Monday, October 13, 2014

Guerrero: don't forgive, don't forget

That's the "Palacio de Gobierno," the seat of the government in the State of Guerrero, Mexico, in flames late Monday afternoon. Behind these were flames that sear, not the flesh, but the soul.On September 26, cops from the city of Iguala massacred students from a nearby heavily-indigenous rural teacher's college. Six people were killed, dozens wounded, and 43 students were arrested and vanished ... "disappeared."

Also vanished are Iguala's mayor, who told radio interviewers shortly before going on the lam that he knew nothing of the events until reading about it in the newspapers, since he had been at a dance that night; the mayor's wife, honoree at the festivities and sister to four former capos of the Beltrán Leyva cartel and founding leaders of its successor, Guerreros Unidos. Also not to be found were the owners of the main movie theater, the supermarket, the shopping mall, the jewelry store and many other Iguala businesses.

But that is not so surprising once you realize that one name appears time and again on title deeds and incorporation papers: namely and to wit, the name of hizzoner the mayor.

The chief of police is also gone, albeit he is not the same person as the mayor, only an accomplice. Also an accomplice is the governor of the state of Guerrero, who not only is not a fugitive, but refuses to resign his position. The picture above captures the reaction of a broad section of the population to his demural.

The Iguala massacre will go down in history with the Tlatelolco massacre of hundreds of students in 1968 as one of the greatest crimes of Mexico's rulers.

And the country's political class has followed its usual pattern of pretending nothing has happened: President Enrique Peña Nieto said it was a local matter and it took him nine days, until Monday October 6, before he could bring himself to take even a smidgen of responsibility, and that only after mass graves with the charred remains of 28 persons were found. He spoke again on  Friday the 10th, two weeks after the massacre and after more clandestine graves were found. “En un Estado de Derecho no cabe la impunidad," he thundered, which means, "under the rule of law, there is no place for impunity."

He did not, however, explain what such idyllic clichés have to do with Mexico, as the mayor of Iguala --his whereabouts still unknown-- nevertheless managed to get a judge to issue an injunction against the mayor being arrested or questioned.

From my perch as co-host of an Atlanta Spanish-language talk radio show with a mostly Mexican audience
, watching these events unfold over the past two-and-a-half weeks, has been like watching a train wreck in slow motion. President Peña Nieto seems to think the whole thing can still be papered over with a few phrases promising to punish those responsible, now that his explanations of the division of responsibility between federal and state authorities has failed to satisfy.

But watching the TV news videos of the burning "Government Palace" only keeps pushing through my mind the ending of a song I first heard sometime in high school, nearly a half century ago.

Down on our knees we're begging you please,
We're sorry for the way you were driven.
There's no need to taunt just take what you want,
and we'll make amends, if we're living.
But away from the grounds the flames told the town
that only the dead are forgiven.
As they crumbled inside the ringing of revolution.