Entertainment

After Years, A Netflix Documentary Is Digging Into The True Story Behind The Disappearance Of The Ayotzinapa Students

In September 2014, a group of progressive students organized to attend an annual protest of a student massacre that occurred decades before. On their way there, half a dozen municipal police forces were seemingly organized and attacked the buses with four hours of gunfire. Half the students survived. Forty-three went missing.

In the days and weeks after, nobody could have imagined the absolute worst-case scenario could happen: that the Mexican government was responsible and wouldn’t deliver any kind of investigation or closure for the parents of “The 43.” Netflix’s new docu-series “The 43” does what nobody else has to uncover the tragic mystery. Here’s our synopsis.

On September 26, 2014, a group of 100 students boarded buses to Mexico City to demand justice for the Tlatelolco massacre.

Credit: The 43 / Netflix

For decades, students have organized to arrive in Mexico City in time for the annual October 2nd protest. Every year, the state attempts to block students from arriving in Mexico City. So, every year, the students describe a tradition of “hijacking” buses to make it to Mexico City. Bus drivers expect it. Towns expect it. It’s much more like they’re hitchhiking en masse. Half the students make it onto one bus and the others make it on another. One bus driver said he’d take them to Mexico City after he dropped off his passengers in Iguala.

It was a normal day until one bus driver locked the students inside.

Credit: The 43 / Netflix

Instead of dropping them outside the station, he went into the bus station and locked them inside the bus. The students trapped inside called their friends in the other bus and told them they were locked up. Worried for their friends, the students had the second bus driver be diverted to Iguala. 

Enrique García tells us what happened next.

Credit: The 43 / Netflix

The students arrive in Iguala to rescue their friends from the locked bus. Reunited, they split up into five smaller groups to get on buses headed to Mexico City. By this time, authorities arrive at the bus station and enter into a confrontation. The students rush onto the buses and all the drivers drive away. Three buses head off unscathed. Another two buses had different outcomes.

Juan’s bus was blocked by a patrol car just outside the city.

Credit: The 43 / Netflix

So the students got out of the bus and started pushing the patrol car out of the way. Then, they heard gunshots and saw their friend Aldo get shot in the head. The students rushed back into the bus to take coverage from the gunfire, shouting, “No tenemos armas!” We don’t have any weapons!

Patrol cars had surrounded Juan’s bus and refused to let an ambulance get to Aldo.

Credit: The 43 / Netflix

Aldo laid there with a bullet in his head for 45 minutes before an ambulance was permitted to bring him to the hospital. It wasn’t until a group of brave students decided to risk their lives to carry Aldo out past the patrol cars to the ambulance. The rest of the students on that bus go missing.

Meanwhile, the other bus is also facing gunfire.

Credit: The 43 / Netflix

One student is shot in the face and bleeding profusely. The students are able to escape and scatter among different homes.

At midnight, they decide to call some journalists in fear the State would cover up their crimes by morning.

Credit: The 43 / Netflix

Most journalists wouldn’t show up because “the government said it was too dangerous.” This journalist did show up and had to hide from gunfire. He suspects that assault rifles were used, given the size of the bullets on the ground. Other students found refuge in a gracious man’s house, who said that the “official” truck they escaped from was a “pirate truck.” It allegedly picks up people. 

The students who escaped authorities fled to a hospital which then called the authorities on them.

Credit: The 43 / Netflix

One of the students, Edgar, was bleeding badly from a bullet wound to his face. A few minutes after speaking with hospital staff, the police arrived and started beating the students. Then, as if the commander received an order, he apologized to the students. He said they received notice of an armed home invasion and, “how were they supposed to know they aren’t criminals?”

In that same neighborhood, a soccer team was traveling by bus when police stopped them and killed a 14-year-old boy.

Credit: The 43 / Netflix

This survivor walked outside the bus after the driver was shot and drove off the road. His assistant told police that they were just soccer players. He was shot twice—one bullet going through his liver.  Then, they heard one officer say, “Commander, we f***ed up. They’re just a soccer team.”

By the morning, six had been confirmed dead and 57 were missing.

Funerals were planned and attended, with 57 boys still missing. One boy saw 20 students put into a police van and never seen again. Many believe that the attack was organized by the mayor of Iguala, José Luis Abarca Velázquez, and his wife.

The students allegedly planned to interrupt the mayor’s wife political campaign event, and it angered José Luis Abarca Velázquez.

Credit: The 43 / Netflix

It’s suspected that he unilaterally ordered police forces from several different surrounding cities to fire at the students for four hours straight. The mayor then requested a 30-day leave from office and entirely disappeared.

That planned October 2nd protest then became a protest demanding the students be returned alive.

Credit: The 43 / Netflix

The mothers of the children were interviewed and reportedly had “sentidos malos” about what happened. The government was saying that the boys were just afraid and in hiding and that they’d all return home eventually. They put the blame on the boys for going up against authorities.

Three days later, two pits were found with 28 bodies, suspected to be the students.

Credit: The 43 / Netflix

The following day, the governor speedily announced that the bodies don’t belong to the students. Within days, two more pits were found, bringing the body count up to 43. By October 18, the governor announced the arrest of Sidronio Casarrubias Salgado, the alleged leader of a gang named Guerreros Unidos.

The ultimate plot twist is that the students accidentally hijacked a bus that was shipping millions of dollars of heroin by a drug lord.

Credit: The 43 / Netflix

After investigative journalists discovered that police records didn’t include the names of the children but focused entirely on the license plate numbers, they wondered why? What’s so important about these two buses out of the six that the students ultimately commandeered? 

A drug lord ordered the mayor to make sure he got his product back “by any means necessary.” 

Credit: The 43 / Netflix

At the end of the day, the state was complicit in the cover-up of their own corruption with the drug cartel. The police killed those 43 students and dumped their bodies in one of the many pits that were eventually uncovered around the city. Systemic corruption and cartel-state issued murders were uncovered as the result of one of the most horrific crimes in Mexican history.

Only two bodies have been confirmed recovered.

Credit: The 43 / Netflix

The families continue to grieve the fate of their sons. At least 80 suspects have been arrested, more than half of whom were police officers. The official version of the story by the state of Guerrero directly contradicts the survivors’ testimony. It’s been four years.

READ: International Figures Are Questioning The Interviews Conducted By Mexican Officials In The Ayotzinapa Missing 43 Case

Mexican Couple Hailed As Heroes For Saving 10 Dogs From Flooding Caused By Hurricane Hanna

Culture

Mexican Couple Hailed As Heroes For Saving 10 Dogs From Flooding Caused By Hurricane Hanna

Betty Vaquera Escandón / Facebook

Hurricane Hanna slammed into Texas and Mexico on July 26 as a Category 1 hurricane. Yet, the most resilient story to come from Mexico is that of a couple who rescued some sweet puppies. Their ingenuity is something that will make every Mexican proud.

This is one of the most touching moments from Hurrican Hanna.

Mis papás perdieron todo… pero lograron sacar sus bebés 😭

Posted by Betty Vaquera Escandón on Sunday, July 26, 2020

That’s right. Those sweet puppies owe it all to the loving couple who took them into their bucket and rescued them. We have seen so many heartbreaking images over the years of animals abandoned to die when places flood during hurricanes.

The videos, posted by the couple’s daughter, is being accepted with so much love and excitement.

This is a fact. These people are some of the most compassionate people by saving these puppies. Who wouldn’t want to take the time to make sure that their furbabies are okay?

She posted a follow up live video when the flooding subsided to show just how damaging it was.

Posted by Betty Vaquera Escandón on Monday, July 27, 2020

The storm dropped 18 inches of rain on southern Texas and northern Mexico. The video shows damage throughout the couple’s home and the daughter was there to document it all for them. It is clear from the level of the water that there was nothing else that could have bee done to protect these little puppies.

They did another follow up just to thank everyone.

Posted by Betty Vaquera Escandón on Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Just like any good Latino couple, they thanked everyone who has reached out to them. It is truly such a sweet and wonderful story. We will forever keep this couple in our hearts because of everything they did.

Tbh, it would be so hard not to protect these angels.

Mi antidepresivo 🐶🐶🥰💕 #Elmilaneso

Posted by Betty Vaquera Escandón on Friday, July 10, 2020

We can only hope to be as selfless and important as this couple.

READ: Hurricane Hanna Battered Texas But Did It Actually Knock Over Part Of Trump’s Border Wall?

The Coronavirus Is Starting To Hit Mexico’s Poorest Communities And The Results Could Be Devastating

Things That Matter

The Coronavirus Is Starting To Hit Mexico’s Poorest Communities And The Results Could Be Devastating

Hector Vivas / Getty Images

Mexico has been ravaged by the Coronavirus pandemic. That’s a fact. It now ranks fourth globally in terms of deaths related to the virus, with nearly 50,000 dead. However, many of those cases and deaths have largely been centered on the country’s large cities – including Ciudad de México, Guadalajara and Tijuana.

That appears to be changing as many of Mexico’s most remote and poorest pueblos – most inhabited by Indigenous communities – have started to see the virus appear on their doorsteps. With many rural pueblitos lacking access to healthcare and many having extreme rates of poverty, this could spell disaster for Mexico’s most vulnerable communities.

Mexico’s poorest village has its first case of Coronavirus and this could be devastating for locals.

Mexico’s rural pueblitos, largely home to Indigenous communities, had mostly escaped the worst of the Coronavirus pandemic. For months, as the virus raged across the country, Mexico’s Indigenous communities enacted their own checkpoints and lockdowns and roadblocks that helped contain the virus’ spread. However, that strategy seems to have reached a dead end as new reports of Covid-19 emerge from Mexico’s poorest and most rural communities.

In Oaxaca, the village of Santos Reyes Yucuná – which is Mexico’s poorest, reported its first case of the virus on July 17, four months after the pandemic reached Mexico. The virus took longer to find its way to this remote, Mixtec community located 140 miles from the state’s capital due to its lack of infrastructure, especially roads.

Santos Reyes Yucuná is especially vulnerable to virus. The government’s social development agency (CONEVAL) estimates that 99.9% of the 1,380 residents live in extreme poverty. The region has no hospital and most residents do not have health insurance or the means to travel to a hospital in another area. Another town in Oaxaca’s Mixteca region, Coicoyán de las Flores, is in a similar situation with similar levels of poverty. One case of the Coronavirus was reported last month and the patient, a 25-year-old woman, died. 

Last weekend, 23 new cases of Covid-19 were registered in the Mixteca region, for a total of 482 positive cases and at least 48 reported deaths. The area’s municipal seat, Huajuapan, has the highest number of cases at 30, with three people hospitalized. 

Many rural communities had been labeled ‘Communities of Hope’ and were allowed to reopen early to avoid severe economic costs.

As the Coronavirus first arrived to Mexico, many leaders of rural pueblitos were quick to enact strict preventive measures, closing food markets and installing health checkpoints and roadblocks. But as the economic effects began to be felt, the government launched a program known as the “Municipalities of Hope.”

The program included 324 towns that the government decided were eligible to reopen early. The plan allowed places with no Covid-19 cases – and with no cases in surrounding areas – to start lifting restrictions, in an attempt to mitigate the shutdown’s devastating economic impact.

But just a couple of months later, that list has dwindled to just a few dozen villages. One town – Ometepec, Guerrero, lasted less than 14 days on the list. “In just a few weeks, we went from zero to 47 confirmed cases and six dead,” said Ulises Moreno Tabarez, a postdoctoral researcher who lives in the town.

According to Dr Carlos Magis Rodríguez, a professor of medicine and a public health researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, a lack of serious lockdown measures doomed the strategy from the beginning. “If there were strict control of entrances and exits, a quarantine upon arrival, it could have worked,” Magis Rodríguez told Reforma. “The places this has worked are practically islands.”

But less than two months later, Mexico has become one of the worst-affected countries in the world.

Credit: Toya Sarno Jordan / Getty Images

As of July 29, Mexico has more than 400,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 44,876 people have died from the virus. Mexico now ranks 6th globally in number of cases and 4th in number of deaths. And these numbers are widely seen as under reporting the severity of the crisis. Mexico has one of the lowest testing rates in the world, at approximately 2.5 tests per confirmed case, compared with the U.S. rate of 12.52, the UK’s 22.57 – and New Zealand’s rate of 359.2.

Meanwhile, Mexico’s weak healthcare system is underfunded; hospitals attribute a large number of coronavirus deaths to faulty equipment and a lack of resources rather than the virus itself. The country is in no way equipped to provide unemployment benefits or stimulus checks to almost half of the population that lives in poverty. Furthermore, many informal workers lack health insurance. The country has very little in the way of a safety net, so many are forced to decide risking their health or risk going hungry.

Mexicans are not alone as countries across Latin America have failed to support their citizens.

Credit: Hector Vivas / Getty Images

Across Latin America, poor families have faced an impossible choice – between obeying quarantine measures and starving, or venturing out to work despite the danger of infection.

But unlike other leaders, Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has not introduced stimulus measures to help the most vulnerable communities, instead his government has pushed through a string of severe austerity measures – even as he emphasized the need for the economy to stay open.

The president has also downplayed the pandemic – claiming in April that Mexico had “tamed” the virus – and repeatedly emphasized the need for the economy to stay open, striking a notably more relaxed tone than warnings from the country’s Covid-19 tsar, Hugo López-Gatell.