The massive New York marathon kicked off today with one of the 50,000 participants being a heart broken father, running in honor of his son.
In 2001, José Antonio Tizapa, left his native state of Guerrero in hopes of making it to the United States to secure a job to support his family. At the time, the father of three was 33 years old when he left to the U.S. without the benefit of documentation.
One of his three children, only 5 years old when Jose left Mexico, his son Jorge Antonio Tizapa Legideño. The father says despite the distance from NY where he settled, and Guerrero, he was able to keep in close contact with his son, thanks to the technology of today.
Jose was very proud of his son, who he says was studying to become a rural teacher, he was a student teacher, “a normalista”, who a year ago was attempting to decide, if he was going to remain in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, or transfer to the State of Mexico.
Jose recalls that on the night of September 26th, 2014, he sent an electronic message to his son, but received no reply. He says that drew concern as he knew his son was travelling to Mexico City to protest against the lack of funds the schools were promised and never given.
Later, his daughter telephoned Jose to tell him of the deadly attack against the normalistas as they
traveled through Iguala, Guerrero.
|Shirt reads; |
Your Son is My Son, and
My Son is Your Son" Ayotzinapa 43
“That’s when I knew something very bad had happened, I felt powerless because I couldn’t do anything about it.”
José began his life in New York as a construction helper, who became a plumber and lives in Brooklyn.
He proudly points to the relentless determination of his wife Hilda, who, last February, with the support of NGO’s and Non Profit Orgs, was able to travel to the UN Office in Geneva Switzerland.
She spoke to the Committee on Enforced Disappearances, asking them to investigate the ex-governor of Guerrero, Ángel Aguirre, and the negligence of the Mexican government in prosecuting the former mayor of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, for their role in the killings and disappearance of the 49 on the night of September 26.
She and the Guerrero delegation explained how for two years people of Guerrero had traveled to D.F. asking for help of the federal government in the killings and disappearances in Guerrero, and that the feds had directed them back to Guerrero saying “it is a state and municipal problem.”
Jose said of the Switzerland trip, “my child’s mother is the one standing tall for justice, the impunity of the powerful is simply incomprehensible”.
The father says the last time he had a conversation with his son was on the 23rd. “I like to run, so I sent him some pictures, telling him: Son, I’m going to run this 5-mile section. That was when a marathon coming up,”
“I told him: ‘When I’m done, I will send you pictures."
“I told him: ‘When I’m done, I will send you pictures."
“I want them to bring back my child. Many people say that the kids are dead, but we do not see it this way,” said the anguished father, who pointed out that the students were neither activists or opponents. “The Ayotzinapa school receives few subsidies, that’s what prompted them to put pressure on the government,” he said.
The father, has also participated in many demonstrations organized in New York in solidarity with the struggle of his wife Hilda and other Guerrero parents.
In the photo at top, Jose is with athlete Miguel Castro, who with Jose organized the “Ayotzinapa 43×43”: a 43-mile run between New Jersey, and New York.
“At this finish line, there were no trophies, “said Castro. “It’s was a nameless, silent run that symbolizes México’s pain.”
“No parent can endure the pain of months of uncertainty, not knowing what happened to your child, the rage and frustration of living in Mexico, a country of so much injustice”.
|Hilda at home where she raised her three children|
The real hero of this story, Jorge’s mother Hilda
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the true and tireless hero of this story, Hilda Ledigeno, mother of Jorge, and the wife left behind to raise three children 14 years ago.
It is she who struggled against poverty and racism in Guerrero, a state which I know well and one of the southern states in which people struggle the most, with little help from any level of government.
It is far and away from Brooklyn New York.
Perhaps it is unfair to judge, and certainly I have no inside knowledge of the personal story of this family. But I have been up close and personal to dozens of families living the story of dad leaving Guerrero, or Michoacán and travel north for jobs, with a plan of sending money back south to their families, and one day returning to Mexico. And sometimes this does happen.
But often the father assimilates to life in the U.S., acquires a new "wife" and family, discontinues sending support and closes the chapter of his life in Mexico.
I am not saying that is what has happened in this story. And obviously Jose remains close to his children, but it is what kept nagging at my mind when writing this story. I see Hilda’s humble home with cooking facilities outdoors, and it is Déjà vu for me, having just visited Guerrero and the very cities highlighted in the story of the normalistas. Seeing how many fatherless homes, mothers struggling, working wherever work can be found, for dismal pay, when the money from up north stops.
Those “fatherless” sons are not unlike the fatherless children of the U.S. “Idle hands are the devils workshop” as the old proverb says. It is an easy walk to the life of crime for children in these circumstances.
Hilda parented well, her children cared about education and making a difference. All the texts, skypes, snapchats in the world never replaces a hands on parent.
I will say, at least Jose kept a connection to his children, but he is not the hero of this story, it is all about Hilda.
Some material used in this post was accessed from: reforma, el diario, village voice, voice of ny