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.