Mexico's missing students 3

Mexico’s missing students

A Scottish artist is helping an international campaign to find 43 students who disappeared in Mexico last year.

The trainee teachers studied at a college in Guerrero state and disappeared on the 26th September 2014.

Unique portraits of the students produced by Glasgow based artist Jan Nimmo have been used on protests by some of the missing men’s families.

The men were on their way to a political protest in buses when they came under fire from police that evening. Attacks by police that night left six people dead and at least 17 wounded.

The fate of the students is unclear amid claims they were kidnapped by police and handed over to a drug cartel who murdered them.

Marco Antonio – pictured above – is from Tixtla in Guerrero.

His nickname is Tuntún and he was 20 years old at the time of his disappearance last September.

His fellow students at the Normalista school “Raúl Isidro Burgos” in Ayotzinapa describe how he loves rock music and how one of his favorites is the Spanish rock band Saratoga.

The government claim that police gave the students to a gang called Guerreros Unidos who allegedly took the students to a rubbish tip outside the town of Cocula where they killed them and burned the bodies on a pyre of tyres soaked in diesel fuel.

The families of the missing men refuse to believe this version and are desperately seeking the truth.

Nimmo’s pictures of the students were shown at an event in Eugene, Oregon, USA, and on a demonstration in New York City.

Nimmo said: “I had been following events surrounding the disappearance of the students in the Mexican press and on Twitter and Facebook. As someone who had travelled in Guerrero, what happened to the students mattered to me and made it personal.

There have been 22,000 to 25,000 disappearances in Mexico over the last eight years, a ridiculously high number Jan Nimmo

“There have been 22,000 to 25,000 disappearances in Mexico over the last eight years, a ridiculously high number, but somehow the students going missing in Iguala not only got to me, but to many ordinary Mexicans.

“There was a call for illustrators to show solidarity – #IlustradoresConAyotzinapa – by Mexican illustrator Valeria Gallo and I responded.

“The idea was for the students to be identified as people, not statistics, and for artists to stand up and be counted in the call to know more about the whereabouts of the boys. With each portrait I have time to reflect on who they were/are, which towns and villages the come from, what their parents maybe feeling.”

The students’ disappearance was the biggest scandal to face Mexico’s President Enrique Peria Nieto and led to nationwide protests and international condemnation.

Nimmo aims to produce a ‘virtual book’ and wishes to host an event in Scotland later this year to raise awareness of the issue.

Violence gripped Mexico ahead of elections on June 7th with gunmen killed four candidates and kidnapped 15 people in Guerrero. The 15 went missing from the town of Chilapa which is less than 125 miles from Iguala, the city where the 43 students disappeared.

A version of this story appeared in the Sunday Mail on 31st May 2015.

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