Adán Abraján de la Cruz

Yp, Jan Nimmo, Glasgow, Escocia, quier saber dónde está Adán Abraján de la Cruz: Digital art: Jan Nimmoo ©

Yo, Jan Nimmo, Glasgow, Escocia, quiero saber dónde está Adán Abraján de la Cruz. Portrait: Kan Nimmo ©

Adán Abraján de la Cruz is from el Fortín, a barrio of Tixtla in Guerrero. He was forcibly disappeared on the 26th Sept 2014 along with another 42 students who were studying with him at the Normalista School at Ayotzinapa. He is married to Érica and is the father of two children, José Luis and Alison.

I read that Adán loves to play football and then learned from a couple of his team mates (thanks to the Tixtla Facebook page who helped me find them) that his team plays in the Las Chivas strip. Las Chivas is the popular name for Mexican football team, Club Deportivo Guadalajara. Adán played for Los Pirotécnicos de Fortín and for the Vaqueros de Fortín too. I have included a quote from his team captain, Christiam: “Lastima mi Adán me iso ganar un trofeo era mi portero” – “What a shame about Adán, he helped me win a trophy – he was my goalkeeper”.

Over the last 10 months football stadiums have been the arena to express solidarity with the 43 disappeared students. Mexican footballers like Miguel “El Piojo”, a player for the Mexican national team, have shown 4 and 3 fingers to the fans while crowds have carried massive banners in protest of what has taken place. Real Madrid forward, Javier “Chicharito” Hernández tweeted a black and white selfie with the hashtags:  #TodosSomosAyotzinapa #UnidosPorAyotzinapa.  More in an article here.

When I googled “Ayotzinapa” and “futból” I was surprised to see that even at Liverpool matches there were fans carrying a large banner in protest at what happened to the 43 students in Iguala. And I love this image of solidarity from a women’s football team from the barrio Güemes, Buenos Aires, Argentina (from the blog Southern Perspectives).

La Nuestra Fútbol Femenino, Barrio Güemes, Villa 31, Buenos Aires, Argentina, en apoyo a familiares de los normalistas secuestrados en México.

La Nuestra Fútbol Femenino, Barrio Güemes, Villa 31, Buenos Aires, Argentina, en apoyo a familiares de los normalistas secuestrados en México. (Southern Perspectives ©)

Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano, commenting on the murder of Colombian defender Andrés Escobar in 1994 said. 

“Violence is not in the genes of the people who love to celebrate and are wild about the joys of music and soccer. Colombians suffer from violence like a disease, but they don’t wear it like a birthmark on their foreheads. The machinery of power, on the other hand, is indeed the cause of violence: as in all of Latin America, injustice and humiliation poison people’s souls”.

He was talking about Colombia but sadly the same applies to Mexico. Now there is a team missing a goalkeeper and a family missing their dad, husband and son.


Don Bernabé Abraján, father of Adán. Photo: Clayton Conn


Erica, Adan’s wife. Photo: Alejandro Ayala


José Ángel Campos Cantor


Yo, Jan Nimmo, Glasgow, Escocia, quiero saber dónde está José Ángel Campos Cantor. Digital art: Jan Nimmo ©

Like many of his 42 fellow students, who were disappeared along with José Ángel on the 26th of September 2014, he loved to play football but, as his father explains, when he went to study at the Normalista school in Ayotzinapa he didn’t get much time to play as he was studying hard to become a teacher. Of the 43 students who are missing José Ángel is the oldest at 33 years old. He is popular with his fellow students.

José Ángel plays saxophone and plays in a “Chile Frito” (Fried Chilli) band, typical of Guerrero. These are the brass and drum bands that accompany local fiestas and dances with lively sones and chilenas. I have used the lyrics from a chilena, El Toro Rabón, in the portrait (Lyrics below). The song was written by a well known Guerrense composer, José Agustín Ramírez Altamirano, once a normalista student himself. José Ángel  loves corridos (popular narrative songs) and dancing to cumbia with his wife, Blanca González Cantú. He and Blanca have have two girls: América and Gabriela or “Gaby”. Since her father was disappeared América, who is 8 years old, has had to help her mum out, and everyday she sets up a small table with sweets, chewing gum and chicharrones (pork scratchings) to sell outside their house. Gaby had her first birthday on the 29th of July. She was just one month old when José Ángel was disappeared. His grandmother, Petra, died on the 30th July, without knowing the fate of her grandson.

El Toro Rabón

Por toda la Costa Chica
se baila el Toro Rabón,
si esa víbora te pica
te queda la comezón,
no hay remedio en la botica
ni tampoco curación.

Qué bonitas, qué bonitas
son las costas de Guerrero,
de mujeres sensitivas,
hombres fuertes y de acero,
de mujeres sensitivas,
hombres fuertes y de acero.

Cotorra del pico chueco,
prima hermana del perico,
si denuncias mis amores
que me traje de Tampico,
te he de correr de mi milpa
y si no, te tuerzo el pico.

Una aguililla chillona
me quiso tronar el pico,
yo le contesté: pelona,
no soy pobre ni soy rico,
soy puritito costeño,
no me agrando ni me achico.

Qué bonitas, qué bonitas
son las costas de Guerrero,
de mujeres sensitivas,
hombres fuertes y de acero,
de mujeres sensitivas,
hombres fuertes y de acero.

Yo soy el toro rabón
que habito en la serranía,
dejo de pasearme un año
por pasearme noche y día,
como soy becerro de año
no habito en la pastoría.

Qué bonitas, qué bonitas
son las costas de Guerrero,
de mujeres sensitivas,
hombres fuertes y de acero,
de mujeres sensitivas,
hombres fuertes y de acero.

José Agustín Ramírez Altamirano

Listen to Banda Los Morales – El Toro Rabon

or to Dueto Caleta – El Toro Rabon

Christian Tomás Colón Garnica

Yo, Jan Nimmo, Glasgow, Escocia, quiero saber dónde está Christian Tomás Colón Garnica. Digital art: Jan Nimmo ©

Christian Tomás Colón Garnica, a student at the Raúl Isidro Burgos Normalista Teacher Training School, Ayotzinapa, Guerrero is from La Zapoteca, a poor barrio of Tlacolula. Tlacolula is in Oaxaca State, a southern neighbour of Guerrero. Christian went to study in Ayotzinapa because his parents could not afford for him to continue studying at home and in going to the Normailsta school he would have the opportunity to continue studying and have bed and board provided while he was there.

In an interview for Oaxaca Quadratin his sister in-law, Juana Pérez Gómes, describes how the family have been absent from home as they have been searching for Christian since he was forcibly disappeared along with 42 of his fellow students on the 26th of September 2014. This has meant that the only income to support the family has come from what they earn from a modest little shop. His father is a labourer who earns £28 a week. All of the disappeared Normalista students come from low income families so there will have been many sacrifices along the way in the search for their missing sons. That said, in a show of solidarity, the residents of the barrio, who are just as poor as Christian’s family, along with the local authority in Tlacolula and community members, collected money to help with the parents’ travel expenses to Chilpancingo and Iguala. Read more about it in this article in Imparcial Oaxaca, here.

Christian’s family have searched Guerrero, and, like all the other parents, want him home alive. They are people of faith and hope that their prayers to the Virgin will be answered.

In this piece I have used a background image from the stone carvings from the Mixtec ae-archeological site at Mitla not far from Tlacolula. I first passed through there with my husband, Paul, many years ago now, and vividly remember the bus journey through Tlacolula on the way to the site at Mitla… we had visited Teotitlan del Valle and Santa María del Tule to see the 2000 year old tree there. In the top right hand corner I have incorporated Paul’s sketch of that journey which he made in his diary. In subsequent trips I stayed in the city of Oaxaca and each day visited the small towns round and about the Valle Central making sure that my visits coincided with market days or cattle fairs. The markets are good place to meet people selling anything from fruits and vegetables to handmade objects. In the portrait I have included the image of an alebrije style carved wooden lizard which I bought on one of these trips.

Tlacolula-Mitla. Drawing: Paul Barham ©

Tlacolula-Mitla. Drawing: Paul Barham ©

This spring a Mexican student, Ramiro, contacted me from Eugene, Oregon, USA regarding an event that he and others at Eugene4Ayotzinapa were planning to host with Normalista parents during their awareness raising tour of the States, Caravana 43. He had seen the portraits I was making on the internet and wondered if I would be happy for them to use my portraits for their event. I was, of course, both delighted and moved, so agreed and sent him the files. The great thing about making digital art is that it can be uploaded and printed anywhere. When I finish the portraits I hope to be able to work with Eugene4Ayotzinapa to have aware raising exhibitions in High Schools there.

Ramiro told me he was from Oaxaca, and it was only after I had published the portrait of Christian online that Ramiro got back to me and told me that he too was from Tlacolula. He might be far away from his home town but he is demonstrating the same spirit of solidarity as his fellow townsfolk in Tlacolula.

In the portrait I have incorporated the lyrics of a famous Mexican song, Canción Mixteca, a song for the homesick, for those sad to be far from their homeland, the beautiful Central Vally of Oaxaca, La Tierra del Sol (land of the sun).

Canción Mixteca

Que lejos estoy del suelo
Donde he nacido.
Inmensa nostalgia
Invade mi pensamiento.
Y al verme tan solo y triste
Cual hoja el viento.
Quisiera llorar,Quisiera morir
De sentimiento.

Oh! tierra del sol
Suspiro por verte.
Ahora que lejos
Yo vivo sin luz.
Sin amor.
Y al verme
Tan solo y triste
Cual hoja el viento
Quisiera llorar,Quisiera morir
De sentimiento.

Miguel Aceves Mejía

Mixtec Song

How far I am from the soil
Where I was born.
Immense nostalgia
Invades my thoughts.
And seeing myself so alone and sad
Like a leaf in the wind.
I would like to cry, I would like die
of sorrow.

Oh! Land of the sun
I long to see you.
Now that I live to far away
I live without light
Without love.
And seeing myself so alone and sad
Like a leaf in the wind.
I would like to cry, I would like die
of sorrow.

Miguel Aceves Mejía

There are hundreds of versions of this song but here you can listen to the version I heard first – Antonio Agular (Thanks, Julie Oxberry) – or listen to a Oaxacan marimba version from Marimba Oaxaca.

Marco Antonio Gómez Molina


Yo, Jan Nimmo, Glasgow Escocia, quiero saber dónde está Marco Antonio Gómez Molina. Digital Art: Jan Nimmo©

Marco Antonio is from Tixtla in Guerrero. His nickname is Tuntún and he was 20 years old at the time of his disappearance last September. His fellow students at the Normalista school “Raúl Isidro Burgos” in Ayotzinapa describe how he loves rock music and how one of his favorites is the Spanish rock band Saratoga. I have used the lyrics from one of their songs, Manos Unidas/Joined Hands, for this digital collage. Seven months have passed and we still don’t know the whereabouts of Marco Antonio and the other 42 Normalista students who were disappeared in Iguala on the night of the 26th of September 2014. The theme of Normalista students being targets in the series of portraits is a recurrent one.

No hay olvido.

Manos Unidas

Azul un mar azul
Tan intenso como esa luz fugaz
Que hay en tu cara
No hay nada mejor
Que sentir tu aire fresco resbalar
Por mis heridas
Sueño con un final
Me hundo en la oscuridad
Y le pido a Dios
Verte una vez más
Sin trampa ni cartón
Como el gesto de aquel niño que un día fui
Y sigo siendo
El tiempo confirmó
Que mi vida sólo importa si estás tú
Siempre conmigo
Horas de soledad
Generan esta ansiedad
Como el girasol
Muere si no estás
Las manos unidas
Sentir tu calor
Juntos para caminar
Juntos para soportar
Juntos para comenzar
Mil aventuras
Vivos para compartir
Vivos para discutir
Vivos para construir
Locos por vivir
Sólo una cosa más
Quiero manifestar
Que gracias a ti
Pude ser quién soy

[Letra y música: Jerónimo Ramiro]

Joined Hands

Blue, a blue sea
Intense like that fleeting light
On your face
There’s nothing better
Than feeling your cool air slip
Over my wounds
I dream of the end
I sink in the darkness
I  ask of God
That I will see you again
The real you
Like the gesture of that child I once was
And still am
And time confirms
That my life only matters if you are around
Always with me
Hours of solitude
Cause this anxiety
Like a sunflower
I die if you’re not around
Our hands joined
Feeling your warmth
Walking together
Coping together
Starting together
A thousand adventures
Living to share
Living to disagree
Living to build
Mad for life
There’s only one more thing
I want to say
That thanks to you
I could be who I am.

[Lyrics: Jerónimo Ramiro]

José Luis Luna Torres


Yo, Jan Nimmo, Glasgow, Escocia, quiero saber dónde está Jose Luis Luna Torres. Digital Art: Jan Nimmo©

José Luis Torres is from a small indigenous town, Amilcingo, in the Mexican State of Morelos, close to the border with Puebla. José Luis was unable to study locally so he matriculated at the Escuela Normal “Raúl Isidro Burgos” in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero.

His mother, Macedonia, describes herself as both mother and father to her children, as she is a widow with 7 children. She makes ends meet by roasting and selling peanuts and elotes (sweetcorn).

Before José Luis was forcibly disappeared along with 42 fellow students in Iguala, on the 26th Sept 2014, he’d help his mother out roasting peanuts, amongst other chores. He worked on the land or as a builder’s mate. The family struggles to get by. His brother, Sósimo describes how his José Luis wants to get an education so that he’ll be in a better position to help the family out. He and his brother are just like two peas in a pod.

Jose Luis is one of six Moralenses that went to study in Ayotzinapa. Two of his fellow students, Carlos and Armando, were present on the night when police attacked the students. Carlos says that at first he thought the bullets were rubber bullets. They recall the chaos; everyone running to escape and not one but two balaceras (shootings). Armando wonders aloud about where is his classmates are, what has happened to them, his voice trembles as he speaks.

Jose Luis’s sister, Marisol, describes his disappearance and the feeling of not knowing his whereabouts as being like “dying little by little”.

Making this portrait has coincided with the death of Uruguayan writer, Eduardo Galeano, from whom I learned so much about Latin America. I have included some lines from his poem “Los Nadies” – “The Nobodies” (at the bottom of this post). José Luis is someone, not nobody. A name not a number.

On the 4th of December 2014 Galeano wrote in La Jornada about Ayotzinapa:

I read and I share.

The orphans of the Ayotzinapa tragedy aren’t alone in the persistent search for their loved ones, lost in the chaos of the burning rubbish dumps and graves full of human remains.

They are accompanied by the voices of solidarity and their warming presence across the whole map of Mexico and further afield, including the football stadia where players celebrate their goals drawing the number 43 with their fingers in the air, in homage to the 43 disappeared.

Meanwhile, the President, Peña Nieto, recently returned from China, warns, in a threatening tone, that he hopes that he won’t have to use force.

Moreover, the President condemns “the violence and other abominable acts carried out by those who have no respect for law and order”, although he didn’t clarify that these delinquents could be useful in making up menacing speeches.

The President and his wife, la Gaviota, to give her stage name, are deaf to anything they do not want to hear and live in solitary splendour.

The unequivocal ruling of the Permanent Tribunal of the People declared at the end of three years of hearings and thousands of testimonies: “In this world of impunity there are murders with murderers, torture without torturers and sexual violence without abusers.

In the same vein, the statement from the representatives of Mexican culture warned: “The rulers have lost control of the fear; the rage they have unleashed is turning back against them’.

From San Cristóbal de Las Casas, the EZLN (National Zapatista Liberation Army) summed it up: “It is both terrible and marvellous that the poor who aspire to be teachers have become the best educators, who, with the power of their pain transformed into a dignified anger, so that Mexico and the world wake up, question and ask for answers”.

Original article in La Jornada

Los Nadies

Sueñan las pulgas con comprarse un perro
y sueñan los nadies con salir de pobres,
que algún mágico día
llueva de pronto la buena suerte,
que llueva a cántaros la buena suerte;
pero la buena suerte no llueve ayer, ni hoy,
ni mañana, ni nunca,
ni en lloviznita cae del cielo la buena suerte,
por mucho que los nadies la llamen
y aunque les pique la mano izquierda,
o se levanten con el pie derecho,
o empiecen el año cambiando de escoba.

Los nadies: los hijos de nadie,
los dueños de nada.
Los nadies: los ningunos, los ninguneados,
corriendo la liebre, muriendo la vida, jodidos,

Que no son, aunque sean.
Que no hablan idiomas, sino dialectos.
Que no profesan religiones,
sino supersticiones.
Que no hacen arte, sino artesanía.
Que no practican cultura, sino folklore.
Que no son seres humanos,
sino recursos humanos.
Que no tienen cara, sino brazos.
Que no tienen nombre, sino número.
Que no figuran en la historia universal,
sino en la crónica roja de la prensa local.
Los nadies,
que cuestan menos
que la bala que los mata.

The Nobodies

Fleas dream of buying a dog
and the nobodies dream of getting out of their poverty,
that some magic day
suddenly good luck will rain upon them
that it will downpour bucket-fulls of good luck.
But good luck doesn’t rain today
or tomorrow, or ever,
not even a little drizzle falls from the sky.
No matter how much the nobodies cry for it
and even when their left hand itches
or they get up on the right foot,
or when they start the year with a new broom

the nobodies: the sons of nobody
the owners of nothings
the nobodies: nothings
chasing after the hare,
dying all their lives
Fucked and double fucked
Who don’t speak languages, but dialects.

Who don’t practice religions,
but superstitions.

Who don’t do make art, but crafts.
Who don’t practice culture,but folklore.
Who are not human,but human resources.
Who have no face but have arms,
who have no name, but a number.
Who don’t appear in the universal history books,
but in the police pages of the local press.
The nobodies,
who are not worth the bullet that kills them.

Eduardo Galeano

Emiliano Alen Gaspar de la Cruz


Yo, Jan Nimmo, quiero saber dónde está Emiliano Alen Gaspar de la Cruz. Digital Collage: Jan Nimmo @

This is the nineteenth portrait in a series of the 43 disappeared Normalista students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos teacher training school in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero. Emiliano Alen Gaspar de la Cruz, known to his family as Alen, was given the nickname “Paisa Pilas” by his fellow students because he is quiet, serious and intelligent. He is passionate about becoming a teacher. Before he disappeared he’d help out his father in the milpa, which is an nahuatl word for an ancient Mesoamerican system of agriculture which intercrop maize, beans, chillies and other native crops.

He said to his mother, ” Mum, I’m going to stay and study in Ayotzinapa because that way, when I finish class, I’ll have time to help dad in the milpa“.

“Imagine our anger, our impotence”, says one of Alen’s nephews, “If they were the sons of businessmen, sons of so called important people, they’d be looking for them on land and at sea, right? But because these boys are the sons of campesinos the Government doesn’t give the matter any importance. So we feel anger and frustration, but most of all we feel great pain, but will still maintain the hope that they are alive. We know it and the President has given his version of events, because he is travelling abroad. He cares about business, he cares about investment. But he doesn’t care about the people. Peña Nieto is not going to fool us: they are alive and we are going to find them”.

(translated from an article in Animal Político 8/11/14)

Let’s hope he’s right.

Jhosivani Guerrero de la Cruz

Yo, Jan Nimmo,  Glasgow, Escocia, quiero saber dónde está Jhosivani Guerrero de la Cruz. Digital Collage: Jan Nimmo ©

Yo, Jan Nimmo, Glasgow, Escocia, quiero saber dónde está Jhosivani Guerrero de la Cruz. Digital Collage: Jan Nimmo ©

This is a tribute to Jhosivani Guerrero de la Cruz. His mother says he was mischievous as a young boy and that he liked to play with toy cars; he’d dismantle them and put them back together again or use the bits to invent something new. Later, as he grew older, he started to like baseball and football. He helped his parents out with chores such as looking after the hens or pigs and just before he disappeared his parents came home to find that he had cut the grass back. He wants to be a teacher because of the poverty that surrounds him. He wants to help his community. He’d say “I don’t want to be a campesino, I want to study, to get ahead so that I could look after you, Mum”. He wants to study chemistry. He is from Omeapa and is 20 years old.

His nickname is The Korean ( El Coreano) because of his almond eyes.

His sister describes his disappearance as a nightmare and says that the family just want to get back to normal.

Martina, his mother says “I feel bad, not having my son near to me, I love him so much, he knew that and wherever he is, I’m going to search for him. I want him back with me. They took him alive and I want him back alive”.