Edgar Andrés Vargas
We are all vulnerable, we can suffer violations at any time by the State and even more so if you are a student and you raise your voice, because the State wants to silence you, it wants you submissive. For what; so that they can continue doing what they always know how to do, and that it is not to govern a country well.
- Edgar Andrés Vargas
Edgar Andrés Vargas is the second of four children of Marbella Vargas and Nicolás Andrés Juan. He grew up between San Francisco del Mar and Pueblo Nuevo, two locations on the hot Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca. Edgar’s father, who has been both a teacher and director of a primary school was reluctant for Edgar to attend the teachers’ college in Ayotzinapa because of the distance from home but Edgar had already laid out his life plans: to complete his education, to support his family, to provide a home for them, to have his own family, and for them all to live in stability.
At the time of the attacks, Edgar was a third-year student at the Escuela Normal Rural Raúl Isidro Burgos in Ayotzinapa. He was among a group of students who responded to distress calls from the first-year students who were ambushed in three buses at the intersection of Juan N. Álvarez and Periférifo Norte. The freshmen were under fire by the municipal police in Iguala, and students at the school organized and traveled to the scene to help their schoolmates.
Edgar and his peers arrived at approximately 11:15 pm, after the 43 students had been forcibly disappeared, and when remaining students were protecting the crime scene and preparing to hold a news conference with reporters and professors of the CETEG (State Coordinator of Education Workers in Guerrero.) While they examined the scene, gunmen fired at close range, hitting Edgar, who was able to escape a second shot by falling to the ground, rolling, and crawling to safety. Fellow schoolmates managed to get him to the nearby Cristina Clinic, where, despite his wounds, Edgar was denied treatment and the students were harassed and threatened by military personnel who arrived shortly after.
Amid the chaos, the students finally managed to get a taxi to transport Edgar to the municipal hospital in Iguala two hours after he was shot. Doctors there told him that had he been delayed five minutes, he would have died. His diagnosis was facial trauma with upper maxillary fracture and soft tissue loss of the labial floor, palatine floor, and upper lip. The gunman who had intended to kill Edgar had succeeded in fracturing his jaw and causing serious facial damage. Edgar underwent multiple major surgeries over the following four years to repair, reconstruct, and rehabilitate from his injuries.
During this very difficult time, Edgar considered discontinuing his studies at the Normal de Ayotzinapa but was able to complete his degree at the school thanks to the support of his 2012-2016 generation partners, who visited him regularly and sought ways for teachers to allow him to complete the coursework remotely.
Edgar received his Primary Education Degree from the Escuela Normal Rural Raúl Isidro Burgos de Ayotzinapa on July 31, 2016 at the graduation ceremony for the 2012-2016 generation of students that now bears his name, a dedication the student community made in his honor.
Edgar thanked his classmates, teachers, parents, and all those who accompanied him during the previous two years, and called on new teachers to bring the demand for justice wherever they exercise their profession, every place they go, and to raise their voices so that their 43 disappeared schoolmates are presented alive. "Wherever we go to work, we must continue to remind our colleagues that, like us, when they entered here they had that dream and hopefully they will also achieve it.”
In September, 2017, 3 years after the attacks in Iguala, and one year after becoming a primary school teacher, Edgar added another professional goal: to become a lawyer. He entered law school with the intention of helping those like him: "Many people, like the Prodh Center, helped me, supported me, and I feel grateful and I would like to help those people who require it in the future.”
Through his education at Ayotzinapa, and his own difficult journey, Edgar has seen and experienced the effects of government injustices against the country’s most vulnerable. It is his new life plan to contribute to change in society: “Who’s going to protect the people?”