José Ángel Campos Cantor

JoseAngelCamposCantor

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

Jorge Antonio Tizapa Legideño

Yo, Jan Nimmo, Glasgow, Escocia, quiero saber dónde está JorgeAntonio Tizapa Legideno

Yo, Jan Nimmo, Glasgow, Escocia, quiero saber dónde está Jorge Antonio Tizapa Legideño. Digital Art: Jan Nimmo ©

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.”

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.

José Ángel Navarrete González

JoseAngelNavaretteGon

Yo, Jan Nimmo, Glasgow, Escocia, quiero saber dónde está José Ángel Navarrete González. Digital Collage: Jan Nimmo ©

Emiliano Navarrete Victoriano was working away in the US when his son, José Ángel Navarrete González was born. He remembers the phone call from his wife back in Mexico. He describes the birth of his son as the best day of his life.

José Ángel, or “Pepe” likes playing football but his dad instilled in him that it was important to study too. His parents didn’t have money to send him to a private school so their only option was to get him a place in a Normalista School so he went to study in Ayotzinapa.

His father recalls an exchange with his son, two days before he disappeared, “I gave him a big hug and told him that I loved him. I said – I’m so proud of you son, I like the way you conduct yourself. Wherever you are I will always be there for you. I have no idea I why I said that to him when I did. Believe me when I say that what has happened hurts so much but I’m going to find him and one day I’ll bring him back”.

From an interview on TeleSur 17/03/15

I don’t have to add anything to this, do I?

Jan Nimmo 10th April 2015

Abelardo Vázquez Peniten

AbelardoVazquezPeniten

Yo, Jan Nimmo, Glasgow, Escocia, quiero saber dónde está Abelardo Vázquez Peniten. Digital Collage: Jan Nimmo ©

Like many small towns in Guerrero that you might Google, you’ll find photos of landscapes, the town square, the church and amazing images of the local fiestas with the tlacololeros ready to do battle with jaguars. But these pictures are regularly punctuated with awful images that are difficult for the viewer; of cadavers, the victims of violence, sometimes sprawled on the ground, alone, or sometimes surrounded by a semi-circle of speechless townsfolk. I don’t pretend to know much of the circumstances of these random images that haunt me but I know that it is the context in which many ordinary campesino families live; indigenous campesino people whose life is a struggle to survive from day one. They are people who will no doubt dream of their children’s lot being better than theirs. So this is why the Normalista Rural Schools are so important. They are training young people from these small towns who will then, in turn, go back to teach in their own communities. Often they will become bilingual teachers. As educators these students are a threat to corrupt authorities, the police and insidious violent criminal gangs, like Guerreros Unidos, who have influence over the authorities. It is of no interest to any of these parties, or politicians further up the pecking order, to have the poor and the marginalised gaining more power over their lives.

Abelardo Vázquez Peniten, from Atliaca, is one of the Normalista students who dreams of making things better for his community. But he has been missing since the 26th Sept. 14, along with 42 of his fellow students from the Rural School in Ayotzinapa, who were forcibly disappeared by police and gangsters.

Abelardo, “El Abe”, is described by his fellow students as quiet, respectful and serious. He loves books and football. He is bilingual.

He used to help his Dad, who is a builder. His dad says he hopes that Abelardo is ok, that he’ll be home soon, but that the family are tired, sad, desperate, angry and still waiting for answers.

I have used some text in this portrait of Abelardo, from a song called Memories of Atliaca by Héctor Cárdenas Bello. This is a song about homesickness for Altliaca. (My English translation of the excerpt in the collage follows the Spanish). Wherever Abelardo is I’m sure he is missing his family and Atliaca, as his family and hometown miss him.

Recuerdos de Atliaca *

Ese lugarcito que se llama Atliaca,

reposa tranquilo, quietud sin igual,

me gusta es bonito, recuerdos de Atliaca

la paz de su iglesia que huele a copal

Sus calles derechas de viejo empedrado

evocan la historia que la vio nacer,

con casas de adobe, de palma y tejado,

recuerdos de Atliaca, quisiera volver

De mis ojos brota como manantial

el llanto que moja, tristeza es mi mal,

música de viento, canciones de Atliaca,

que triste me siento, quiero retornar

En mi pensamiento tus fiestas tus danzas,

tus viejas costumbres que me hacen llorar,

Pozo de Oztotempan la fe de tu pueblo

milagro de lluvia, ofrenda al creador

Deja que yo sienta el calor de tu suelo,

será mi consuelo cantarte mi amor,

recuerdos de Atliaca, dialecto canción

a la indita guapa de buen corazón

Tus nobles mujeres, todas de rebozo,

fieles al esposo al que saben amar

tus hombres valientes, a veces pacientes

saben defenderse, saben respetar

Esas tejerías de suelo tan rojo,

que mi llanto moja, ya no voy a ver

tus amaneceres que pinta la aurora,

es mi alma que llora que quiere volver

Caminos veredas, adiós ya me voy,

que lejos te quedas, mi canto te doy,

otle many villa, otle ya mi voy

ni mis caliva teva-ye vino canción

* Canción inédita de Héctor Cárdenas Bello

Memories of Atliaca  (extract)

My wet tears gush from my eyes like a spring

I am sad to the core,

Music of the wind, songs of Atliaca,

How sad I am, I want to go back

In my mind I see your fiestas and your dances

your ancient customs, and it brings me to tears

The well  at Oztotempan, the faith of your people

Miracle of rain, shrine to the Creator.

Let me feel the warmth of your soil

It will console me to sing to you, my love.

* Canción inédita de Héctor Cárdenas Bello

Jan Nimmo 9th of April 2015

Emiliano Alen Gaspar de la Cruz

EmilioAllenGaspar

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.

Marcial Pablo Baranda

Yo, Jan Nimmo, Glasgow, Escocia, quiero saber dónde está Marcial Pablo Baranda . Digital collage: Jan Nimmo ©

Yo, Jan Nimmo, Glasgow, Escocia, quiero saber dónde está Marcial Pablo Baranda . Digital collage: Jan Nimmo ©

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