She talks about how he is a loving father to his daughter, Naomi, who is just a year and a half old. She also relates that he worked as a bus driver on the Atliaca/Tixtla route, that he loves driving and that he used to have a motorbike.
Jorge Antonio loves music, especially the songs of the Sinaloan band, La Arolladora Banda El Limón de René Camacho. I have used some lines from one of their songs, “Contigo”, in this piece.
Jorge Antonio’s father, José Antonio, had to emigrate to the US 14 years ago to support his wife Hilda and their three children. He lives in New York and spoke as part of the Caravana 43, which toured the US earlier this year to raise awareness of the case. Jorge Antonio was only five when his father left but he always kept in touch, mainly thanks to modern technology. He is heartbroken by his son’s disappearance and like Hilda, just wants to see him again. He calls for President Obama to abandon Plan Mérida, a security agreement between the US and Mexico intended to combat drug smuggling. There are fears that the many of the weapons funded by P.M. end up in the hands of drug cartels, like Guerreros Unidos, a criminal gang who are implicated in the disappearance of the 43 students and the death of three. You can watch an interview with José Antonio on Democracy Now here. Hilda has has spoken to MEPs at the European Parliament as part of Caravana 43’s visit to Europe. She toured Canada too and in Ottowa said “Everything that I am doing here I’m doing out of love for my son.”