paso morelos toll plaza A sign at the Paso Morelos toll plaza reads, 'I don't fear repression by the state. I fear the silence of my people.'

Guerrero toll plazas taken over by protesters 80 times so far this year

The protests are related to the disappearance of 43 students in Guerrero in 2014

Teachers, student teachers and other protesters have taken over toll booths on the Cuernavaca-Acapulco highway 80 times so far this year, the government reports. 

The normalistas, as the student teachers are known, and their supporters have commandeered toll plazas in La Venta, Palo Blanco and Paso Morelos, Guerrero, in protest against the September 2014 disappearance of 43 of their fellow students from the state-run Ayotzinapa teacher training college in Iguala, Guerrero.

The modus operandi is to approach the toll booths and take control of the gates, raising them for motorists who pay them 50 pesos, which they say is a contribution to their activism and a donation to the parents of the 43 missing students. 

So far this year, police have not taken action to prevent the take-overs, remaining on the sidelines observing except for one instance in Palo Blanco on July 15 when police and the National Guard intervened.

Authorities say the hijacking of toll booths had somewhat diminished due to the coronavirus pandemic, but since the last week of July the students have begun ramping up their activities. 

Last Wednesday, protesters commandeered the Pasos Morelos toll plaza and a normalista was hit by a car after a driver chose not to stop. The injured student was taken to the hospital in Chilpancingo with injuries to the pelvis, clavicle and abdomen. 

On July 26, activists announced a series of demonstrations in support of the parents of the missing who continue to demand that the government bring their children home alive.

The renewed call to action comes after the Attorney General’s Office announced in early July that two grams of skeletal remains found in a canyon in Cocula are those of disappeared student Christian Alfonso Rodríguez Telumbre, as confirmed by Austrian and Argentinian scientists.

However, the student’s parents say that the piece of bone is not enough for them to believe it belongs to their child.

An investigation into the kidnappings was resumed under President López Obrador shortly after taking office in 2018. His government rejects the previous administration’s claim that corrupt police officers handed the students over to a criminal gang, the Guerreros Unidos, who killed them and burned their bodies.

Source: Reforma (sp)

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