The Coast News Group

MCC students hold vigil for 43 missing Mexican students

OCEANSIDE — Students at MiraCosta College set up a vigil by the central school library to bring attention to the 43 missing Mexican students, who have not been seen since September.

Associated Student Government (ASG) Vice President Brayan Astorga said efforts on Nov. 20 were sparked by students’ desire to help fellow students.

“We wanted to make it specifically on Nov. 20, Mexican Revolution Day,” Astorga said. “There were other silent protests happening (that day to support the missing students) around the world.”

Astorga said they hoped to spark interest in the students’ plight.

“We tried to educate, and initiate talk at MiraCosta,” Astorga said.

The ASG, Black Student Union and MEChA clubs set up photos of each of the missing students and lit candles around the fountain in the school’s central plaza. They also put up “missing” signs around campus.

“It is a student issue,” Astorga said. “They were shut down because they wanted to protest, and were students.”

“It could have happened to us.”

The display grabbed fellow MiraCosta students’ attention.

“It’s a very busy spot in our school,” Astorga said. “By 11:30 students were taking pictures.”

Later that day MiraCosta students joined California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) and Palomar College students in a march to Twin Oaks Valley Road to bring further attention to the situation.

Astorga said the missing Mexican college students were traveling by bus from Guerrero, Mexico, to Iguala, Mexico, to take part in a rally, and speak out against the wife of the Iguala mayor.

“The mayor heard of this, and sent local police to get rid of them,” Astorga said.

Mexico’s attorney general confirmed the mayor of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, handed the 43 students over to a drug gang to be executed.

All 43 students are males ranging from 18 to 25 years old, from the same college, and all hope to become teachers.

Astorga added a mass grave of badly burned bodies was found, but the remains have not been identified. Efforts are underway to identify the deceased through DNA. Many believe the bodies are those of the missing students.

Astorga said students’ families still have hope the students will be found alive. He added MiraCosta students also have hope, and will continue their efforts to raise awareness.

Astorga said all efforts have been student-driven.

Abarca and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda, were arrested in Mexico City on Nov. 4. Abarca has been charged with six counts of homicide. The missing students have not been found.