Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Who are the Normalistas? Radicals? Revolutionaries? Communists?

A Normalista Protester
The Government has tried to spin a perception that  the students from the Escuela Normal of Ayotzinapa fall into one of the categories above;  “Radical, Revolutionaries, or Communist”.

A "normal" school is a college, usually a 2 year college, to train high school graduates to become teachers.  The use of the term to describe teachers colleges goes back to the 16th century.

In the US, the term has mostly been dropped from the name of the school and they are typically called Teachers Colleges.  In Mexico the term is still used and they are mostly located in poor areas and the students are mostly from the indigenous communities.

Students at those schools are typically called "Normalistas".

What seems to be missing from all the confusing and sometimes conflicting stories on the massacre in Iguala and the aftermath is any mention of who these students are, and what their disappearance (I have no doubt they’ve been murdered) means. 

These kids were the best and the brightest of very poor families, most of them from indigenous communities.  It was a sacrifice on the parts of their families to even send their sons (and most were young men, though a few are women) to lose their labor while the students themselves lived in appalling conditions BY CHOICE.  There were not pampered college kids… these were young men and women on a mission.

We are told by the government and the media (following the government spin) that these students were “radicals”, 

But if you look at the big picture, they are radical only in the sense that educating the poor is a radical idea, and educating minorities is “radical”.  If the rural normal schools have a reputation for being on the political left, whose fault is that?  Who else have supported the schools, and who else is providing the material support (like books for their libraries, let alone food for their cafeteria)?  And, given the “support” given to rural people and the indigenous in this country by the government and a large part of society as a whole, what would one expect? 

When “education” is being re-defined as job training and not as a way of means of liberating one’s self, students feel they have a right to rebel.  And… in this political and social climate… to liberate one’s self, and to see one’s role in life as assisting others in their own liberation is a “radical” act, a defiance of the State and of the prevailing economic assumptions.
"Radical" Normalista Protesters
That these students are actually very conservative (simple “peasants” seeking to preserve their culture, but within the modern world) is lost when we see on the walls of the school those posters and murals of Che or Lenin or Emiliano Zapata.. but what other models are presented to them?  What neo-liberal — or social democratic — model would make room for their survival, or accept their way of life?  What has representative “democracy” given them?

As journalist and author of several books on Mexico, Richard Grabman stated;

“I’d be tempted to torch a statehouse myself if my representatives were not just doing nothing (I’m used to the U.S. Congress), but actively working against my survival, and appeared to actively participate in the destruction of my family, my culture and the future”.

Keep in mind the immediate cause of the massacre in Iguala was the students going there to raise money for a trip to Mexico City to join the national protests scheduled for  Oct 2 to commemorate the Tlatelolco Massacre.

There is a war in this country against the indigenous, and the campesinos.  Whether the fight is over water, or electrical power, or minerals, or narcotics, it has less to do with access to the product than with who stands in the way of “progress”, and what they are able to say or think about those who have access.  Those that teach, those that speak up, those that refuse to acquiese in their own destruction, are the ones being “disappeared” or murdered.
Disappeared in Iguala
 Everyone knows that Iguala was not the first student massacre by the government.  The  roots of the student  movement in Mexico do not go back to the world-wide movements of the late 60s, but to a seemingly unimportant …. and little noted… incident a decade earlier, when students took to the streets to demand the government lift a ban on showing “Jailhouse Rock” in movie theaters.   In 1958, nothing happened (other than the Federal District arranged for more matinee showing of Elvis, with half-price tickets for those with a student ID card) until in 1968.

Much has changed since the "Elvis" protests in 1958.  What made the Elvis protests seemingly unimportant in 1958 was that the number of students at the time was relatively small, and students were still overwhelmingly from priviliged backgrounds, not particularly representative of the people as a whole.

By 1968, with economic growth leading to a larger pool of families that could afford to allow their children to engage in economically unproductive work like seeking a higher education, and with even rural campesinos having benefited from rural electrification (and television), there were not only more students in 1968, but more and more   campesinos and workers included in their family circle an educated “person of respect”. 




Though the shameful actions of the government (which they tried to cover up) are what most people remember about Oct. 2, 1968,  some good came from the events of that day.  Legs were put under the "student movement".  Some of their demands were met.

Universities and Normal Schools were given more autonomy; meaning that students, teachers and administrators were given the power to run the schools without direct state interference.  This meant that the students and faculty were given greater voice in what they studied and more control over their future.  The military and police were removed from the campuses and there was greater freedom of speech and assembly.  

Fast forward to 2014. 

Over the next 40 years many of those rights gained at such a high price in 1968 were eroded.  The education reforms of 2013 and 2014 in which teachers, administrators, students, much less the indigenous population had no voice in formulating.

While the schools are in desperate need of better funding, and the teachers in need of better training and resources,  the government has shown a  tolerance for mismanagement and outright theft by the union bosses imposed on the teachers by themselves. 

Coupled with that is the imposition of curriculum changes meant not to create educated people, but workers.   Removing humanities from the curriculum in favor of shortened classes meant to impart just the technical training needed for careers is one of the students’ largest complaints. 

That, and as the nation’s main source for teacher training and school administration, a recognition that merely training a student to present facts in a classroom (and to adequately pass standarized tests) is not education, and is meant to thwart the expectations of a better life for the next generation.

In Guerrero, at what even by long-time Mexico hands like the Guardian’s Jo Tuckman as “a famously radical teacher training college”, it isn’t so much the “radicalism” that has sent the students off campus and into the streets, as another of the 1968 factors.  The Guerrero students are nearly all indigenous… from families in which a village maestro is as close to “person of respect” that the forgotten campesinos of this country can strive to become.

If they are “radical” it is in the sense that indigenous people are always “radical” in fighting to preserve their traditions.  These students reject a requirement to teach English, for example, less because of any (quite legitimate) sense that the requirement is for the benefit of foreign employers and foreign control of future workers, but because they recognize that their students are already at a disadvantge, often not speaking Spanish.  And that they can’t get texts in their own languages.  And, as the future “men and women of respect” in their traditional cultures, they are expected to lead the struggle for their various people’s autonomy

In October 1968, the state's presumed intention in using massive force against the students  was to end  the student movement.   It didn't work. 

The movement may have slept for a while licking it's wounds, but the "YoSoy132" movement showed it was still alive. 

The governments actions (and inaction) in Iguala may have ignited a fuse that set off a salvo that was heard around the world.  Lets hope it is not forgotten and it forces some "radical" change.


  1. There's only thing you can believe in these times and it is that the lord above wanted these angels with him. How can one live day by day watching this happen without having that faith? If the generations would not have let that faith fall away, maybe this world would be different. Soon - some of us will be watching this scum fall while we (for sure chivis and dr. mireles) :) ascend.

    1. Respectfully, if you believe that God wanted these students with him, then the circumstances giving rise to these social movements- corruption, discrimination - will continue to exist unchanged. It action of those who wish to change the status quo that makes those wishing to maintain the status quo to commit these atrocities in an effort to greedily hold on to the power and property accumulated thus far. The government money allocated to education to the Indians (what little it is) that is skimmed away by the corrupt is viewed as a personal possession not to be shared. Besides, those ignorant peasants, in their eyes, don't need education. They need to be slaves.

    2. Normalistas need to revolutionize in their communities makes things better for them selfs cause of what it seems in mexico nobody else is gonna do it for them.

  2. I counted 70+ students on the photos, not 57.

  3. Who cares if they were communists?!? For 20 years the Mexican government, kidnapped and murdered anyone who spoke of even a democracy. Read about the dirty war Mexico waged over leftists. It continues today, and the media says it is about drugs!?! No this is a political killing in which the politicians used narco hitman to kill a political movement

    1. Canadians and American NEED to fight the corrupt Mexican gov't and their thugs. I would have to say, "obliterate" those that work as these kinds of gov't officials.

  4. I hope that all the soldiers that committed that terrible crime are all dead and in hell or in an insane asylum.
    Who was the criminal president at that time?

  5. @11:39, that is an absolutely asinine comment. You are truly sick if you believe some mythical moon god wanted these kids with them for some unexplained reason. Get your head out of the sand and welcome to reality. ANY god or mythical spirit that would want 40+MORE innocent deaths on top of the already tens of thousands of innocent deaths in Mexico alone is completely illogical and if you believe your excuse, you're beyond any and all rational thought. The realistic excuse for this horrible tragedy in addition to what's been going on for the past 5+years in Mexico is the complete breakdown of society as a result of greedy and corrupt politicians and abject poverty. The systematic expansion of corruption throughout government, law enforcement, courts, and the apparent goal of keeping the poor......poor and uneducated. Knowledge and education IS the threat to the people that perpetuate corruption. Continue to use your invisible sky spirit as an explanation to the realities, but just as millions have done for the past 2000years, humanity is no better off today than it was pre-Christianity. Your all encompassing, wonderful, loving, and caring god certainly is a sick diabolical being.

  6. How short sighted does a goverment have to be to systematically slaughter innocent students who seek only to enrich and instruct the children who come after them, as well as their own professors and suporters, literally through the decades? Every bit of information that as been reported on this story makes me cry. God bless the normalistas and their loved ones.

    1. 5:17, I'm with you 100%

    2. Zeta tu no tienes moral perro no te hagas el wey..

  7. There's only thing you can believe in these times and it is that the lord above wanted these angels with him.

    So if it's the lord's will, then what is the fucking problem?

    1. God does not do bad things,especially killing innocents.your bible knowledge is bad.
      You slander god with bafd intentions. And actions.we all know who is responsible for this,and its not Jehova.

  8. Thanks dd for this bare bones report, I hope you don't become a turncoat like the first to jump the gun statin that the students were some kind of radicals from a "guerrilas"school,"si vos pacem" aka tijuano el inocente...
    After oct 68, under diaz ordaz president, and luis echeverria, sec of government, there was the jueves de corpus halconazo, under luis echeverria as president...

  9. Normalistas = Poor people who want to change their status by doing good.

    Cartels = Radicals and extremists who want to change their status by doing VERY bad things to other people, rich and poor.

  10. Tlatelolco again. same gowernment today

  11. Its time for mexico to advance into the 21century these students must get education in computers, english, world economics, world trade, and technology , here in the usa all high schools have spanish class and nobody make a big deal about it I see more and more americans learning spanish to gain access to more money jobs, these normalistas are communist and don't trust them don't get me wrong I love all mexican tradition from ranchos, gayo fights, zapata, villa, and mexican history but mexicanos need training in world trade so we can beat china

  12. Great article, Felicidades.

  13. Anyone who thinks of the normalistas as anything other than brave young people protecting their culture and stepping in where Mexican society has failed them ,,,,,does not understand the situation.

    Some of you ask why are they being attacked. In its most simplistic form, it is about money, greed, and racism.

    Normalistas have been kidnapped, torutred, and killed in not only Gro multiple times but neighboring states such as Mich, Jalisco.
    Indigenous people own valuable land, in Gro those lands are mined for gold, silver and other metals. Yet Gro indigenous get little or nothing and have not authorized much of the mining, a power and control they are supposedly constitutionally guaranteed.

    My friend vato sums it up this way:

    These schools are training the future leaders of the indigenous and ejidatario communities, whose resources and lands have long been coveted by Mexico's wealthy political elite.

    With EPN, their fondest dreams have come true, and these lands and their resources have been made available for looting. So, why not eliminate these future leaders now?

  14. Does it really matter who they are? the fact that they are striving for a better future n education is what matters. Does Peña Nieto reside in his own country? or is he in a different country comfortable while the devil is loose in Mexico? if he resides in Mexico RALLY up n march towards the Mexican White n NUKE it!!!

  15. Thanks for this good overview.

    Left out is that these rural Normal schools were created after the Mexican Revolution and, perhaps more importantly, the Cristero War.

    They were specifically created to lessen or destroy the remaining power of the Catholic Church in rural areas, post-Revolution. The Cristero War was mostly peasants from rural areas rebelling against anti-Catholic policies put forward by the first post-Revolution PRI administrations (Calles).

    The irony is that PRI filled these first rural Normal schools with leftists propaganda directed against the Catholic Church. But, as PRI and modern Mexico began to move toward neo-liberalism, these radical schools have become like a Frankenstein monster PRI created, that they now can't control.

    I agree modern Normalistas are actually conservative, in the sense of wanting to preserve their culture and traditions. Emiliano Zapata was also a conservative, counter-revolutionary, wanting to bring back the community land and other traditional culture that Diaz, a hundred years ago, was wiping out. Like during the Porfiriato, modern PRI wants to "move forward" into the world economy. These normalistas, and other community leaders, stand in the way.

    I think Zapata is a good model. Remember, he was a Guadalupano - he marched behind a banner of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

  16. The Mexican Narco State needs to get its head out of its ass, this isn't the 60's cold war era anymore to just throw a word like "communists" to a group of people and expect the whole world to turn their back on them, it may work with some elitist sons of bitches of the Mexican right, but basically the whole world just won't swallow it anymore, the more you try to portray these students as the bad guys the more people will see you Mexican state and your cronnies as the mafioso narcoterrorists that you are.

  17. So when does the Revolution start? What fucked up country. When will the people say enough is enough and stand up and fight?

  18. Pete at 11:10 AM
    "Zapata was a counter-revolutionary conservative"

    With that quote you just threw away your entire argument, what dumb piece of shit you are really, how there's always idiots who try to twist history and reality.

    1. No, you ignorant beast. He's totally right. He actually knows history unlike you.

  19. "How can one live day by day watching this happen without having that faith? If the generations would not have let that faith fall away, maybe this world would be different"

    Faith in what? God? Are you kidding me? God doesn't exist. If it does, it created this mess.

    To make sense of God, we are God. As one we are God. No religion is going to fix our problems. We have. WE. GOD.

    I'm sick of hearing "karma's a bitch" this and "Have faith" that! Karma and religion are sick jokes! We're the only ones that can fix anything. We pave the way for our own destinies.

    Bad people are people obsessed with the system. With making money, getting rich at other peoples' expense. Organized criminals and capitalists are one in the same! They want to sit on a beach while the rest of humanity makes their money! If you don't understand this then continue being dumb, following a religion that has massacred, raped and driven indigenous people for thousands of years!

    The only curse in the world is the European capitalist. No offense Europeans, but your ancestors outright destroyed rich cultures for their own chance at riches. They brought sickness and currency. And currency introduced slavery.

    We can have currency and still live happy lives. Where the problem lies is that internation banks have granted themselves with the divine right of certifying every country's currency. Every country is in a downward spiral of debt because of internation banks.

    All these evil people have the same mindstate as these evil bankers. They all want to be chief, boss everyone around for their riches. This is why no one gives a damn about anything against the system. They want that cnance to be rich. To be better than everyone else.

    Capitalism is evil. Once the banks are stripped of their divine power, we will function and conduct healthy. There will be no more crime. There will be no more need to be rich. Because we're all already rich. It's just that the greedy corporations (capitalists), charge us money to do things "legitimately".

    We have forests. We can build a house. We can hunt and fish! But it's capitalism that doesn't want us to do that. They see us as resources to exploit.

    Sharpen up! We are God. United, we are God. Stop being stupid.

  20. EPN and PRI want to eliminate all escuelas normales in the country. The scum are trying to link the normalistas from Ayotzinapa to the narcos Los Rojos.

  21. i am translating the osario chong article, also Vato is working on a related post.

  22. Capitalism per se, is not bad, when it becomes crony capitalism and consists of scratching your peer's backs and buying government postions to influence your income, when obtaining government fat cat contracts to sustain corporate welfare, trough corrupt political campaigns full of dirty money is all tha matters, etc etc etc, capitalism has lost its fundillo...i mean its ass...

  23. This conduct is coming to the USA. The Ohio National Guard killed 4 college students and the Kent State Massacre in 1970. Many cops and soldiers are licking their chops to get some real shooting in. You can see their 'want to kill' in Boston and St. Louis.

  24. thats mexican democracy, pri or pan they the same

  25. 10:02 US has what propaganda passes for democracy, it is in reality kool-aid, in blue, in red, now in pink and green, any rainbow color to please all persuassions, bush vs gore and bush/kerry proves US democracy is a lie!!!
    --Bill and melinda gates foundation, rhodes scholar bill clinton's global initiative, the ONU, investors like the mitt romneys and jeb bush, propose with their benevolent charities and charitative initiatives to educate the poor for employment, that will never arrive, while they keep stealing, mining and robbing the poor countries a little while longer, while in reality all they do is fight real teachers, and teachers colleges, to privatize the government function, using the people's own governments...
    ---Those foundations and others have spent billions and billions of dollars and pesos on educating latino americans for many years, and they do not even have toilets to show for the expenses !?!????
    --Maybe they have just been offshoring the money away from the rapacious hands of the US government they despise so much, and have no good deeds to show for it other than awards, medals and diplomas from their accomplices.
    --Enrique pena nieto does not know anyhing about teaching, not even about robbing from the government, it gets all done for him by others


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