José Ángel Campos Cantor
For us they are people of our blood, they are human and they are our children, and yes we will keep going until they return them to us.
- Bernardo Campos Santos
Bernardo Campos Santos remembers as one of the happiest days of his life when his eldest son Jose Ángel told him that he had been admitted to the Ayotzinapa Teachers' College. Don Bernardo was aware that the best way to escape poverty is through education and was proud that Jose Ángel would attend the school that he confesses to know as well the palm of his hand: "When I was seven years old, I used to come here to sell jelly, and over the years I have worked in the construction of some classrooms."
Don Bernardo has had no rest since his son José Ángel was forcibly disappeared on September 26, 2014. He left work in the field and construction and interrupted his old dream of finishing the rebuilding of his house. He has neglected his diabetes and his gastric ulcer, and cares for his wife Romana Cantor Abraján, who has had consecutive eye operations. Once a farmer and a bricklayer, Don Bernardo spent a long time away from his family, forced to move to the cities where he obtained work. The family suffered the distance and each time he returned there were many happy days of reunion. José Ángel and his brothers learned masonry with their father and together they built the family home in the El Fortín neighborhood in Tixtla, Guerrero.
José Ángel was a child when he started running after a ball, dedicating his afternoons to soccer when he was in school. A forward striker, he joined several teams in the area, such as Vaqueros and Los Lochos, who became champions during three consecutive tournaments. Although he had talent, José Ángel never thought about dedicating himself professionally to soccer because his family's financial problems occupied him most of the time. Such is his passion for soccer that when his first daughter was born on July 3, 2006, she was given the name of his favorite team: América.
When he was 23 years old José Ángel fell in love with his neighbor Blanca Alejandra González Cantú. They dated secretly for a year, and then decided to build their lives together. In order to support his new family, José Ángel followed in his father's footsteps as a farmer, and then fattened and sold bulls. He was also a mason's assistant and a blacksmith, but even then he could not make ends meet with empty pockets. In September 2013, Hurricane Manuel flooded Tixtla, leaving behind the stench of black water. When three quarters of the municipality of Tixtla flooded, José Ángel became a volunteer rescuer to help the victims.
José Ángel plays saxophone and plays in a “Chile Frito” (Fried Chilli) band, typical of Guerrero. These are the brass and drum bands that accompany local fiestas and dances with lively chilenas. He is also a folkloric dancer, one of The Tlacololeros, or farmers who perform a dance in honour of Tlaloc, the God of Fertility and water so that he will provide rain to water the farmers’ crops.
América Natividad was eight years old when her father was forcibly disappeared. Her sister Gabriela, born on July 28, was just three months old. “My little girl Gabi is getting to know her dad by photographs. With her I am both grandfather and father," says Don Bernardo. "When I go to Mexico City she asks me: 'Grandpa, where are you going?' We go to Mexico City to get them to give us your dad and the sons.” For Don Bernardo the desire to see his son again is greater than his state of health, which has deteriorated since José Ángel's forced disappearance. He has sold his house, and has not rested for a day in the fight "not only for my boy, but also for his companions."