Shoes worn by relatives of 43 students who disappeared in Mexico are among those on display in a new exhibition that opened in Shoreditch today.
Footprints of Memory: Searching for Mexico’s Disappeared is being held at Amnesty International UK’s building at New Inn Yard and features shoes belonging to family members who continue the long journey in the search for their loved ones.
Some of the exhibits relate to a notorious incident in September 2014 in which 43 students disappeared in Iguala, Guerrero, causing international outrage.
Many families believe their beloved are still alive and that the blame lies directly or indirectly with an allegedly corrupt government.
Maria de Jesus Tlatempa, mother of Jose Eduardo Bartolo Tlatempa, 18, and now activist for those who disappeared, blames the government for handling the students to Guerreros Unidos, a drug cartel that operates in the regions of Morelos and Guerrero.
She told EastLondonlines: “On the morning of the 27th, the police told us our sons had been arrested and that they would soon be released, but they haven’t been released to this day.
“Jesus Murillo Karam (Mexican politician affiliated with the Institutional Revolutionary Party) told us our sons had been murdered and burned in the Cocula dumpster with their mobile phones. We know this is not true because we kept calling them and the phones gave a signal. The Mexican government is lying. We ask every day why the government is violating our human rights.”
Footprints of Memory tells the story of some of the 30,942 people who have gone missing all over Mexico since 1969, and the desperate search by their family members to find them.
The exhibition will showcase the shoes worn by family members engraved with messages to represent their desperate search for their relatives.
Alfredo Lopez Casanova, artist and part of the The Footprints of Memory collective, told EastLondonlines: “The project started around 2013 to give visibility to the issue. We have the impression that the Mexican government has spent a lot of money trying to hide what is happening in Mexico; the project is a window to see what is happening in the country.
“The shoes showcased are those of people who searched, they are worn, they are tired. It shows that forced disappearances in Mexico have been systematic and continuous since 1969 until now.”
The epidemic of disappearances has not prompted any major investigations and certainly has not been resolved.
Amnesty International is working to unveil the truth about what happened to the students.
Tlatempa claims: “It’s a state crime. If we had money, our children would already be home.
“We are not going to stop until we find our loved ones. We’ve turned the pain into courage to keep demanding that they bring our sons back. We are stronger than ever and we are not going to go home without knowing the truth.”
The exhibition at Amnesty International UK, Shoreditch, runs from today until the end of this month (9am to 6pm).