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McALLEN, RGV – McAllen musician Andres Sanchez says out of the tragedy of the forced disappearance of 43 students in Guerrero, Mexico, something positive is happening for the grieving family members.

Sanchez participated in a march of solidarity organized by the Rio Grande Valley chapter of Caravana 43 on Tuesday. It started in Archer Park, McAllen, and ended at the Mexican Consulate’s Office in the same city. Three families from Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, were represented and over 100 people participated.

“This is a very empowering event. I am really pleased the family members came to McAllen and chose our city as their first location for the caravan because this area does not very much attention for positive things,” Sanchez said, at the end of the march.

“This came out of a negative event, right, the disappearance of the 43 students, but the response from the community here has been overwhelming. There are over 100 people here on a work day. That is incredible.”

Sanchez said he is currently participating in Galax Z Fair, a music festival in McAllen. He said the organizer of the festival allowed some of the leaders of RGV Caravana 43 speak at the festival. “They floored the room. Everybody was involved. Some of the bands even spoke out about it during their sets. The impact of this is making waves through different circles. It is a very universal message,” Sanchez said.

In addition to bringing awareness to violence in Mexico, those participating in the caravan want the United States government to “stop the aid in the form of arms, ammunition and military hardware to Mexico” because, they say, “most of this aid is in large part responsible for the thousands of deaths and massive human rights violations in its neighboring country.”

Asked for his thoughts on this, Sanchez said: “To open a dialogue about that, sure, but I think for the purpose of this event, the focus is more on the isolated issue of the disappearance.”

Sanchez was asked to pick up Anayeli Guerrero, one of the family members from Ayotzinapa, after she visited relatives in the Valley and could not find her way back to the caravan. Sanchez said Guerrero lost a brother and two cousins when the disappearance happened.

“What impresses me most about this is that it is a DIY effort, a Do It Yourself thing. They (the family members) are doing this. They have no experience as organizers or activists. They are putting their hearts into this and it is turning into this beautiful thing.”

Caravana 43 has been coordinated by a national coalition with the intention of creating a platform for the families of the 43 forcefully disappeared Ayotzinapa students. In total, three caravans will visit at least 45 cities in the United States. The caravan crisscrossing through the Central part of the United States will be in San Antonio next week.

Organizers say family members will speak in cities across the country to audiences in churches, universities, community organizations, and labor unions about the movement to “find the disappeared, to punish the material and intellectual culprits and for justice for Ayotzinapa and all of the disappeared.” The families have continued to demand that their children be returned to them “alive as they were when they were taken.”