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‘They should be remembered’: Latin Heritage Month screens ‘The 43’

A group called Ayot2inapa gathers two years after the disappearance of 43 students in Ayotzinapa, Mexico. Source Wikimedia Commons Author: PetrohsW
Students and staff came together as part of Latin Heritage Month on Sept. 25 to participate in a Netflix watch party and discussion of the documentary “The 43.” The virtual screening, one of many cultural events planned until Oct. 15, went live one day before the six-year anniversary of the film’s tragic subject material.

“We wanted to bring a little twist and provide additional information and history to our celebration,” said Monica Margaillan, coordinator of Community Outreach at Mesa Community College. 

The film covers the disappearances of 43 Mexican college students and political activists from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College on Sept. 26, 2014. Its plot seeks to uncover the truth between the Mexican government’s official claim that a drug cartel killed the students, and international justice organizations’ unofficial narrative that claims the Mexican government was aware of the crime. 

At its heart, the film is a critically-biting investigation into the Mexican government’s alleged use of forced disappearances. Evidence and expert testimony claims the Mexican government was aware and potentially even gave the order to target the students. It also claims the Mexican government participated in an elaborate cover up to save their then president, Enrique Peña Nieto, from international crime charges.

After the screening, Margaillon opened up the chat to ask participants their thoughts on the film. 

“It was heartbreaking to watch, but necessary, I think,” wrote student Jeida Cortez. “Silence about these events is never the answer.”

“They should be remembered,” wrote student Ellen Rodriguez. “We should fight for what we know is right.” 

In addition to the documentary, Latin Heritage Month offers Latin students and staff spaces to talk about issues they see within their communities. 

“We don’t talk enough about undocumented students,” said Erick Tanchez of Student Life and Leadership. “I feel like we’re often targeted within our own community. I’m saying that with police rates that devastate larger communities for kids who may have been brought here.”

Animosity surrounding President Trump’s immigration policy was the basis of concern held by many community members. 

“It is not true. We are not rapists. We are not criminals. We come to this country as any other person to better themselves,” Margaillan said. “Right now, I feel we are being threatened. It is concerning. It is very concerning.”

Still, Latin Heritage Month is just as much a celebration of the Latin community’s victories as a recognition of its issues. One of these victories, the success of local cultural markets called Cotivo Markets, Tanchez praised.

“There’s been a large increase of Latino support in businesses,” Tanchez said. “There’s been a lot of these–they’re called Cotivo Markets, where you are able to bring all Latino businesses in one space… When I went to it, it reminded me of how beautiful our culture is.”

Whatever the reason to gather, MCC staff believe Latin Heritage Month provides an opportunity for local communities to come together and celebrate their progress.

“When we celebrate this month, we celebrate our resiliency. We celebrate our customs and traditions in a positive way,” Margaillan said. “We can say, ‘We are still moving forward. We are still here. No one can break us down.’” 

Latin Heritage Month will host events virtually until Oct. 15. One to watch out for, according to Tanchez, is the Afro-Latinx/Chicanx Fishbowl taking place Friday, Oct. 9.

Students can find the list of events here: https://www.mesacc.edu/student-life/multicultural-and-social-justice-programming/latin-american-heritage-month

About Author

Brock Blasdell is an American student journalist from Mesa, Arizona. He was hired onto the Mesa Legend in late 2018 as an Opinions Editor, and soon became the publication’s News Editor in 2019. His writings emphasize college history, civil involvement, and personal reflection on modern American issues, while also analyzing and critiquing the role of modern media in national politics. Twitter @Brockblasdell

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