6 months after disappearance of Ayotzinapa students, the fire fades in Mexico

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The kidnaping and murder of the 43 Ayotzinapa college students on Sept. 26, 2014 triggered a massive wave of protests across Mexico late last year, sparking a political crisis and an awakening among tens of thousands of Mexicans from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Now, six months on, the demonstrations have dissipated.

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Mexicans, who have seen this story before, appear to be losing hope that change will come to the long-suffering Aztec nation.

On Thursday, a few thousand demonstrators marched across 10 states to put on a brave face in commemoration of the six-month anniversary of the Ayotzinapa tragedy. Here's what some of the protesters had to say during the march on Mexico City:

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María Elena Guerrero Vázquez, mother of Ayotzinapa victim Giovanni Guerrero.

"We will not rest until we find our children. A mother's pain has turned into fury against this government. It has taken so much from us, and now it has also taken away our fear. We are no longer afraid. We will keep fighting and that's why I ask you to keep joining us so we can defeat this damn government that took our children. Their only crime was to study… I ask parents and other students to be conscious, raise your voices. Because tomorrow it could be you, or your grandchildren, and we shouldn't allow that. I ask you that you keep supporting us and that you don't leave us alone and that we continue to fight to find our sons."

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Miguel Barrera Rocha Marabúnta, leader of the DDHH Marabunta, a human rights organization.

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"This country is trying to minimize in a systematic way what happened in Ayotzinapa. It's trying to inhibit the emotions of the victims' families and the people who are joining this call for justice… The number of people who are turning up at the demonstrations is diminishing… Deep down there's not a desire from the authorities to achieve justice and that is sad and unfortunate."

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Alicia Mercado, accountant.

"In 1968 the government disappeared and killed many students. It's not the first time the ruling party has disappeared youngsters; with the return of the PRI we are in the same place we where before."

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Ernesto Gómez Martinez, priest.

"Our lord Jesus Christ was always in favor of peace, but a peace that guarantees the rights of the poor… The violence and barbarie has gotten out of control. We must not continue to accept this as normal. I believe the parents of Ayotzinapa are an example of courage, conscience and what we must do to change this country. I now believe that in this country it is a crime to be a young man, a young man who thinks."

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Carlos Adrian Campos Granados, protester who brought his young son Carlos to the march.

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"My son understands injustice. I believe it's important that he knows this injustice; change will come and he will be part of the generations that will spark that change."

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Fernando Peña Cartón, a college student who came to the protest with his brother.

"It could have been me, my brother or a loved one. I would't want to be in their shoes, that's why I came to show my support… Right now there are not a lot of students who are marching… I don't want my family to remain indifferent."

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Valentina López,  H.I.J.O.S. Mexico organization, a group originally created in Argentina to denounce the disappearances that occurred during the military dictatorship there.

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"There's not a lot of optimism right now. The mobilizations have wound down… I don't know what will happen next. Clearly there hasn't been progress, the number of disappearances have increased throughout the country and for the time being we can only continue taking to the streets… We need to avoid the demobilization that's happening."

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Itamdegui, mother.

"I think the government is instilling fear, especially during this election season. People are tired because they think this isn't going anywhere, but they must understand that although revolution is slow, it brings better things… There's always a risk when we bring children to the marches, but we try to remain peaceful."

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Pablo Héctor González Loyola (white shirt), member of the civic group Felipe Carillo Puerto.

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"We hope that this can go beyond merely protesting, that popular organizations and assemblies are consolidated and that an independent organization is created to displace the ruling elites who have put us in this situation."

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Michel, theatre student.

"The only thing we can do is come and support in some way… Social demonstrations exert some pressure and its a way to demonstrate the people's discontent and for the people to come together… It's a way of doing something."

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Julia Klug, activist.

"After Ayotzinapa people have united more…We know this oppressive government doesn't see or hear us. We only exist to them so we can pay taxes and so they can have good salaries."

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Karen Reyes Zaragoza, student.

"Nothing has changed. The government is the same one from 30 years ago and Mexicans easily forget about past events… People are forgetting the history of this country… We need change from the ground up… Students are getting fed-up that nothing comes out of these demonstrations. Past protests used to be huge, this is nothing in comparison."

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Jesús Robles Malof, human-rights activist.

"They will ask us in the future, 'What did you do when your country was bleeding?' At least I want to answer that I walked, I was there, I tried."

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Maya, student.

"Nothing has changed… In the rest of the world people believe nothing is happening in Mexico, like the president says… But the economy is falling apart, there's corruption… Things are going from bad to worst… We must show the world and our own country what is really happening."

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Alejandro Solalinde, a Catholic priest who has been an active voice in the movement.

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"I'm rebelling against a simulation and a government that acts like nothing is happening… A lot has changed after Ayotzinapa, they have imposed a new Attorney General and Supreme Court president, we have more impunity and corruption but we also have positive things. Many people have opened their eyes."

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Laura Sotelo, mother.

"Parents deserve to at least have their children's bodies… People who were sleeping have awoken. We must continue fighting; if we stop now these six months will have been for nothing."

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Carmen, mother.

"I don't event want to imagine what it feels like to lose a child… We don't deserve the government we have, we don't deserve what is happening… The moment has come and something needs to trigger an action… The citizenry is changing… People are changing… Ayotzinapa was the last straw."

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Bernabé Abraján, father of one of the Ayotzinapa victims.

"It's painful as parents… My son had a wife and two kids… We parents, we'll continue fighting until we find them and we won't stop. We'll continue marching… If the government doesn't serve justice, the people will."

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Freelance Photographer.
Interested in social justice, human rights, women voices, travelling and learning.
Currently working on a project about women migration from Central America and Mexico to the US.