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Julio César Ramírez Nava

For me he was the most valuable thing in life, my son, but he was taken away. 

Here I am. I will fight until the last breath of life that I have.

Julio César grew up watching his mother Bertha Nava work tirelessly as a housekeeper and laundress to provide for her family, which was never enough to lift them out of poverty. The family often relied on donations of food and clothes from good-hearted employers, and also from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers' College near where they lived in Tixtla, Guerrero. Bertha and her husband Tomás Ramírez Jiménez, a basketmaker, struggled to provide a modest life for Julio César and his siblings Dalia, Ariel and Eustorgio, but they were happy. Julio César was a quiet and obedient son, somewhat fragile due to a broken collarbone in his childhood, he made up for any physical weakness with his strength of character. He worked through his childhood; as a bricklayer’s assistant, day laborer in cornfields, at an employee at internet cafe, and also set up equipment for local bands. He never complained about the holes in his shoes, or asked his parents to buy him things.


Julio César believed that education would lead him and his family out of poverty. He finished high school at the National College of Technical Professional Education (Conalep) of Tixtla after studying computer science but he longed to become a teacher to educate young children and to advise their parents. Ever-devoted to his mother, and adoring of his niece Yaremi Guadalupe, his goal was to save enough of his salary to buy a little bit of land for his mother and his family to build a home on.


Although reserved, when anyone needed assistance, Julio César would help out without a second thought. This was the case on the evening of September 26, 2014, when his schoolmates in Iguala called for help from the intersection of Juan N. Álvarez and Periférifo Norte where they were under fire from municipal police and unable to escape.


“They shot some students. I came to support the boys. I'm fine mommy, don't worry.” Julio César spoke to his mother at 11:44 that night, after arriving at the scene and while students were protecting evidence and preparing to hold a press conference. Just a few minutes later, the students were ambushed in a fourth attack, taking the lives of Julio César and Daniel Solís Gallardo, and injuring many others, including Edgar Andrés Vargas.


The gesture of courage by her son was enough to change Bertha Nava's life. Doña Bertha remains an outspoken activist for the families of the Ayotzinapa 43, and is revered by the students at the Normal Rural, who call her “aunt.” Her mission is to finish what her son left incomplete: to rescue his 43 classmates, and to obtain justice for all the victims. "Where is my son? He already rests. Now my struggle is to find the children of my companions. I feel they are my own children.”

In the early morning hours of December 1, 2018, Don Tomás passed away from kidney failure, a condition that had worsened in the years following his son’s death. Bertha and her husband’s lasts words to each other were about Julio César, that soon Don Tomás would be together with their “flaquito” (little skinny.) 

With my last breath / Con mi último aliento
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