Interactive Map Places of memory related
to serious human rights violations

March against the Enforced Disappearance of 43 male students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College

Theme: Political persecution


(Es) Plaza de la Constitución




Mexico City



Theme: Political persecution

Purpose of Memory

Commemorate the Enforced Disappearance of 43 male students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers' College in 2014.

Known Designation

March against the Enforced Disappearance of 43 male students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers' College

Date of creation / identification / declaration


Public Access


Location description

Every September 26, a demonstration is held in Mexico City to demand the clarification of the case involving 43 disappeared male students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College, located in the Municipality of Tixtla, State of Guerrero.

This march, led by the parents of the disappeared students, starts in El Ángel de la Independencia and ends in Plaza de la Constitución, also known as El Zócalo. Thousands of people take part, together with the members of the families of the disappeared students, and social and political organizations, who join to protest to the cry of “Alive they were taken! Alive we want them back!” They carry placards and artworks with them, where the victim’s photos and the number 43 predominate.

On October 2 every year, Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College students used to take part in the movements in Mexico City towards the Tlatelolco Stele to commemorate the victims of the massacre of students occurred in 1968. For their trip to the Capital city, the students “seized” buses (meaning that they controlled the bus up to its destination, and then they released the driver) to reduce travel expenses. The seizure of buses each year spurred confrontations with local police forces, such as the Ayotzinapa Conflict. On December 12, 2011, a group of students blocked the Autopista del Sol and then moved to Chilpancingo de los Bravo to demand compliance with a statement of petitions. On their arrival, they were repressed by the police, and two of them finally died. This triggered a series of protests to condemn such events and claiming for justice. The conflict caused the impeachment of the State governor and the resignation by the Attorney-General.

During the night and early morning of September 26 to 27, 2014, getting closer to the commemoration of October 2, a group of students arrived in five buses at the Mexico City bus station, coming from the city of Iguala, and they were chased and attacked by municipal and state police officers.

This event caused a political earthquake in Mexico, due to its international repercussions, and generated statements of concern by the States and international organizations. Facing the claim of the victims’ relatives for a thorough investigation to clear up the facts, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights sent the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI, by its Spanish acronym). In their report, the GIEI remarked that 180 persons in total were victims of different human rights violations in the presence of several State security forces, where 43 male students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College were detained and disappeared, 6 persons were extrajudicially executed, and more than 80 professors, students and family members who claimed for justice suffered threats or attacks against their lives. The Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF, by its Spanish acronym) collaborated with this investigation.

Following the recommendations by the international organizations on human rights, on November, 2017 the Mexican State adopted the General Law on Enforced Disappearance of People and the National People Search System. This law gained international recognition as an advanced legislation in terms of human rights protection. 

During the period 2006-2014, different international and civil society organizations denounced that enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention were common practices in Mexico. While the National People Search Commission (CNB, by its Spanish acronym) estimates that almost 40,000 enforced disappearances have occurred, family members’ organizations denounce that state data are decentralized and inaccurate. That’s the reason why demonstrations all around the country denouncing these serious violations of human rights have multiplied in recent years.

On October 9, 2014, thousands of people were part of the first big march in support of the members of the families of the 43 students disappeared after the events that took place on September 26 and 27, under the cry of “Alive they were taken! Alive we want them back!”. On the following day, the first Inter-University Assembly of Students was organized, which inspired the movement known as “A Light for Ayotzinapa” on October 22, gathering almost 50,000 people. In order to commemorate each anniversary, and to keep on claiming for justice, the marches start in El Ángel de la Independencia and end in Plaza de la Constitución, also known as El Zócalo.

Concurrently with this movement, the Global Action Day for Ayotzinapa was organized, with the participation of academics from at least 60 countries, who demand the safe and sound students’ reappearance. A petition signed by 500 academics was sent to the Mexican authorities, criticizing the arbitrariness and lack of investigation. These demonstrations took place every year on the anniversary of the students’ disappearance, not only in Mexico but also in several cities all around the world.

At the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College, to which the disappeared students attended, a monument depicting a turtle was built –this animal became a symbol of the fight against the students’ disappearance– together with the number 43. Allegorical murals were painted on the walls, also making reference to two students murdered during the Ayotzinapa Conflict in 2011. In Iguala, the city where the students disappeared, on the previous day or following the movements in Mexico, the disappeared students’ relatives and members of the College lead a march claiming for justice.