A Roar of Silence
On September 26, 2014, students from the Escuela Normal Rural de Ayotzinapa in the Mexican state of Guerrero boarded buses to attend a demonstration in Mexico City commemorating the anniversary of the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre, in which as many as 3,000 students were killed by Mexican police officers and military troops.
On their way to Mexico City, the students were to stop in the small town of Iguala to protest a political event held by the mayor and his wife. As the students arrived in Iguala, the buses were violently intercepted by local police. While details of the confrontation remain unclear, the police eventually opened fire, killing six and wounding twenty-five. Another 43 student teachers were witnessed being herded into police vehicles—and never seen again.
After months of inaction and incompetence, the Mexican government released an official statement claiming that the Iguala police had handed the students over to a local drug cartel, the Guerreros Unidos, who later incinerated all 43 bodies in a nearby garbage dump. While the Mexican government hoped to close the case on the missing students, experts have pointed out that their claims are implausible, inconsistent, and scientifically unsound. The families of the missing students—with the support of the international community—continue to search for the truth.
Just eight weeks after the disappearances, internationally renowned artist and activist Francisco Toledo, in conjunction with the Instituto de Artes Gráficas de Oaxaca (IAGO), launched an open call encouraging artists from all over the world to submit work centered on the 43 missing students for an exhibition titled Carteles de Ayotzinapa. Over seven hundred pieces were submitted by artists from Mexico, Iran, Poland, Spain, Portugal, China, Greece, and more. The final forty-three were displayed at the Museo de Memoria y Tolerancia in Mexico City, along with an installation of 43 kites—each displaying the face of one of the missing students—created by Toledo and participants of an “Art and Paper” workshop in Oaxaca. Proceeds raised by the exhibition went to the families of the disappeared students.
Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC), Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG), ArtDivision, and Self-Help Graphics & Art are working together to bring Toledo’s important, international exhibition to the United States for the first time. Ayotzinapa: A Roar of Silence traveled throughout Los Angeles with the help of organizations committed to using art as a tool for change. This series invites the LA community to support and amplify the roar for justice heard from Ayotzinapa and throughout the world.
Ayotzinapa: A Roar of Silence is available as a traveling exhibition.
For more information about bringing this exhibition to your institution, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 397-3100.
Below the exhibition is a non-exhaustive timeline of events following the 26th of September, 2014. Page layout and timeline by CSPG Archive Intern Annette Lam.
Timeline of Events
September 26, 2014:
100+ students from Tixla’s Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College were attacked by armed police while on their way to Iguala to commandeer buses as transportation to a Mexico City rally on the anniversary of the 1968 Tlatelolco Massacre.
By the end of the day, 6 people were dead:
students Daniel Solís Gallardo and Julio César Ramírez Nava; David Josué García Evangelista (15 years old), Blanca Montiel Sánchez (victim of a stray bullet), and Víctor Manuel Lugo Ortiz (bus driver of the football team).
Aldo Gutiérrez Solano, found shot in the head and left for dead, was in coma was a 20% chance for survival.
In the aftermath of the attack, 43 students were missing.
Source: Running For Ayotzinapa 43
Julio César Mondragón Fontes' body is found in the middle of a busy street; police deny any involvement.
Guerreros Unidos cartel members are blamed for the disappearance and 22 police officers are arrested.
Iguala Mayor José Luis Abarca Velázquez and his wife, María de los Ángeles Pineda, are arrested on suspicion regarding involvement regarding the disappeared students.
Local gang members confess to killing then burning the remains of the missing students; parents of the victims are skeptical.
President Enrique Peña Nieto introduces 10 point plan to address corruption in light of the Ayotzinapa case.
Iguala mayor José Luis Abarca goes into hiding.
Source: The Washington Post
Precautionary Measure 409/14 is issued by Inter-American Commission on Human Rights through the Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña, a Guerrero-based human rights organization, requesting that the Mexican government ensure the protection of the missing students' lives in the following years.
President Enrique Peña Nieto officially addresses the missing Ayotzinapa students.
Source: The Latin Times
Federal authorities take over the investigation of the missing students.
Abarca and his wife are accused of ordering the attack on the Ayotzinapa students.
Under mounting pressure, Guerrero governor Angel Aguirre Rivero resigns.
Source: La Otra Opinión
Tomás Zerón, head of the AIC, is believed to have taken suspect Agustín “El Chereje” García Reyes to a crime scene without proper authorization nor a lawyer. This was not recorded in official documents.
Source: Tehuacan Digital
Alexander Mora Venancio's remains are identified by the Austrian Innsbruck Medical University.
Source: Running For Ayotzinapa 43
Leaked documents show that federal authorities were aware of a planned attack by corrupt police on the Ayotzinapa students.
Journalist Anabel Hernandez reveals that Federal police, in collaboration with the army, are responsible for the attack. She also alleges that the students' movements as they left Tixtla were monitored by Control, Command, Communications and Computation, a government run information command post. Survivors, of the attack however, refute that the army were involved.
Iguala mayor Abarca is formally accused of ordering the attack and disappearance of the students.
Procuraduría General de la República, the office of the attorney general, Jesus Murillo Karam, announces based on 39 confessions, 386 declarations, 487 forensic tests, 16 raids and two reconstructions, investigators concluded that municipal police arrested the youths in the city of Iguala on 26 September and handed them over to the Guerreros Unidos cartel, declaring this to be the "historical truth".
Source: Eje Central Mexico
An investigation by Mexican news magazine Proceso claims motivation behind the September 24, 2014 attack is theorized to be an attempted recovery of a heroin shipment worth $2 million smuggled on the students' bus.
María de los Ángeles Pineda, wife of the mayor of Iguala, is announced to not be charged in the students' disappearance.
Independent forensic research contradicts Mexican authorities’ findings: no evidence to support the official conclusion that the students’ remains were burned in a landfill near Cocula in Guerrero.
Special Follow-Up Mechanism for the Ayotzinapa Case (MESA) is created by Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), that monitors human rights in the area, through Resolution 42/16 to monitor the Ayotzinapa case investigation, in accordance with Precautionary Measure 409/14, originally issued in October 2014.
Witness testimony states that federal police and local police were present when the 43 students were disappeared, even participating in the attack.
A report from GIEI (Grupo Interdisciplinario de Expertos Independientes), appointed by Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) determined a concerted effort of a cover-up by the Mexican government in investigating the Ayotzinapa students.
Furthermore, it states that the official, government-issued report is based off of testimonies acquired via torturing suspects.
A report released indicates that international human rights officials investigating the disappearances were targeted by spyware in March 2016.
Federal court ruled that the Ayotzinapa investigation “was not prompt, effective, independent or impartial.” As such the Attorney General’s Office was to re-investigate the missing students by creating a Truth Commission.
44 defendants in the Ayotzinapa case are released.
Aldo Gutiérrez Solano returned to a care facility built for him in Ayutla.
United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights publishes a report accusing authorities of a cover up in the handling of the Ayotzinapa case, covering errors early in the investigation, arbitrary detainment, torturing suspects and delaying the investigation.
Following his presidential victory, then president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador
vows to pursue justice for the missing Ayotzinapa students with the support of their parents.
Source: International Business Times India
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador creates the Presidential Commission for Truth and Access to Justice in the Ayotzinapa case (CoVAJ-Ayotzinapa), whose official purpose to the victims' families achieve justice and discover the truth behind the forced disappearance.
Aldo Gutiérrez Solano returned to his family to celebrate his birthday.
Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos, Mexico’s national human rights commission, demands for an investigation into 375 public officials believed to obstruct the Ayotzinapa investigation.
The FGR recovers remains in the the Barranca La Carnicería ravine in Cocula.
the Attorney General’s Office (FGR) establishes the Special Unit for the Investigation and Litigation of the Ayotzinapa Case, which seeks to investigate the events and persons relevant to the Ayotzinapa case.
Alleged Guerreros Unidos leader and prominent figure in the Ayotzinapa case is acquitted and released.
21 Iguala municipal police officers in connection with the 2014 attack are released due to the prior government's use of torture to obtain information.
Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero announces an entirely new investigation into the events after meeting with the missing students' parents .
Supreme Court Chief Justice Arturo Zaldívar and Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero collaborate in investigating the 43 students' disappearance, as proposed by President López Obrador.
Zerón is confirmed to have fled Mexico following an arrest warrant issued for him in March.
Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero announces prosecutors have requested 46 warrants for the arrest of Guerrero municipal officials in connection with the disappearance and presumed murder of 43 teaching students in September 2014.
Christian Alfonso Rodríguez Telumbre’s remains identified after their March discovery in a ravine located 800 meters away from the Cocula garage dump, further discrediting the "historical truth" narrative of the previous Peña Nieto government.
Source: Running For Ayotzinapa 43
Mexico request Canada to arrest and extradite Zerón.
The missing students' parents ask President López Obrador for the Financial Intelligence Unit to investigate public officials implicated in the Ayotzinapa case.
Ezequiel Peña Cerda, a former Criminal Investigation Agency (AIC) director, Ariel Agustín Castillo Reyes, a former member of the Mexican Navy, and Isidro Junco Baraja, the former director of special teams from the federal investigative police are arrested on charges of torturing an alleged perpetrator of the attacks.
Source: Grupo Fórmula
Tomás Zerón, former head of the AIC, is pursued by prosecutors regarding irregularities in his investigation of the missing students. His charges include evidence tampering, torture, forced disappearances, prohibiting the administration of justice, and crime scene altering.
Mexico has asked Interpol to issue a red notice calling for the arrest Tomás Zerón.
Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero announces 46 warrants requested for the arrest of Guerrero municipal officials in connection with the disappeared students.
Mexican President Obrador announces the arrests of 80 people made since March, including military personnel, criminal group members, and police.
A witness, “Juan”, alleges that soldiers were involved in the attack, detaining them, then interrogating them at a base before handing them off to the Guerreros Unidos gang.
As a result, the Mexican Army pledges to cooperate with authorities.
Another arrest warrant is issued for Zerón's arrest by Mexico's federal prosecutor's office for "probable torture".
40 videos recorded by the now defunct Center for Investigation and National Security are released. These recordings, made in the months following the students' disappearance, show police from the previous government torturing suspects in the Ayotzinapa case. The purpose of the torture is believed to manipulate testimonies to support the official narrative regarding the missing students.
Officials in the video include Zerón and anti-kidnapping unit chief Gualberto Ramírez among other FGR members.
The videos will serve as evidence in a criminal case against former officials who fabricated evidence and documents concerning the missing 43.
Source: Mexico News Daily
The FGR is forced to release a document regarding soldiers' testimonies regarding the missing students' potential location to comply with a federal transparency law.
Unfortunately, the 239 page document was so heavily redacted it was rendered illegible and useless.
A new arrest warrant is issued by Mexico City's Federal Justice Center for Tomás Zerón's arrest.
Austria's University of Innsbruck positively identifies
Jhosivani Guerrero de la Cruz's remains.
Source: Running For Ayotzinapa 43
Transcripts of intercepted texts are released by the Interior Ministry and reveal that at least 38 of 43 students were handed over to Guerreros Unidos by municipal police.
Gildardo López Astudillo, a GU leader, tells police chief Francisco Salgado Valladares to deliver him all the students in order to torture them.
It is believed that the students mistakenly commandeered buses which the GU were using to smuggle heroin.
Alleged leader of the Guerreros Unidos gang and former Ayotzinapa suspect Felipe Rodríguez Salgado claims that Thomas Zerón bribed him with 4 million pesos to incriminate the former Iguala mayor and other GU leaders. Although Salgado rejected the offer, Zerón threatened him should he come forward about the bribe.
Salgado was one of the suspects acquitted in 2018 after it was determined that they were tortured in the presence of Zerón.
Press for Ayotzinapa, A Roar of Silence
Original Poster Art Exhibit Pays Tribute to Mexico's Missing 43 Students, Sola Agustsson, Huffington Post, New York City, New York, USA, March 7, 2016