Review: The Iguala 43 by Sergio Gonzalez Rodriguez
On September 26th, 2014, a group of 43 student protestors from a Rural Teacher’s College traveled to the city of Iguala in the southern state of Guerrero, Mexico. The following day, all 43 students would “be disappeared”, a term which has become all too familiar to the people of Mexico, and two years of deception, omission, and confusion surrounding the events would begin.
The Iguala 43, Sergio Gonzalez Rodriguez’s recently released, poignantly timed investigation begins not where the official investigation concluded, but rather where it dared not go at all. Delving into the historic, political and socio-economic struggles of the region, Rodriguez chronicles the conditions which not only facilitated the massacre of 43 students, but have (and continue to) contributed to a surge in violence across Mexico as a whole.
Rodriguez is no stranger to confrontational journalism, beginning his career with investigations into the femicide which occurred in the early 2000’s near the Juarez/El Paso border region, and once again his well informed critiques spare few. Focusing on the glaring contradictions between the Official Investigation, testimony of eye witnesses, local experts, and his own knowledge of Mexico’s economic/political underbelly, Rodriguez dissects the tragic story beyond the headlines in an effort to expose the muddled intersections of cartel activity, revolutionary political factions, State, and Federal officials. It’s familiar territory to Rodriguez and it shows, both in the thoroughness of his investigation, as well as the bereaved, almost anguished tone which seeps from the text.
There is a surreal lucidity to Rodriguez’s work which aptly expresses the everyday nature of these atrocities; the tired ambivalence of a people inundated with loss, revolutionary hopes, and a corrupt reality. Although the unanswered questions of yesterday’s killings and disappearances often meld into one another within the region, Rodriguez deliberately defies the reduction of human lives to statistic fodder, opting for a humanistic depiction of loss, which only deepen his convictions. Through the exploration of “historical truths” situated within the dialectics of economic and political power, Rodriguez has presented a book which is relevant to any struggle for human dignity and value, be it 43 students in Iguala or hundreds of missing and murdered Indigenous women in western Canada. It’s a book about the ways in which greed reduces humans to inputs; how the financial interests of the few negatively impact the many; how the political and economic status-quo has shifted our value of human life and agency. As Rodriguez says himself:
“[…] atrocity occurs as if it were nothing. In the name of ideologies and institutions, human statutes are crushed. […] This story is being repeated around the world, but we refuse to see it. If anyone doubts or denies this, then I challenge them to finish this book.” – (Page 14)
Reviewed by Brendan