Mexico Still Mourns

I am sorry. I steal this as well, because the world needs to know.

Reforma: Guadalupe Loaeza*
Translated by Danielle M. Antonetti

As I do every year, last Sunday I took my grandchildren to see “The Nutcracker” at the National Theater. Once seated, I gave myself a task: to watch all the people filled with holiday cheer as they entered the theater to admire the last performance of Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet, the music of which is so familiar to us that even the most ignorant can recall a fragment. Most of the attendees were children and adolescents, bundled up and accompanied by their families. The atmosphere inside the enormous auditorium, with space for 10,000 people, was festive and Christmassy.

For my part, I was a deeply gratified grandmother surrounded by my six grandchildren, two of my sons, my daughter-in-law and Paloma Figueroa, the young professional dancer. With that same festive mindset, I watched young grandmothers wearing 100 percent wool coats with furs and carrying Coach or Marc Jacob purses. Many greeted and waved to each other from afar. The show was only minutes away from beginning.

Suddenly, the lights went down and at the stage’s illuminated center appeared a group of young people holding two banners, one with the hashtag #Yamecansé [Enough, I’m tired]** written on it and on the other could be read the words, “Stop impunity.” Daniel Castillo, in evening wear, spoke on behalf of his fellow members of the National Dance Company:

“Mexico is mourning the unsustainable and heartbreaking impunity that has become a daily story and that violates our citizenry.”

With perfect diction, his words echoed all across the auditorium.

A profound silence fell over us. No one moved in their seats, not the children and especially not the adults. The power of Castillo’s words and the audience’s silence united all of us. Castillo, whose image was projected in color on two enormous screens placed on either side of the stage, continued,

“Mexico, we are no longer just mourning the disappeared teacher college students, but those of Aguas Blancas, San Fernando and the children at the ABC nursery***,”

“I want to read a poem written by one of our company members, the ballerina Sonia Jiménez.”

At that moment, and despite my wearing a red sweater, I felt dressed in black from head to toe.

We are mourning,
We are the cry of our dead,
We are the blood shed on fertile land,
We are the silence on the verge of exploding.
Today we do not recognize the ground on which we stand,
The falling rain does not erase the mistakes,
Our eyes don’t wipe away the truth,
We live blindfolded, we have sold-out,
We speak with the breath of our bodies.
Turn off the lights. Mexico is mourning.

As if moved by an gigantic, invisible spring, the public rose to its feet,  “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine…,” until it reached number 43, which they memorialized with their fists raised.
The applause was an enormous and deep expression of our condolences. Everyone was mourning. Everyone felt even more tired than Murillo Karam for all the corruption and impunity. And all of us represented “the cry of our dead.”

I envisioned backstage: 170 dancers of the National Dance Company and the students of the National School of Classical and Contemporary Dance, elegantly dressed as the characters of the ballet’s epoch, applauding. I was imagining the company’s five principal dancers—Agustina Galizzi, Ana Elisa Mena, Mayuko Nihei, Blanca Ríos and Erick Rodríguez—mourning. Those who appeared particularly sad were José Luis González, Mariana Garce and Sofía Villarreal, who that night were saying goodbye to the company, which was celebrating 50 years of putting on the Christmas ballet. Also, I imagined “Clara,” the protagonist of Hoffmann’s tale, the little rodents, the tin soldiers, and the Nutcracker himself mourning, applauding in honor of the 43 disappeared.

“Why did you get so sad all of a sudden, Mamá Lú?, one of my granddaughters asked me.

“Because Mexico continues to mourn,” I replied.

I have the impression that my granddaughter did not understand me. Then, the curtains opened and the show began.
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*María Guadalupe Loaeza Tovar is a contemporary Mexican writer and author of many books, including Las Niñas Bien [The Good Girls], Las Reinas de Polanco [The Queens of Polanco (wealthy Mexico City neighborhood], Debo, Luego Sufro [I Owe, Therefore, I Suffer] and Compro, Luego Existo [I Shop, Therefore, I Exist], in which she writes ironically about the Mexican upper class. Twitter: @gloaeza
 
**Reference to offhand remark of Attorney General Murillo Karam at the end of the press conferece at which he announced that arrested members of the Warrriors United cartel confessed they had murdered the 43 Ayotzinapa students and burned their bodies. The remark was immediately turned against him on the social media and in the press.
 
***Aguas Blancas was the massacre by police of protesting farmers in Guerrero in 1995. San Fernando was the massacre, in 2010, of 72 Central American migrants by the Zetas cartel with the collusion of local police. The ABC nursery fire, in 2009, possibly the result of local officials’ attempt to destroy records in an adjoining store room, resulted in the deaths of 49 infants and young children and the injuring of 70 more.

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