Jhosivani Guerrero de la Cruz
These are young lives we’re talking about here. If anyone thinks that we’re going to stop our fight for justice, they’re wrong. Imagine if the children disappeared were children of the government figures who don’t want to hear from us? They’d be found in two days. But for us and our children, children of poor farmers, all we have from the government is pure lies and no news of what happened to our children.
- Margarito Guerrero
Martina de la Cruz, mother of Jhosivani, says he was mischievous as a young boy and liked to play with toy cars; he’d dismantle them and put them back together again or use the bits to invent something new. Years later he would study mechanics and car repair in Conalep (National College of Technical Professional Education) in Titxtla, but what he likes most is to build electronic devices. His sisters always criticized him because his room was a mess, between cables and electrical appliances that he liked to take apart and build. His mother, who he affectionately called “Martha,” was the only one authorized to enter his room. It was she who washed his clothes and prepared food for him.
Jhosivani Guerrero de la Cruz is the youngest of a family of seven children from the community of San Juan Omeapa, in Tixtla, Guerrero. His father, Margarito Guerrero, emigrated to the United States for work when Jhosivani was one and half years old. His brothers Nahú, Ubisael and Iván followed their father across the border. By the time his father returned to Mexico, Jhosivani was 11 years old. “Jhosi” worked with Margarito in the field from time to time, but the relationship with his mother continued to be closer. Even when he began studying at the Conalep, he returned to Omeapa every day because he did not like to leave his mother alone.
San Juan Omeapa lacks the educational infrastructure to offer anything more than an elementary school education. Young people in the community have two options: forego an education and dedicate themselves exclusively to the countryside, or leave the community to study in other localities. When Jhosivani completed elementary school, he decided to attend high school, and walked the 2.5 miles each way to the transport that would take him to and from the school in Tixtla. When he returned home in the afternoon, he would help his family in the milpa, and look after the hens and pigs. He has always been fascinated by animals, and considered a career in veterinary medicine, but the distance and expense were both too great for the family. He desires to be a teacher and help the community because of the poverty that surrounds his family: “I don’t want to be a campesino, I want to study, to get ahead so that I could look after you, Mum.”
September 20, 2014, was the last time the family saw Jhosivani at home in San Juan Omeapa. The visit was to meet his niece Ivana, who had been born eight days before, and he took the opportunity to spend time with his two-year-old niece Melany, whom he called his "bean memelita.” He played with her, watched cartoons by her side and cut guavas just for her. In the day that Jhosivani spent with his family they began to notice something different about him. He had joined the Activist House at the Rural Normal of Ayotzinapa, and was now interested in politics and ideology. He cut the grass back without being asked, and even started sweeping and cleaning his room, something he never did. On that visit, it was time to leave everything in order.
On September 17, 2015 the Attorney General's Office (PGR) announced that Jhosivani Guerrero de la Cruz was identified by forensic experts at the University of Innsbruck, from the remains found on October 29, 2014 at the Rio San Juan, in the trash bag that also contained remains leading to the identification of Alexander Mora Venancio 10 months earlier.
The Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF), told the parents of the missing 43 that it is very unlikely that any of the remains belong to Jhosivani and affirmed that there is no concrete evidence of where the bag of remains came from, and that they cannot confirm it came from the garbage dump in Cocula, as the government claims. They further explained that the odds are very low that one of the bone fragments analyzed at the Institute of Forensic Medicine of the University of Innsbruck, in Austria, belongs to Jhosivani, as there is a 1-in-72 chance they belong to someone else.
The Mexican government’s announcement came on the heels of an Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) investigation, and the report published days earlier by the The Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI,) disputing the official account given by the government that the students were killed by an organized crime gang and incinerated in the garbage dump in Cocula.
The Guerrero de la Cruz family rejected the government’s claim that the remains found at the Rio San Juan belong to their son Jhosivani.
Doña Martina has preserved Jhosivani's room just as he left it; she keeps his clothes and the new sneakers that his older brothers have given him. His nieces and nephews are taking care the jacaranda tree that he entrusted to them.
On June 15, 2021, Vidulfo Rosales, the human rights lawyer for the parents of the disappeared students, announced that the Innsbruck laboratory in Austria confirmed the identification of Jhosivani from a vertebra fragment found in the La Carnicería ravine during a search in 2019. The same search also led to the identification in 2020 of Christian Alfonso Rodríguez Telumbre from a heel bone fragment. The devastating news only raises more questions and uncertainty of the whereabouts of the sons.