by Valentina Ortiz

Story Summary

Mexico is at war. This war is not about drugs but about mining and fracking. “The disappeared” is a new expression; it refers to those who just vanished from the streets. The 27,000 men and women who “disappeared” in 2017, will they reappear one day?

Discussion Questions

  1. Why do you think Mexican migration to the United States has increased in the past years?
  2. The Mexican government has sold 2/3 of the country’s lands to the mining companies of England, France, Canada, China and the United States but these lands are those that the peasants of Mexico use to grow their food or they are part of National Parks, forests and jungles. What do you think is the result of a mining company coming into a small rural area in Mexico?
  3. Some say the long-term effects of fracking are devastating for the land. Do you know what these are? Do you think it is a good idea for this to go on in the world? Why or why not?
  4. Shell oil is what is extracted during the fracking process. Do you think it is a good idea to keep using fossil fuels to tend to our needs, regardless of global warming?
  5. Mining and fracking companies use millions of gallons of clean water; after they use it the liquid is permanently polluted. What do you think happens when a community loses the river that provides the water it uses?
  6. Why do we hear so little about the “disappeared” in Mexico? Do you think there is anything you can do to help stop injustice in other countries?



  • Latino Americans/Latios
  • Taking a Stand and Peacemaking
  • War

Full Transcript
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Hello, I am Valentina Ortiz. I am from Mexico. I’m a storyteller and musician from Mexico and we tell stories all over the place and sometimes in demonstrations, sometimes in gatherings. And the story says like this…

My teachers told me to change rooms to move up to the next door, but I, I decided to stay in this room because there used to be eight of us in this room. We were a rowdy crowd and uhh. But my friends are not here anymore because three years ago on the 26th of September we were in a bus, downtown Iguala and the police stopped us and forced us to get off the bus and we ran; we’re afraid of the police in Mexico. And we ran, and I was lucky enough to get on to, ya’ know a public transportation bus.

But from there I saw how they put handcuffs on my friends and they took them away, and since then we don’t know anything. But I keep their things. I made their beds… just in case they come back. You never know. We’ve disappeared people you see… We never lose hope. We’re always waiting because you don’t know where they are. There you can see the toothbrushes. I have them all nice and clean in the cup. …There’s the ball, the ball of Tonio, because he really liked football. He would have been a football player, but we’re poor so we’re all studying, well… we were studying for… to be teachers.

Over there you can see two guitars. One because Alejandro, ooch, he had so many songs! I regret I didn’t write them all up. And, umm Pepe, Pepe wasn’t so serious about his music because he also liked to read, and he went to the school, the political school in the evenings and he did all these speeches…

Yeah, because things in Mexico are difficult. We’re at war. Nobody seems to know it and not even say it. But we’re at war. The last eight years there’s been more than 250,000 people killed by violence. It’s not about drugs the way they say on the news. No, it’s really about land because our government in the last ten years has sold our land, 60 percent of our land, to mining companies, mining companies from around the world; from Canada, England, France, the United States… And so really, we’re at war about land, about rivers, about defending our forests.

And yes, it’s strange, I’m all by myself here in the room. I’ve changed, yes, I’ve changed because you see when they disappear somebody you know, somebody you love then things are never the same.

In Mexico there’s been 32,277 persons that have just vanished because the government, ya’ know the military, the police or just a dark car came and picked them up. We don’t know anything about them. That’s a lot of people and that’s a lot of families worrying about these people and those families collapse and oh, you should see the mothers and fathers of my friends. They’ve promised that every morning they’re gonna say good morning to their children and every evening they say good night.

And we’ve walked the streets, oh yes, we’ve been to Mexico City many, many times to demonstrations, big demonstrations. We’ve been to Europe. We’ve been to the United States trying to get the Mexican government to, to let us look for our…our fellow students, my friends. Um, ‘cause you see they don’t let us go into the military base that’s right next to where they picked them up from. They don’t let us. They might be there. We’re not gonna lose hope, but we have to keep our spirits up so, so we can keep looking and not despair. And so artists accompany us when we go on these demonstrations we have, we we sleep in the streets you know to – in front of one of the public buildings to demand justice and they’ll be with us.

And the other day a, a storyteller from Guatemala said a nice story. I usually don’t remember things, but this is short, so I remembered it. Um, it’s nice. I’ll tell it.

It’s says like this… a magician, a big magician arrived from Europe and in his first show he disappeared five rabbits at the same time. Then he started to travel around Mexico and there in a small town, he disappeared a whole cow – wham! And after over a month of traveling through our country, he announced he was going to do a wonderful final show and that we should all go there; it was gonna be free. And we got there, and he did a most amazing thing – wham, he disappeared poverty! I mean 54 million people in Mexico usually don’t have anything to eat. And here they had food. And then – wham, he disappeared a lack of education. Our schools had roofs. We had electricity in our schools. There was even money to pay for the teachers.

The government, you know they heard about what he was doing it was on the news and all, so they arrived to his, to his umm… hotel and the magician went to government representative as he thought, ya know, he would say thank you or something. But no, the government – wham… disappeared the magician.

I like that story. There’s a poem I like too, um, it was written by the mother of one of the many women who has vanished – disappeared. Over a thousand women have disappeared now in Mexico. There’s like this, they sell them for… you know for sexual things. It’s bad. It’s really bad they’re very young. Usually only 14. It’s really bad.

And the mother wrote this poem…

Mother, thou art in heaven, in the streets, in jails and brothels;
Mother listen to my prayer please, do not let our deaths go unpunished.
They tear our nipples off with their teeth.

They throw our bodies in the sands of the desert.
They change our clothes from one corpse to another to confuse our parents.
They put our bones in unnamed pits. 

Mother listen to my words, we know who they are.
They do not act by themselves.
They have accomplices.
We know who they are Mother.

Mother listen to my prayer,
Please do not cover with your cloak, those who kill us, those who rape us, those who disappear us Mother.
And may our blood and the blood of our brothers feed the earth so those who are alive have the strength.
Let them not fall in the hands of temptation of fear, the temptation of silence, the temptation of indifference.
Let us all be angry, so angry mother and let them say no to despair.