Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 is National Hispanic American Heritage Month and in the middle is one of the worst tragedies and greatest mysteries of this day, the missing 43. 

On Sept. 26, 2014, five buses of hopeful students from the all-male college in Ayotzinapa, Mexico traveled to Iguala to protest “discriminatory practices for teachers”, BBC said. The Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers College was known for its “left-wing tendencies” and regularly went to and participated in protests.  

BBC also said the students had plans to go to Mexico City for the anniversary of the 1968 Tlatelolco Massacre, a historical event where students were murdered by capital security forces.  

Those students would tragically share the same fate in 2014.  

While on the way back to Ayotzinapa, municipal police opened fire on the buses. Police maintain that they had done so because the buses had been hijacked. However, surviving students say the drivers had agreed to give the students a ride.  

In the crossfire, a bus carrying a soccer team and a woman travelling by taxi were also shot at. The woman, a soccer player, and the bus driver were killed.  

Three of the students from the college were killed that night, two shot on the bus while another was found mutilated the following morning near the scene.  

Afterward, 43 students were reported missing. 

An investigation purported that the students had been seized by the municipal police force and taken to the local police station in Cocula, a nearby town. Allegedly, corrupt law enforcement then handed the students over to a local gang which then murdered, burned and disposed of the student’s remains in a stream.  

The investigation was heavily criticized, and the attorney general Jesus Murillo Karam was arrested for obstructing justice, torture and forced disappearance.  

Of those 43 missing students, only six have been identified through remains. The location is inconclusive due to the false investigation. Student Alexander Mora's (19 at the time) burned remains were said to be found at a dump in Cocula. 


Earlier this summer, the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) reported that the location is not certain, despite the original investigation's claims. The GIEI has also concluded its investigation according to NBC News, but Mexican President Andres Mauel Lopez Obrador said he will keep investigating.  

Another disturbing find the GIEI reported was the collaboration between municipal police, Navy, and Army to manipulate the reports.  

This story is told every year, and there seems to be more and less answers at the same time. With the GEIE investigation officially over, there is no saying what will happen or if the case will continue to run cold.  

In Southern Utah, Utah Tech University honors and remembers the 43 students every year. For the third year in a row, the “Remember the 43 Students” installation will be back on campus along with artist Jan Nimmo’s portraits of the 43, a UT press release said.  

Utah Tech University
Utah Tech University

UT will also be hosting MIT historian Tanalis Padilla who will speak on the anniversary of the incident at noon in the Zion room on campus. Padilla has expertise in the teacher’s college system in Mexico and has written extensively about it, the press release said. This includes the college of the 43 in Ayotzinapa. 

The art instillations will be on display on campus starting Sept. 15 through Oct. 6.  The opening ceremony will be held on Sept. 18 at 3 p.m. in the Eccles Lobby.  

Utah Tech University
Utah Tech University

“As the ninth anniversary of the atrocity approaches, standing in support of justice is even more important,” said Stephen Lee, organizer of the installation and dean of Utah Tech’s College of Humanities & Social Sciences. “I hope that visitors will engage in the complex issues of political violence and economic inequalities and continue to focus on the 43 lost students, to see themselves in the 43.” 

For those interested, there is also a show on Netflix detailing the events.


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