Cutberto Ortiz Ramos

Heriberta Vázquez saw her grandson Cutberto Ortiz Ramos leave their community forty years after the army disappeared her husband, Felipe Ramos Cabañas, her father-in-law and her three brothers-in-law. The family of Cutberto lives in San Juan de las Flores, a town located in the Sierra de Atoyac, and are relatives of Lucio Cabañas Barrientos, “The Tiger of Atoyac,” founder of the Partido de los Pobres (The Party of the Poor), who campaigned for justice and education for the poor. Cabañas’ relatives collectively suffered the wrath of the military and police forces that swept through the area in the counter-insurgency campaigns of the 1970s.

 

Cutberto is named for his uncle Cutberto Ortiz Cabañas, also of San Juan de las Flores, and one of the victims of enforced disappearance during the Mexican Dirty War in the state of Guerrero. To say that history repeats itself would be incorrect, as that would imply that there was once a change - that at some point the people of Guerrero and other indigenous communities throughout Mexico stopped suffering the repression and violence of the government. Within these communities, history does not repeat itself, history is perpetuated. 

Cutberto Ortiz Ramos is the eldest child of Oscar Ortiz Serafín and María Araceli Ramos Vázquez. He has five siblings: Yerlin Paloma, Ezael, Yatzel, Berenice and Oscar.

In elementary school he participated in poetry contests; in high school, he competed in oratory, and also began to participate in regional livestock competitions. In his second year, he won second place in the contest that took place in the community of Los Arenales municipality of Benito Juárez. In his third year, he won first place in the contest in the town of El Xúchitl in the municipality of Tecpan de Galeana, by skillfully describing the parts of a sheep.

 

Before going to study in Ayotzinapa, he worked in the field planting corn, beans and tomatoes in the plot that the family has in San Juan de la Flores, and cared for all the hens and roosters.

 

Cutberto is also a musician, and plays the trombone, clarinet, and saxophone. He plays the trombone in the Tonantzin wind band of San Juan de las Flores. Since his disappearance no one in the band has played the trombone, it waits until Cutberto returns.

Cutberto went to study at the Normal because he wants to be a teacher. As a child playing with his siblings, he pretended he was a teacher, and gave classes to his younger siblings. His parents would not allow him to apply to Ayotzinapa after high school, and after a year, It was Bernardo Flores Alcaraz, who convinced him to try again for his dream. Bernardo, also a relative of Lucio Cabañas Barrientos, who himself attended Ayotzinapa, is among the 43 disappeared students.

 

At Ayotzinapa, Cutberto was given the nickname “Komander” because he looks like the corridos singer who uses that stage name. They remember working with him in the planting fields, where they would say: "Hey, Komander, sing a song!" Cutberto settled down with a macho gesture but sang the music in the voice of the cartoon character SpongeBob and danced as a child. His serious countenance in the few pictures there are of him does not reveal his playful and amiable personality. Cutberto is fun and makes others laugh.

 

Heriberta recalls the last time she saw Cutberto: ”The last time he came, when he was leaving, he brought me his clothes. He brought me his pants, his athletic shirts, his shirts, so that I could sew them because they were all torn."

Cutberto left San Juan de las Flores on August 1, 2014. His father attended a parent meeting at the school on September 12th, which was the last time he has seen Cutberto. San Juan de las Flores waits for his return.

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We are grateful for the support and contributions of Almeida Photography, Blanka Amezkua, Gustavo Martinez, Malú Huacuja del Toro, Semillas, Somos Los Otros, Tryno Maldonado, all the runners and their families, and from so many more of you.