Antonio Tizapa and Amado Tlatempa will run the New York City Marathon demanding the return of their relatives and the rest of the 43 students forcibly disappeared in Mexico last yearReasons abound to run the New York City Marathon. Some do it to fight breast cancer, others to remember a loved one, and yet some more to fulfill a promise.
But with each kilometer Antonio Tizapa and Amado Tlatempa run on Sunday’s race they will be sending a reminder to the world that the parents and relatives of the 43 Ayotzinapa students haven’t stopped their fight for justice.
“This is some sort of silent protest for our children. It has been over a year and we still demand answers, not the lies they have been trying to give us,” Tizapa said. “We also want to show to the families in Mexico that even though we’re here in the United States, away from home, we join the fight and use this sport, and the stage of the marathon, to call attention to what is happening in Mexico.”
Tizapa’s son, Jorge Antonio Tizapa Legideño, is one of the students that have been missing since September 26 of last year, when the bus he and his fellow students from the rural teacher training college was ambushed and shot at by Iguala city police.
So far, only two remains have been identified and the only certainty the families have is that the Mexican government has been burying the truth about the forceful disappearance of their children.
“It’s a heavy load, but now we’re using it as inspiration to run. I never imagined that running would be a way for me to call for justice,” Tlatempa said. “Two of my cousins disappeared that night and on the day of the marathon they will be pushing me to finish the race.”
Tlatempa’s cousin, José Eduardo Bartolo Tlatempa, was also on that bus that night.
Both men have been living in New York for over a decade after leaving their families in Tixtla, Guerrero. Tizapa is a plumber in Brooklyn and Tlatempa works in midtown restaurant. Although they have been running for about five years now, this will be their first New York City Marathon.
Tizapa and Tlatempa have been running in as many New York Road Runners races as they can, especially this year. And everywhere they run, they wear shirts with the word Ayotzinapa across the chest and a number 43 below.
This has gained them followers who will join them in the race this Sunday.
“It’s a tragedy. As a dad, I don’t want to imagine what it feels to have your son disappeared and never hear from him again. I understand why he wants to know what happened to his son and where he is. Tizapa is a very strong man and, as a Mexican, I’m glad I can join him… show solidarity with him and the families,” Sebastián Grande, 29, said.
Grande, a father of three, is one of the athletes that in the last months approached Tizapa after seeing him wearing Ayotzinapa shirts during races.
“I believe that with this the pressure continues on the Mexican government,” he said. “That’s also why I’m doing this.”
Tizapa and Tlatempa said that they expect about a dozen runners joining them during the marathon, as well as some other volunteers who will hold the portrait of every one of the 43 disappeared students at each kilometer marker.
“We’re calling it 42 for 43. You run 42 kilometers in the marathon, and we’ll run them for our 43 children,” Tizapa said. “The good thing, if there can be anything good, is that seeing all these people supporting us makes me feel stronger. On Sunday we’ll be saying that wherever there’s a Mexican standing there’s a fight against the bad government.”