“What would Monsiváis or Ibargüengoitia say about Ayotzinapa?” I tweeted in the days following the disappearance of the 43 students from Guerrero. Monsiváis, who died in 2010, and Ibargüengoitia, who died in 1983, were two giants in Mexico’s long and illustrious tradition of opinion journalism. Their work was incisive, sharp, clever, and often very, very funny, and I found myself aching for their words — which, of course, they could not give.
Instead, I began looking to contemporary commentary, and found that more than words, the posters and cartoons being designed in the wake of Ayotzinapa were filling a void that opinion journalism seemed to be overlooking. Mexico’s traditions of graphic design and cartooning are also rich and strong, and artists weren’t shying away from expressing outrage, criticizing the government, and urging their fellow citizens to pay attention and get involved.
“Historically, cartoonists have been forerunners and innovators of political and social criticism in Mexico,” wrote Citlali López Maldonado in Mexico Today, an encyclopedia about Mexico. Cartoonists express the “frustration and resentment” about the country’s authoritarian past and, some would say, its return to that type of rule under the PRI, and the same is true of modern graphic designers and poster artists in Mexico.
This cartoonist does a grim play on the word “normalista” (a name for the student group who was disappeared) and “Normal List.” (Image via Regeneración).
Playing on the #YaMeCansé hashtag that took off on Twitter after the Attorney General’s November 7 press conference, this cartoon, which reads, “I”m tired of living in a narcograve,” made the rounds on twitter. (Image via Twitter).
One of the more sinister cartoons, this one depicts Mexico’s Attorney General and references his November 7 comment “I’m tired” (“Ya me cansé”). Here, he asks, “So you thought I was tired?”, which refers to the detention of 11 protesters after the November 20 march in Mexico City. (Image via Regeneración).
This poster announces a March for Freedom, a call for citizens to return to the streets and protest the detention of 11 people during the November 20 protest. Like many of the posters that have been created following the disappearance of the 43 students, this one features images that are direct references to Mexican culture. (Image via Regeneración).
In an interview published on November 21, Uruguayan president José Mujica spoke out about Ayotzinapa and proclaimed Mexico a failed state. Mexico’s SRE (Secretary of Foreign Relations) was outraged. In this cartoon, he shouts into a void, “And let the whole world know Mexico is not a failed state!” (Image via Regeneración).
On November 29, the 11 people detained during the November 20 protests were freed from federal prisons where they were being held on charges of attempted murder. Here, the Attorney General is depicted as saying “We’re freeing the 11 because we’re going to need space for those we’re going to detain on the 1st of December” [when another mass protest was planned]. (Image via Regeneración).
Many of the posters have had an informative function, letting the public know details about the dates, times and locations of upcoming protests, including the one scheduled for December 1. (Image via Desinformémonos).
Another poster with information about the December 1 protest. (Image via Desinformémonos).