POLITICS

Hilda Legideno Vargas, Mother Of Missing Mexican Student, Presses Canada For Help

05/01/2015 02:48 EDT | Updated 05/01/2016 05:12 EDT
OTTAWA - The mother of one of 43 missing Mexican students who vanished last fall is in Canada to seek the federal government's help in pressuring Mexico for answers.

Hilda Legideno Vargas's 20 year-old-son disappeared in Mexico, likely at the hands of drug cartels, in a case that human rights groups say the Mexican government is covering up.

She wants the government to pressure the Mexicans to find answers in the case so she can get justice for her son, Jorge Antonio Tizapa.

Tizapa was among the 43 students who disappeared Sept. 26 from the Ayotzinapa Teachers' College in the city of Inguala.

The Mexican government says it wants to see the case resolved and justice done , but Legideno Vargas doesn't believe it, and wonders whether the local authorities were somehow complicit in the attack.

"Everything that I am doing here I'm doing out of love for my son," the 43-year-old single mother said Friday in an interview conducted through an interpreter.

"We've had to come here to Canada to have our voices heard because the Mexican government is not doing what it needs to do."

Legideno Vargas met with Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson's senior foreign policy adviser, Monika Le Roy, to press her case. She also testified in earlier in the week to the House of Commons human rights subcommittee.

Legideno Vargas said she wanted to "create awareness in the minister's office about the situation, and ideally that the Canadian government would make some kind of public statement pressuring Mexico to keep the case open."

A Nicholson spokeswoman said in an email that "Canada is deeply concerned with the violent events in Iguala that led to the disappearance of the 43 students and has conveyed this to Mexican officials."

An Amnesty International official who was in the meeting said they received a sympathetic hearing, but no concrete action has been taken.

Isidoro Vicario Aguilar, a lawyer for the families of the missing students, told MPs during committee testimony earlier in the week that Canada should remove Mexico from its list of designated safe countries.

"Ayotzinapa is but one example of widespread, extremely serious human rights violations in the state of Guerrero and many other regions of Mexico, including torture, extrajudicial executions and disappearances."

Legideno Vargas has campaigned tirelessly, with the aid of international human rights groups, to get answers about Tizapa and his classmates.

Tizapa, her middle child, is also the father of a one-and-a-half year old daughter. He loved children and wanted to teach them, his mother said.

"His family has grown up in a lot of poverty and he wanted to get out of that poverty for his daughter, and help other indigenous children," Legideno Vargas said.

She said there is no proof to back reports that the students were killed or burned alive.

"As a mother, I can't give up on my child, especially since the government has given us no proof to indicate they are in fact dead, so I will keep looking until I find him, or we find some proof of the contrary."

Legideno Vargas also said she has no fear of reprisals from the drug gangs or the government that largely controls Guerrero.

"There are high levels of corruption and collusion where you have public officials who are also members of illegal cartels. The Mexican government — the federal government — knows this very well but covers it up," she said.

"I am no longer scared of the Mexican government because the force driving me to do this is much stronger than any fear that I have."

The Mexican embassy, which also met Friday with a member of Amnesty International, declined comment.

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