Jorge Alvarez Nava is from Juan R. Escudero, Guerrero, a town named after a trade unionist. Jorge has been missing since the 26th September. His parents, Epifanio and Blanca want their son back home. He is one of the 43 Normalista students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos teacher training school, who were forcibly disappeared in Iguala by police and members of the criminal gang, Guerrero Unidos. He was known as El Chabelo and was 19 years old at the time of his disappearance. I have read that he enjoyed music so the song lyrics are from a song about Tierra Colorada, the area he comes from.
Vivos se los llevaron, Vivos los queremos.
Felipe Arnulfo Rosa, from Rancho Papa near Ayutla de los Libres (the place where turtles are abundant), Guerrero, is one of the students at the Normalista “Raúl Isidro Burgos” teacher training school in Ayotzinapa. He was forcibly disappeared along with another 42 students, in Iguala in Sept 2014, at the hands of local, municipal and state police. He was 20 years old at the time of his disappearance.
In researching this piece I watched film shot at his family home, a basic wooden shack, and listened to his mother speak of how he helped out with family chores – they are campesinos, She spoke of how he’d get up at 5 am to go to study and how he wanted to make things better for his indigenous family. She is in tears as she shows the camera his well worn huaraches, (sandals), so ordinary, so typical and so very, very empty.
Felipe likes music and plays guitar. I don’t know what music he listens to or plays but I have used the lyrics of a “chilena” called La Sanmarqueña and a few lines from “Pajarillo Jilguero” or “Little Goldfinch”, another son from the Costa Chica, in this collage. It’s a sad son by El Conjunto de los Hermanos Molina, that I have listened to since I first visited Mexico back in the mid 90’s.
Pajarillo Jilguero préstame tus alas, préstame tus alas
Para llevarle un recuerdo a mi amada, a mi amada.
Padres que tienen hijas, que las maltratan, que las maltratan
Yo que las quiero mucho, yo que las quiero tanto
Diós me las quitan y Dios me las matan
Pájaro que abandona su primer nido, su primer nido
Pájaro que abandona su primer nido, su primer nido
Si lo encuentra ocupado, su merecido, su merecido.
Each time I work on a collage I learn a little about each of these boys. I’m not even a quarter of the way through making the portraits of the 43 students so I am reminded of how big a number 43 is; a big number within an enormous number; 22,000. There have been 32,000 people disappeared over the last two electoral terms in Mexico. Every time I look on Twitter, at the pages of the disappeared, La Alameda’s tweets from all over the Republic, I learn that every day there are more missing women, children and men, and murdered journalists and activists too. I look online to see the places where the boys came from and amongst the images of town squares, indigenous crafts and rural life there are shockingly violent images of clandestine graves and of young men who have been executed and dumped like pieces of rubbish. So part of the process of making these pieces is to cry buckets but also to try and keep hold of what is beautiful.
Jan Nimmo © 2015
This is another portrait in my series of the 43 Normalista students from the Escuela Rural “Raul Isidro Burgos”, Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, who were disappeared on the 26th September 2014 in Iguala.
According to his fellow students Marcial is 20 years old and at the time of his disappearance was studying to become a bilingual teacher as he spoke an indigenous language (I’m not sure if it is Amuzgo or Mixtec which he speaks as he is from the Costa Chica). He and the other students have been training to become bilingual teachers so that they could give children an education in some of the poorest indigenous villages in Guerrero. This was something which drove Marcial in his work. His friends describe him as short and good natured.
His nickname is “Magallón” because his family have a band of the same name; musicians who play tropical, coastal music such as Cumbia. His friends laugh when they remember him, as he was always singing songs from his home in the Costa Chica, He apparently plays the trumpet and drums.
The Costa Chica in Guerrero is a part of Mexico which has a concentration of Afro-Mexicans who are the descendents of escaped slaves and the local Amuzgo and Mixtec people.
Jan Nimmo 7th January 2015
Yo, Jan Nimmo, Glasgow Escocia, quiero saber dónde está José Eduardo Bartolo Tlatempa. Digital Collage: © Jan Nimmo
José Eduardo, the son of a bricklayer, comes from Tixtla, Guerrero and is a first year student at the Escuela Normal “Raul Isidros Burgos” in Ayotzinapa. He was 19 years old when he was disappeared alongside 42 of his fellow students on 26th September 2014 in Iguala. There is more background information on “Caso Iguala” and why I am making these artworks in a previous post.
I have translated the following from an article by Rosa Emilia Porras Lara for El Milenio Digital to give some background on José Eduardo’s family:
Mexico City, 6th October 2014
The mother of José Eduardo Bartolo Tlatempa asks, over and over again “Where is my son?”. None of her family dare to tell her that no one knows.
José Eduardo Bartolo Tlatempa, a first year student at the Normalista Teacher Training School in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, is one of 43 students who were disappeared on 26th September 2014.
In an interview with El Milenio newspaper, Aunt Ana Celi tells of how Eduardo’s mum isn’t aware that her son has been disappeared.
“My sister is in hospital because she has cancer. She doesn’t know what’s happening, none of us dare tell her that Eduardo hasn’t appeared since he went to Iguala. She simply asks, “Where is my son?” to which we reply, “With us”.
Eduardo’s aunt was in Mexico City the previous Friday, as part of a delegation that was received by Luis Enrique Miranda, Vice-Secretary of the Interior Ministry, to ask for his support in the search to locate the whereabouts of students.
Ana Celi says that Eduardo left for school as usual on the 26th. He said he was going to Iguala to collect funds so that they could go on the march on the 2nd October (to commemorate the 1968 student massacre in Mexico City).
“Friday 26th was the last time we saw Eduardo. The plan was that they were going to communities around Iguala the following week, and for that reason they also needed money.”
Ana Celi, is sure that the municipal police started to follow the young students as soon as they started collecting money.
“The students who got away alive have said that the police followed them all the time and didn’t let them out of their sight, and when the students were leaving, the police attacked them with without any motive. Many of those who were injured are critically ill as they were shot in their vital organs and we want justice for them”.
Eduardo’s aunt directly accuses the municipal police in Iguala and also organised crime gangs for the disappearance of the students.
“Of course those who are involved in organised crime are behind this, as well as the Mayor of Iguala; they are all linked to one another. They have done this because it doesn’t suit them to have educated young people around.”
Ana Celi insists, “We know that they are alive, probably badly beaten and for that reason they don’t want to show them”.
Article ends. Original article in Spanish here.
Since then I understand that Eduardo’s mother’s cancer has been in remission. The whereabouts of the students is still unknown with one exception – Alexander Venancio Mora – whose remains were identified (from a 1cm fragment of bone and a molar found in Cocula) by Argentinian forensic scientists.
Yo, Jan Nimmo, Glasgow, Escocia, quiero saber dónde está Everardo Rodríguez Bello.
My latest tribute to the Normalista students from the “Raul Isidro Burgos” teacher training school, Ayotzinapa, disappeared on the 26th Sept in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico.
© Jan Nimmo
Alexander Mora Venancio, was 19 years old and was studying at the Normalista School “Raul Isidro Burgos”, in Ayotzinapa when he was disappeared on 26th September alongside another 42 students. Alexander likes to play football for his local team in El Pericón and was well thought of in his community. He is described as a boy who was polite and respectful of his elders. He is from a poor family and he desperately wanted to become a teacher.
Alexander is from Pericón, in the municipality of Tecoanapa, Guerrero. One of his brothers works as an agricultural worker on a vineyard in Sonora. He had three brothers and his mother died two years ago. His father, Ezequiel Mora, is a taxi driver.
His nickname is “la Roca” because of his perseverance and determination.
“They have taken everything from me and I don’t want other people to suffer the same and I will continue to fight, so that this miserable government does everything possible, and because there are so many “disappeared” people and no-one does anything about it”, said Ezequiel Mora, Alexander’s father to Mexican newspaper El Proceso.
Horrified by recent and not so recent events in Mexico I was more than willing to make a piece of work in response to Mexican artist, Valeria Gallo’s initiative, #IlustradoresConAyotzinapa, which was for artists (both professional and spontaneous) to put a face to the 43 students from the Escuela Normal “Raul Isidro Burgos” in Ayotzinapa.
The students were forcibly disappeared at the hands of the police on the 26th September – A mass kidnapping which led to the brutal disappearance of these young men who were training to become teachers.
At least 25,000 people have been disappeared in Mexico over the last two presidential terms (and these are official statistics). Whist the disappearances have taken place all over the Republic, Guerrero, one of Mexico’s most impoverished States, has been blighted by violence, killings, and disappearances and terrorised by organised criminal gangs.
I number of years ago I travelled around Guerrero to meet popular artists from that part of Mexico. Other foreigners there at that time, with the exception of those visiting Acapulco, seemed mostly to be human rights observers. The situation wasn’t great but since then violent oppression has escalated in a way that I could never have imagined.
On the occasions I went to Guerrero, I met musicians from La Costa Chica who demonstrated a direct link with their African ancestors who had been runaway slaves. I met lacquer artists like Francisco “Chico” Coronel, from the town of Olinalá, and travelled to Temalacatzingo to meet the people who made the wooden animals I had been collecting since I started travelling to Mexico. There were many mask makers amongst whose zoomorphic masks, “El Tigre” (the Jaguar), was king. I have seven paintings on my wall by Jesus Lorrenzo, from Xalitla, which I love.
In towns and villages like Tlapa de Comonfort, Xochistlahuaca and Ometepec, near the border with Oaxaca, I met indigenous women who were talented embroiderers and who often invited me, a lone woman traveller, into their homes for a bowl of soup and tortillas.
Emily. Woodcut: Jan Nimmo ©
I found the Guerrenses to be kind and welcoming. And I loved the rich diversity of their culture. I have so much affection for that part of the world and its people (and for all the other parts of Mexico that I have visited over the years). So when I heard the news of the mass kidnapping I felt sickened to the core. To see how events unfolded: the ongoing discovery of many mass graves around Iguala, the alleged role of the mayor of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca and his wife, Maria de Los Angeles Piñeda, and her association with the criminal gang Guerreros Unidos, and their subsequent involvement in the abduction of the students… all seemed to unravel like some kind of unbelievably grotesque Telenovela.
It’s not that I haven’t been aware of the dreadful increase in violence and disappearances that has happened in Mexico over the last 8 years but the events of Caso Ayotzinapa have really gotten under my skin – as it seems to have for all of Mexico and internationally. Now is really is the time to say enough – ¡Basta ya! Now is the time to say, Todos somos Ayotzinapa – we are all Ayotzinapa. Mexicans are sick of the violence and you will see “Ya me cansé” on banners everywhere.
All over the Republic of Mexico there are protests, marches, vigils, tributes, artworks, banners, actions, altars – all dedicated to the 43 students and all that they represent: they are symbolic of all of the murdered, the disappeared and the trafficked. What I take heart in is the resilience of ordinary Mexican people. We have to stand by them and offer them whatever solidarity we can – no action is too small. If you do nothing else, tell a friend.
We still don’t know the true fate of the students although there have been arrests and confessions which are discredited because the detainees were tortured.
When choosing the subjects for the two pieces I have made for Ayotzinapa, I chose Jorge Aníbal Cruz Mendoza (19 years old) and Jorge Luis González Parral (21 years old). Why? How do you choose from 43 when all of them have the same right to justice? Well I suppose I wanted to show just how young they are, boys from the same wee village, Xalpatláhuac, just at the beginning of their adult lives, boys who, under other circumstances, who would become teachers and go on to have families.
The Virtual Quilt for Ayotzinapa: A Tribute to the disappeared.
Yesterday I spent the afternoon making the piece portraying Jorge Luis González Parral and the remaining 42 students for a solidarity/arts project initiated by Victoria Roberts and Andrea Arroyo, two New York-based visual artists.
Andrea and Victoria state, “We hope to gather the work of as many artists from around the world as possible, to create a VIRTUAL QUILT for an online exhibition project that might potentially be exhibited in galleries in New York and beyond.
“Just as the Aids Memorial Quilt brought attention to the AIDS epidemic, we hope to bring public attention to another epidemic – the loss of innocent lives lost to the drug war, poverty, and migration.”
If you are interested in participating please get in touch with Andrea and Victoria. Works should be 8″ x 8″ and be 300 dpi and should be sent to:
#AyotzinapaSomosTodos #YaMeCanse #IlustradoresConAyotzinapa
Jan Nimmo 25th November 2014