Ayotzinapa:  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.

Timeline of Events


September 16, 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

September 27:

Mutilated body of Julio César Mondragón Fontes found in the middle of a busy street; police deny any involvement

October 1:

Iguala mayor José Luis Abarca goes into hiding

October 23:

Under mounting pressure, Guerrero governor Angel Aguire Rivero resigns

November 8:

Local gang members confess to killing then burning the remains of the missing students; parents of the victims are skeptical

September 28:
Guerreros Unidos cartel members are blamed for the disappearance and 22 police officers are arrested 

October 22:

Abarca and his wife are accused of ordering the attack on the Ayotzinapa students

November 6:

Iguala Mayor Jose Luis Abarca and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda are arrested on suspicion regarding involvement regarding the disappeared students


January 14:

Iguala mayor Abarca is formally accused of ordering the attack and disappearance of the students

April 27:

María de los Ángeles Pineda, wife of the mayor of Iguala, is announced to not be charged


February 9: 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

April 15: Witness testimony states that federal police and local police were present when the 43 students were disappeared, even participating in the attack


July 10: A report released indicates that international human rights officials investigating the disappearances were targeted by spyware in March 2016


October 8: Aldo Gutiérrez Solano returned to a care facility built for him in Ayutla 


January 28: Aldo Gutiérrez Solano returned to his family to celebrate his birthday

September: A new investigation into the events is announced

  • September 16: Several suspects are released due to allegations being tortured while in custody and their human rights violated


July 7: Christian Alfonso Rodríguez Telumbre’s remains identified


January 21: 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

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