Letter from Mexico: disappearance of the student teachers and our responsibilities.

Protest in Mexico about the disappearance of the 43 student teachers in Guerrero State.

Protest in Mexico about the disappearance of the 43 student teachers in Guerrero State. From LAB. Click for the news article on the LAB site.

I received this from Mario Flores Lara, a Community Psychologist from Cuba who has also worked in Ecuador and who is currently in Mexico.  See his blog HERE.  I have translated it for the website with his permission.  It is a fairly loose translation: the angry poetic prose does not always translate direct.  Others with better Spanish might be able to suggest improvements.

Mario refers to an article in La Jornada that makes the connection between terrorist acts against civilian populations and the suppression of dissent.  This was seen in the Central American conflicts, in the US war on the Vietnamese people, and in the occupation of Iraq.  We see it in Palestine today.

Mario discusses what community psychologists can do in the face of such outrages.  Your contributions, thoughts, reactions and suggestions would be very welcome.

“10 November, 2014

“Friends, Comrades, Sisters and Brothers,

The events in Iguala-Ayotzinapa, here in Mexico paralyse us with pain and rage.

Impacts that go beyond the borders of Mexico.

Latin America and the world looks at this governmental barbarism with unease and alarm.

Murder by the system together with the usual impunity imply a process of discipline, control and submission through violence, fear and terror. The paralysis and immobilisation can also be seen in terms of this tactical and strategic objective.

Today (10 November, 2014) in the Mexican newspaper La Jornada, there is an interesting article from the journalist Carlos Fazio, which I think is well worth reading.

The aim is to paralyse the population through terror. The disappearances are one method, the principal pobjective was to break up any form of resistance and maintain the population in a state of harsh uncertainty…. The ultimate aim of the terrorist State is the discipline of the body politic.”

This text, and all the sad events of recent times, make me resonate with responsibility, both individual and community-social, that we all have. Each of us, wherever we are, can, however we may, with small yet great actions, denounce, express, while stubbornly continuing to build roads to dignity, respect and life.

The murder of the 43 trainee teachers, disappeared in Ayotzinapa, is an affront to all of Mexico, for all of Latin America and all the world: an affront that is both personal and collective.

A Chilean friend asked me, by email, “how can we offer solidarity from here?”, and it occurred to me personally to think that all initiatives of witness and denunciation are valid and necessary, and so creativity and courage continue to be a fundamental part of our resources and abilities: from being informed, putting up a poster at the entrance of the university, talking about the theme together, torchlight processions, writing to Mexican embassies, messages to Mexican student organisations …. and many others.

And taking the long view, I keep on thinking that social atomisation, individualism, loneliness, fear, immobilisation, can be seen as strategic objectives, established symptoms of a decadent and dehumanising economic and political model. Partial deaths of a culture of death that reaches its climax with these brutal murders: today Ayotzinapa, before Acteal [Chiapas, Mexico: massacre of 45 indigenous Tzotzil Zapatista supporters in 1997], Trelew [Argentina: collective execution of leftist and Peronist activists by the military government, 1972], Pando [ambush leading to death of at least 19 Bolivian peasants, likely part of a right wing coup attempt against the MAS government of Evo Morales after its 2008 victory], Ranquil [Chile, 1934: massacre of around 500 forestry workers and Mapuche residents, protesting against labour and colonisation practices], La Moneda [bombing of the Chilean Presidential Palace, and murder of Salvador Allende, 11 Sept, 1973].

And I continue thinking about our responsibilities and tasks, now and in the future: dwelling in conviviality, going with and from the heartbeat of communities, continue advancing social dialogues that draw upon difference and multiplicity, so that respect for human dignity becomes a real reality, as the right of all and for all, and not just for the privileged few; that as Latin Americans the ethical-moral duty of de-colonising ourselves from a modernity seen as a excluding, negating and dominating mono-cultural paradigm.

In the face of a culture of death, a culture for life.

And not just resisting, but coming up with alternatives and constructing them.”

Mario Flores Lara

Community Psychologist


Spanish original:

Los acontecimientos de Iguala-Ayotzinapa, acá en México, nos llenan de dolor, rabia y estupor. 
Impactos que han trascendido las fronteras de tierras mexicas. 
Latinoamérica y el mundo mira con desconcierto y alarma esta barbarie con rango de política de Estado.
El crimen sistemático y la impunidad consuetudinaria se propone el  disciplinamiento, control y sometimiento mediante la violencia, el miedo y el terror. La paralización e inmovilidad se dibuja también como su horizonte táctico-estratégico.
Hoy en el periódico La Jornada (http://www.jornada.unam.mx/ultimas) aparece un interesante artículo del periodista Carlos Fazio, que creo vale la pena leer: “El propósito era paralizar a la población mediante el terror. Los desaparecidos eran un medio; el objetivo principal era desarticular cualquier forma de resistencia y mantener a la población en una incertidumbre duradera.” “La finalidad del Estado terrorista es el disciplinamiento del cuerpo social.” 
Este texto, y todos los tristes acontecimientos del último tiempo, me hacen resonar en la responsabilidad individual-singular y social-comunitaria que todxs tenemos: Cada unx dónde esté, cómo pueda, cómo quiera, con pequeñas-grandes acciones, para denunciar, para expresar, para seguir proponiendo y porfiadamente construyendo caminos de dignidad, respeto y vida.
Los asesinados y los 43 normalistas desaparecidos de Ayotzinapa son una afrenta para México, para toda América Latina y para el mundo. Una afrenta personal y colectiva.
Una amiga chilena me preguntaba ayer por correo “¿cómo nos podemos solidarizar desde acá?”, y en lo personal se me ocurre pensar que todas las iniciativas de denuncia son válidas y necesarias, y que entonces la creatividad y el coraje siguen siendo parte fundamental de nuestros recursos y capacidades: desde estar informadxs, pegar una cartulina a la entrada de la universidad, conversar el tema en colectivo, un plantón relámpago, usar las redes ciber, escribir a las embajadas mexicanas, mensajes a las organizaciones estudiantiles mexicanas… y así un etcétera sin cotos…
Y con la “mirada larga” sigo sentipensando que la atomización, el individualismo, la soledad, el miedo, la inmovilidad, están trazados como objetivos estratégicos y se erigen como síntomas de un modelo político-económico decadente y deshumanizante. Muertes parciales de una cultura de la muerte que alcanza su paroxismo en estos brutales asesinatos masivos: hoy Ayotzinapa, antes Acteal, Trelew, Pando, Ranquil, La Moneda…
Y se me antoja continuar pensando en nuestras responsabilidades y tareas presentes-futuras: Habitar las grupalidades; Latir en-con-desde las comunidades; Seguir avanzando en los diálogos sociales sustentados en la diferencia y multiplicidad; Que sea realidad real el respeto a la dignidad humana como Derecho de todxs y para todxs y no sólo para algunxs privilegiadxs; Que como latinoamericanxs tenemos el deber ético-moral de descolonizarnos de una Modernidad como paradigma monocultural excluyente, negador y dominador…
Ante una cultura de la muerte, una CULTURA DE LA VIDA.
Ya no sólo resistir, sino proponer y construir.
Mario Flores Lara
Psicólogo Comunitario

New Pacifica Institute Newsletter on Community Psychology, Liberation Psychology, & Ecopsychology

This newsletter is becoming a useful resource on Liberation psychology and its connections with related fields of study and struggle.  Did you know, for example that despite Bhutan touting its high levels of “Gross National Happiness” (as an alternative to the flawed Gross National Product), its military has murdered, raped, tortured and/or imprisoned many citizens, some of whom are now refugees in other places.  The newsletter includes an article on work with Bhutanese refugees in the USA.  I’m looking forward to the book that will appear this autumn by Mary Watkins and Ed Casey on the Mexico-USA border wall.  They have recently visited  Palestine to learn about the parallels with the apartheid separation wall erected by the Israeli occupation power.  There are many other interesting things in this 36 page edition, with a lot of emphasis on ecological issues and indigenous traditions and knowledge.


A year later, no progress in the Mexican disappearances | ¡NO MAS VICTIMAS!

A year later, no progress in investigating the disappearance of three youths in Paracho | ¡NO MAS VICTIMAS! (NO MORE VICTIMS!.

Sadly just over a year after the disappearance of three young professionals, tow of them psychologists, in Paracho, Michoacán, Mexico, thre is still no word of what happened to them.  The above link is to the website that covers their disappearance and the inaction, or likely complicity of the local authorities.  It’s a reminder that in some places those committed to a better world do run significant risks.

If you haven’t signed the petition (link from the site) then please do as it is one way of reminding the families they are not alone and the authorities that we are watching them.



Update on our disappeared Mexican colleagues


Luis Enrique “Kike”

Diego (“Toño”)

Unfortunately there is still no more news about Luis Enrique Castañeda Nava,  Diego Antonio Maldonado and  Ana Belem Sánchez, who were forcibly removed from their hotel in Paracho, Michoacán, Mexico in July.  There is strong suggestion of complicity by the State authorities and this update in English from No Más Víctimas brings us up to date on the case and on the campaign.
If you haven’t already please sign the petition to the authorities at http://www.change.org/petitions/ay%C3%BAdenos-a-encontrar-a-ana-bel%C3%A9m-s%C3%A1nchez-diego-maldonado-y-luis-casta%C3%B1eda
If the suspension of a professor of psychology (who drew the kidnap in Paracho to our attention) can obtain 3,000 signatures on the same site, surely the international psychological community can together achieve at least this level of support for these young colleagues in mortal danger – at present the number of signatures is 750.


Disappeared Mexican Psychologists: Statement from Critical Psychology Symposium in Turkey

Statement agreed following discussion at the Third Critical Psychology Symposium (Diyarbakir, Turkey).  It has been forwarded to those in Mexico campaigning for a proper investigation into the disappearance of Ana Belén, Diego and Enrique Luis.  The Spanish translation follows the English and a Turkish version is also available.

We, the participants of the Third Critical Psychology Symposium (Diyarbakir, Turkey) in the name of TODAP, the Association of Psychologists for Social Solidarity, want to register our support for the recent calls on the authorities in the State of Michoacán, Mexico and other relevant authorities in Mexico to investigate the forced disappearance of Ana Belén Sánchez Mayorga, Diego Antonio Maldonado Castañeda and Enrique Luis Castañeda Nava, on 22th July in Paracho after taking part in the Festival of Balloons of Cantoya.

Ana Belén Sánchez Mayorga and Diego Antonio Maldonado Castañeda are psychology students at the Autonomous University of Mexico City.

 We urge the authorities to investigate this case immediately.

 Nosotros, participantes del Tercer Symposio de la Psicología Crítica (Diyarbakir, Turquía) en nombre de TODAP La Asociacón de Psicólogos para la Solidaridad Social, queríamos registrar nuestro apoyo por los llamamientos recientes a los autoridades en el Estado de Michoacán, México y otros autoridades relevantes del país que investiguen la desaparición forzada de Ana Belén Sánchez Mayorga, Diego Antonio Maldonado Castañeda y Enrique Luis Castañeda Nava, el 22 de julio en Paracho, Michoacán después de participar en el Festival de Globos de Cantoya.

Ana Belén Sánchez Mayorga y Diego Antonio Maldonado Castañeda son estudiantes de la carera de psicología en la Universidad Autónoma de la Ciudad de México.
Llamarmos que las autoridades hayan investigación del delito sin demora.
16 September 2012

The symposium in Divarbakir was attended by some 370 people and the agreement to send the statement of support made at the final plenary session.  The symposium over two days was sponsored by the municipality of the largely Kurdish city and it focussed on social trauma.  There were two sessions that presented the ideas of Liberation psychology presented by Güneș Kyacı and  Özge Yılmaz, and by Mark Burton.  there was coniderable interst, especially given the similarities between the social contexts of Turkey and much of Latin America.


More information on disappeared psychologists in Mexico

A bit more information on the case. See the article that appeared today, below. This states the facts of the case. It is also worth adding that the State authorities in Michoacán have not been answering calls from family of the 3 who were kidnapped.

We know that 2 of the three (Ana Belén and Diego) are psychology students at the Autonomous University of Mexico City. The three are members of the Citizens Movement: Luis Enrique is also the coordinator for the Federal District (i.e. Greater Mexico City) Youth Movement, responsible for the circle for study of progressive and director for the inter-party accord. He is also at the same University where he studies communications.

There are also some posts in English (and more in Spanish) at http://nomasvictimas.org/http://nomasvictimas.org/

The petition site is still live at http://www.change.org/es/peticiones/ay%C3%BAdenos-a-encontrar-a-ana-bel%C3%A9m-s%C3%A1nchez-diego-maldonado-y-luis-casta%C3%B1edahttp://www.change.org/es/peticiones/ay%C3%BAdenos-a-encontrar-a-ana-bel%C3%A9m-s%C3%A1nchez-diego-maldonado-y-luis-casta%C3%B1eda

The following article is from La Jornada, a reliable Mexican daily newspaper La Jornada 13 Sept. Morelia Michoacán, Mexico

Families of three young people, Ana Belén Sánchez Mayorga, Diego Antonio Maldonado Castañeda y Enrique Luis Castañeda Nava, forcibly ‘disappeared’ on 22th July in the municiplaity of Paracho after taking art in the Festival of Balloons of Cantoya, went to the Michoacán State Procurator for Justice Office (State Attorney) to press for the matter to be investigated. It is known that the three were taken from the hotel where they were were staying and that the hotel administration did not report the incident to the authorities. The three young people, from Mexico city, were sent by the company KidScience, contracted by the State Council for Science, Technology, and Innovation, so that they could provide a workshop before the balloon festival. They arrived Wednesday 18th of July and lodged at the Santa Fe Hotel in the centre of Paracho. They delivered the course for children during the next three days and on Saturday 22nd, in the evening, after the inauguration of the festival, were in the bar of the hotel where it seems they were in argument with persons who tried to molest the young woman who is a psychologist. The individuals left but hours later arrived with an armed group which took the three from their rooms by force. The hotel administration was maintained silence and closed the hotel for two weeks. Unofficial sources say assert that the kidnappers were members of a criminal band that operates in the area of the Purépacha plateau. Laura Beatriz Castañeda, mother of Diego, confirmed in a telephone interview that the staff of the State Procurator’s office only said that it is possible that the victims are alive, because bodies have not been found. Then she was taken out via a back door and taken to the bus station to leave without talking to the press.

translation MB original article at http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/09/14/estados/042n2est


action alert: Disappearance of three psychologists in Paracho, Mexico

Disappearance of three psychologists in Paracho, Mexico

Please send a version of the following letter via both rober.me[AT]bol.com.br and I.A.Parke[AT]mmu.ac.uk  substituting @ for [AT]

To whom it may concern:

We want to register our support for the recent calls on the authorities in the town of Paracho, Michoacan State of Mexico and other relevant authorities in Mexico to investigate the disappearance on Wednesday 18th July 2012 of three psychologists Ana Belén Sánchez Mayorga, Diego A Maldonado and Luis Enrique Castañeda Nava. These three were visiting the town to give a science workshop at the Balloon Festival at the invitation of the Paracho Community Cultural Centre and the local government.
Blood and signs of struggle in the hotel from where they were abducted have not been taken seriously by the police. Petitions have been signed, and letters of support sent from inside Mexico and abroad. We are aware that a national demonstration took place in Mexico City on the 1st September. We ask that this disappearance of our colleagues is taken seriously.

Please send a version of the above letter via both rober.me[AT]bol.com.br and I.A.Parker[AT]mmu.ac.uk  substituting @ for [AT]

More on the case at – http://nomasvictimas.org/abduction/