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They won't give up, even if a former president tells them they should.Relatives and supporters of the 43 teachers college students who were disappeared in Mexico last September traveled to the United States this week to start a multi-city caravan in hopes of sustaining public indignation over the case.The Caravana43, as it is called, is composed of parents, classmates, and supporters of the missing Ayotzinapa Normal School students. Split into small groups, they plan to stop in more than 40 US cities before convening in Washington DC, and ending the caravan in New York in late April.
But their arrival in the US was met with a nasty welcoming message from ex Mexican President Vicente Fox, who told them to get over the "tragedy" they've lived and move on.A throng of supporters met the parents' arrival Tuesday at the Mexican consulate in McAllen, Texas. They called for the Mexican government to return the 43 young men "alive."Only one of the victims has been confirmed killed, in a case that has gripped the country and led to massive protests for almost six months.Felipe de la Cruz, a spokesman for the parents, told a US news outlet that they want "to tell the neighboring community that the problem in Ayotzinapa has not been solved, and that the case is still open." He departed separately for New York.Related: Human Rights Crisis Threatens to Overshadow Mexican President's UK Visit.
Fox, who led Mexico between 2000 and 2006, is known for making provocative off-the-cuff remarks before news cameras.Speaking to a San Antonio correspondent for US Spanish-language network Univision, Fox said on Tuesday that "it's about time" the parents give up their demands before Mexico's government, and that they should accept they will never see their missing loved ones again."It is good that they love their sons so much. It's good that they miss them, and cry so much for them, but now they need to accept reality," Fox told Univision. "They can't live forever with this problem in their heads."
He said so "as a father," Fox added. "The country has to keep advancing. And they do, too."Related: The Executioners: What the Government Hasn't Revealed About the Mexico Student Massacre.
The former president's advice for the parents came just eight days before the six-month anniversary of the police and cartel attacks on busloads of Ayotzinapa rural teachers college students, which left half a dozen people dead on September 26, and dozens more missing.Miriam Trujillo, the cousin of one of the missing students, Jonas Trujillo, called the former president's comments "repulsive.""He hasn't been in this situation," she said in an interview with VICE News on Wednesday. "What does he know?"Caravan organizers say they also hope to shed light on the connection between the violence in Mexico and the Merida Initiative, the US government plan to "disrupt" organized crime groups in Mexico by pumping billions of dollars into Mexican security agencies as part of the global war on drugs.Parents plan to meet with Amnesty International and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, said Vidulfo Rosales, a human-rights lawyer based in Guerrero who is also traveling with the group. The caravan is privately funded and supported by a coalition of dozens of US-based organizations."Mexico believes in forgetting," Omar Garcia, one of the survivors of the police attack, told EFE. "It could seem like there is no longer a problem, when the reality is that nothing has been resolved."Related: Mexico Says Missing Students Case Is Solved, Despite No New Evidence.Melissa del Pozo contributed to this report. Follow Andrea Noel on Twitter @MetabolizedJunk.