GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Family members of 43 college students who were kidnapped last September in Iguala, Mexico came to Grand Rapids on Tuesday to spread awareness.
The project is called Caravana 43. It’s a speaking tour traveling the United States to help pressure the Mexican government to give families of the missing students answers. There are three caravans covering over 40 cities, including Detroit and Lansing.
In Grand Rapids, the tour started at the Cook Arts Center on Grandville Avenue SW. Cruz Bautista Salvador, an uncle to one of the 43 missing students, and Maria, the mother of one of the missing, spoke to a group in an open forum.
The two said they haven’t seen their loved ones since Sept. 26, 2014, when a group of students from Rural Teachers’ College of Ayotzinapa disappeared after a clash with local police.
Maria told 24 Hour News 8 that the students were on buses for a trip when they were gunned down by local police forces.
“Our children were facing persecution and dispersed to different areas,” Maria said.
Bautista Salvador and Maria shared their stories in the hope of spreading awareness about corruption and violence in their country.
“The main message is for the people who do not realize what is happening in Mexico and we want to ask the Mexican government to come forward with the students that have disappeared,” said Bautista Salvador.
The caravan held events all day in the area and concluded with an evening speaking event at Grand Valley State University’s Allendale campus.
Organizers said the parents plan to take their case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Amnesty International and the United Nations. There will be a large caravan traveling to New York on April 26 to continue the effort.