News - November 13, 2014

Meanwhile in...Mexico

In the news: The murder of 43 students in the city of Iguala at the end of September has gripped Mexico. Before being murdered, the students were handed over to a local gang by corrupt police officers.

Commentary by Angel Loza-Valdez, Msc student of Food and Health, from Mexico.

‘This is a turning point for Mexican society. We are used to news about murders and disappearances; that’s the reality of life in Mexico. But this time it’s on a different scale – 43 students… I almost burst into tears when I heard the news.

The more so because I heard it here in the Netherlands, a place that is so safe. It is inconceivable that something like that could happen here. This fact influences how you think: you realize that a safe and peaceful life is a possibility. One difference between the two countries is that in the Netherlands everyone works to keep the situation as it is. In Mexico it’s different: we don’t like to get involved in politics. In Mexico, if you see someone doing something illegal on the street, you don’t say anything. For your own safety. But now everything is changing. People are coming together, they are protesting. Strikes are being held in universities across Mexico. The whole country is waking up – some experts are even saying that this could lead to a revolution.

As it happens, the region I’m from is one of the most dangerous in the country. I too have witnessed battles between the police and drug lords. In my city, you can see the most terrible things at times – bodies on the street, murdered. That is the reality you have to live with. Some of my friends from secondary school chose the wrong path. One of them is already dead. It is very difficult to make something of your life when you grow up in circumstances like these. Criminality is everywhere, all the time, and has penetrated every level of government. Some people choose to earn easy money, others have no choice: if they don’t cooperate with the criminals, they’ll be murdered.

It is very sad. Sometimes you can’t go outdoors in the evening because it is too dangerous. In the past ten years, more than 25,000 people have disappeared in Mexico – that’s like the whole of Wageningen disappearing.’