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Magdaleno Rubén Lauro Villegas

The government has offered us houses, political positions, and even direct money, but I won’t sell my child. He doesn’t have a price.

- Francisco Lauro Villegas

Magdaleno Rubén is from the small community of Tlatzala, located in the high mountain of the municipality of Tlapa de Comonfort., in the region of La Montaña de Guerrero. Populated by a little more than a thousand people, dirt roads make up the streets of the little more than 300 gray concrete houses of the town, engulfed by the colorful dahlias and bougainvillea. Here, the majority of the inhabitants are indigenous Ñuu Savi, “people of the rain,” and almost 77 percent of them are bilingual. From this community and others similar to the profile of Tlatzala, come a large part of the Ayotzinapa 43.


"Mom, let me study. I'm not going to let you down."

If anything characterizes Magdaleno Rubén Lauro Villegas, it is his perseverance. His mother remembers that when he watched his two older brothers leave for secondary school he did not want to enter kindergarten because he wanted to go "to a school for the big ones.” That day, with his first red backpack, the color that from that day would become his favorite for schoolwork, he entered the same primary where all his brothers failed a year, except him. He was a student of the second generation of the only secondary school in Tlatzala, but to continue with high school he moved to a boarding school that was an hour and a half away from his home. He returned on weekends but the journey was complex because his father, Francisco Lauro Villegas, brought him home through the mountains on a donkey.


“We were born here and we live here,” says Juliana, Magdaleno Rubén’s mother. The family built their house little by little with their work in the cornfield, where they grow corn, beans and pumpkins. Francisco also distributes drinking water to other homes in Tlatzala.


As children, Magdaleno Rubén and his siblings Francisco, Tania, Raúl and Ismael learned to plant corn and beans, and work in the fields with the family. Quiet and serious , Magdaleno Rubén likes to ride his bike, play basketball and walk with his friends in the afternoon.


The day he left for Ayotzinapa with the dream of becoming a bilingual teacher, he held his mother’s hands, kissed them and promised “Chief, I'm going to school and I will become a teacher so that I can give you money for the fertilizer, because you like to sow. And on vacation we will work hard in the field to have corn.”


Juliana watched her son leave with only his red backpack on his shoulder, and his heart full of dreams.

Magdaleno Rubén Lauro Villegas
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