Alfonso Cuarón, Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro González Iñárritu have found critical acclaim in Hollywood over the years, but they haven’t forgotten about the plight many citizens in their native Mexico are facing.
The Museum of Modern Art in New York held a tribute to Cuarón’s work on Monday evening, according to The Hollywood Reporter, and the three directors took advantage of the platform to deliver a scathing and united criticism of recent events in their home country.
Cuarón, del Toro and Iñárritu penned an open letter denouncing how the Mexican government has handled the disappearance and suspected massacre of 43 students in southwestern Mexico. Del Toro read the official statement while Cuarón and his son Jonas stood beside him on stage, an absent Iñárritu co-signed the letter beforehand.
Jonas Cuarón, from left, Guillermo del Toro and Alfonso Cuarón speak at the The Museum of Modern Art Film Benefit 2014 on Monday, Nov. 10, 2014, in New York. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)
The complete statement read as follows:
This past September, 43 students were kidnapped by the local police in the state of Guerrero, Mexico. After a period of apathy, the authorities only then were forced to search for them, due to the protestations of citizens across the entire country and the world, and they found the first of many, many mass graves. None of these graves contained the remains of the missing students. The bodies within them were those of other anonymous victims. Last week, the general attorney announced that the 43 students were handed over by the police to members of a drug cartel to be executed and burned in a public dumpster. But even of the identity of those charred remains awaits proper DNA.
The federal government argues that these events are all just local violence — not so. As Human Rights Watch observes, these killings and forced disappearances reflect a much broader pattern of abuse and are largely a consequence of the longstanding failure of the Mexican authorities. ... We believe that these crimes are systemic and indicate a much greater evil: the blurred lines between organized crime and the high-ranking officials in the Mexican government. We must demand the answers about this and we must do it now.
The message was one of solidarity with the tens of thousands of protesters who took to the streets Sunday in Mexico City, events that led to the burning of the door to the National Palace.
As notables like Katie Holmes, Julian Schnabel, Salman Rushdie and more gathered to honor the “Gravity” director, Cuarón felt intent on pushing the spotlight to the Mexican government’s negligence in the face of corruption and mass murder.
“This amazing night is overshadowed by the events in Mexico," Cuarón told The Hollywood Reporter. "It's difficult to even talk about film when that is hanging over not only every Mexican, but any other person who is aware of what's going on: a lot of indignation."
Del Toro also spoke to the publication, adding, "We feel it's a very tragic moment for our country. When you have 43 people disappearing, you not only not trust the authorities to solve it but you realize many of the authorities were behind the act."
Other Mexican personalities, like legendary rock band Café Tacuba, have also used their platform to spotlight the situation.
Protests in Mexico demanding transparency in the investigation of the possible killings of the students have only heightened since last weekend. On Wednesday demonstrators set fire to a legislature building in the southwestern state of Guerrero.
After the “Pan Labyrinth” director finished reading the open letter, he asked the audience to join their voice against the atrocities occurring in their neighboring country.
“We would like to take this opportunity to ask you all to join us in the pain and indignation felt by the families of the disappeared students and of every civilian in Mexico who is living with this atrocious reality on an everyday basis,” del Toro said, according to Variety. “And to at least be aware of this systematic human rights violation taking place so often and so close to you,”