Thursday, 13 November 2014

What matters?

Kim Kardashian is trending right now on Twitter. The story of the guy who fraudulently posed as a decorated war hero at the National War Memorial on Remembrance Day was the lead story on CBC radio this morning.

Also in today's news, buried deep, news of the torching of the state assembly in Guerrero State in Mexico over the disappearance of 43 student teachers on September 26, well over a month ago. On Monday, authorities announced that they suspect these students from Ayotzinapa Normal School, a long serving rural college dedicated to the emancipation of the poor, were murdered

43 student teachers on their way to protest a lack of funding for their school. 

43 student teachers who were allegedly abducted and killed.

43 student teachers whose remains were reportedly burned at a garbage dump and thrown into a river. 

Protesters carry images of the missing students, yet their own faces are masked
for fear that they themselves may disappear. Image from El Nuevo Herald.
The disappearance of the 43 would-be educators has ignited Mexico over the issue of the "desaparecidos"- the disappeared ones. While the Mexican government itself has reported that more than 22,000 people have vanished in Mexico since the drug wars began in 2006, the story goes largely unreported in the North American press. Tens of thousands took to the streets in Mexico City this last weekend in protest. Airports have been shut down. Roads blockaded. Leading the charge are Mexico's teachers and university students.

I could not find the Mexican story on CBC or CTV. But it made headlines on Al Jazeera. Why does this story matter to a news channel based in the Middle East, but not to Canada with its geographic proximity to Mexico, NAFTA, and the thousands of Canadian vacationers who visit the country every year?  Why doesn't the disappearance and probable death of 43 student teachers matter to us?

And yet we have our own "disappeared ones"- the over 1000 documented cases of murdered and missing aboriginal women. Our prime minister refuses to call for a national inquiry despite pleas from Canada's premiers, aboriginal leaders and the general public.

What matters?  Who matters? And who decides what stories Canadians should hear?

Note: Since I first published this post, the disappearance of the 43 student teachers has become a catalyst for nation-wide protests in Mexico about the failure of both the left, the right, and the centre to represent the interests of the citizens of Mexico.  Yet both the Canadian and the American press continue to ignore what is happening.  See this Chicago Tribune article from November 20.