Is vast, wide, seemingly boundless.
It has been more than four months since 43 students from a rural teaching school in Ayotzinapa, in Mexico’s south-western state of Guerrero disappeared.
They were last seen alive during a protest in the town of Iguala.
Police fired on them and rounded them up, eventually handing them over to members of the Guerreros Unidos drug gang, who are widely thought to have killed them.
But the students’ families refuse to believe they are dead. They say they want more answers and will not give up looking for them.
We’re so sorry. Those kids didn’t have that coming to them; no one does. And yet it happened. It also happened to the Chibok girls in Nigeria, and to thousands of men, women, and children in Syria and Iraq. It’s also happened to countless anonymous victims across Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Europe—all in the last 25 years.
Victims of cruelty are counted in the tens of millions. We must acknowledge that, but not be numbed by it. Which is why we tell individual stories:
Last week Lourdes Caballero Sanchez took to the streets of the capital with thousands of other Mexicans to call for justice.
It was a personal journey for her. Lourdes’s 21-year-old brother Israel is one of the missing.
Her belief that she will find him is unwavering.
“I have an intuition that he’s still alive. That’s why we are here, asking [President] Pena Nieto to give us back our boys,” she told me.
“As a sister, I’m desperate. I miss him, I want to see him. I feel so powerless to not be able to do anything for him.”
But less than 24 hours later, Mexico’s Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam delivered a blow.
He declared that the students were dead.
His team, he said, had interviewed 99 people including members of the criminal gang that he alleges murdered the students.
Based on 386 declarations from interviewees, 16 police raids and two reconstructions, the conclusion was that the students were killed by the gang and their bodies burned at a rubbish dump.
The students’ families angrily rejected this scenario.
Of course they did. To accept it is to kill their loved ones all over again.
What is my point in writing about horrific cruelty, genocide on an unimaginable scale? It’s not like I think it can be “fixed”—short of overwhelming military intervention, meaning American, and how often can we expect that? No sappy paean to peace, no hunger strike, no tweeted selfie, no outraged blog post will bring back a Chibok girl or a Ayotzinapa boy. Once things have gotten as bad as they have in Mexico, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan (if they were ever any better in those hell-holes), evil will have its way. My thoughts and prayers are for those dwindling countries—America and Israel most notably—who are trying to keep the barbarians on the far side of the gate. They’re like cockroaches: once they’re they’re in—see Obama’s amnesty plans and Israel’s nasty neighbors to the north, south, and east—they’re hell to get rid of.
And Hell to live with.