Santa Clara University Students Build Art Installation for 43 Students Missing, Presumed Dead in Mexico

Artists hope that the installation will bring new life into the investigation.

Students have created an art installation at a Bay Area university to symbolize the Mexican students who disappeared in Iguala, Mexico, in 2014.

The Santa Clara University art instillation includes 43 silhouettes, one to represent each student who went missing. Mexico's attorney general said last year that an investigation found that they had died, though only one students' DNA has been recovered.

The students, who attended the Raul Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers College in Ayotzinapa, were traveling to Iguala to organize a protest and were stopped by police. The official investigation into the students’ disappearance concluded that they were handed off to a drug cartel and murdered, and their bodies incinerated.

According to some reports, the police were operating under orders from a corrupt mayor, José Luis Abarca Velázquez and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda Villa. The students had planned to protest an event at which Pineda Villa was speaking. 

Abarca and Iguala's police chief were both detained in connection with the investigation, but the students' disappearance, and the federal government's seemingly slow response, has generated major protests in Mexico and abroad.

The Santa Clara University students who built the effigies hope their work will breathe new life into the investigation. 

"I think if we forget, it’s a lost cause," said Associate Dean Stephen Lee. "Best we can do is bring attention to such events."

The installation is slated to be on display through Jan. 15.

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