Many thanks to Billy Briggs for caring enough to write about this story. Published in the Sunday Mail (Scotland) 30/05/15. Portraits to date here and more to come over July and August. #NoHayOlvido
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.
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
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
Vivos para compartir
Vivos para discutir
Vivos para construir
Locos por vivir
Sólo una cosa más
Que gracias a ti
Pude ser quién soy
[Letra y música: Jerónimo Ramiro]
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
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]
I made this portrait of Miguel Ángel Mendoza Zacarias today (part of the series of the 43 students who were studying in Ayotzinapa), with some urgency as I have been invited to collaborate with an event in Eugene, Oregon, USA on the 11th April 2015, as part of the Caravana 43 tour of the USA. The event will have contributions from two parents of the disappeared students, Blanca Luz Nava Vélez, mother of Jorge Alvarez Nava, y Estanislao Mendoza Chocolate, father of Miguel Ángel Mendoza Zacarias. They will be speaking to raise awareness of their situation and that of the other parents and families of the disappeared Normalista students.
Margarita remembers Miguel Ángel as a good, much loved boy. He is quiet and well liked by the townsfolk in his native Apango, Mártir de Cuilapa. He enjoyed playing basketball and he took a course in the local church so that he could become a barber.
His mother recalls that the week before the students were victims of the attack in which her son disappeared, he left his house to cut hair so that he could earn money to buy books for his studies. Before becoming a student at the Normalista School “Raúl Isidro Burgos” in Ayotzinapa, he had gone to study medicine at Universidad Autónoma Latinoamericana Caribeña de Ciencias y Artes but was unable to continue due to a change in government policy. Margarita says that he loves to study but that he also helps out on his father’s land.
Miguel Ángel is known locally by a couple of nicknames, “El Miclo” because when he was little he broke his right foot and he has a metal plate inserted, He is also known as “Botita” because his brother is nicknamed El Bota.
He is well liked and being older than many of the other students in Ayotzinapa, looked out for the younger ones and gave them advice. A fellow student describes him as a good guy and recalls the night of the 26th September 2014, “We were travelling on the same seat on the bus and we had agreed not to wake each other up but then the bullets started coming we got off the bus and I ran one way and he ran the other I got back on the bus but he was arrested by the Iguala police, I escaped and since then I have been searching for him”.
Miguel Ángel’s dad now has to harvest his maize alone, without the help of his son. His mother, who makes and sells atole, a hearty pre-hispanic drink of ground maize, cane sugar and flavoured with cinnamon, just wants her son back at home so that she can make him some. Hi niece, Estrella, who adores Miguel Ángel, misses him very much and struggles to come to terms with the fact that he is no longer around.
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
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
Have postponed today’s drawing to do this piece of work first – in solidarity with the Mexican illustrators and artists who are raising awareness about the the 43 students from Ayotzinapa, Guerrero who were “disappeared’ last month in Iguala. The idea is for artists to focus on missing individuals rather than their just being a nameless statistic. I have chosen Jorge Aníbal Cruz Mendoza, who is only 19 years old. I’m asking for JUSTICE for the students, their families and for all the other unidentified victims of forced disappearances and for those buried in clandestine graves in the hills that surround Iguala.
Love and Solidarity from Scotland.
Jan Nimmo 27th October 2014 ©