I don't want the help of the government, I want my son. He is irreplaceable
- Calixta Valerio
"Mom, I'm going to study in Ayotzinapa so that I can earn something and not have to work so much," Mauricio told his mother, Calixta. The Ortega Valerio family is of Me'phaa origin from Monte Alegre, in the municipality of Malinaltepec, Guerrero. From the age of eight years old, Mauricio took care of the cattle, repaired corrals, carried the harvest with mules, pastured the goats, and harvesting coffee from December to April. In communities like Monte Alegre, bartering is common and traditional. The Ortega Valerio family collects what the land gives to exchange it for other products, which provides a small income.
Mauricio spent hours of fun playing basketball and volleyball, and in the nearby river, where he bathed and fished with the other children. When he was twelve, Mauricio left his small town - with fewer inhabitants than the total number of students attending Ayotzinapa - for Ayutla de los Libres, where he lived with his uncle in order to study in high school. During this time Mauricio also became a skilled carpenter and craftsman of tables, chairs, windows, and whatever he was commissioned to make.
Eleucadio Ortega, Mauricio’s father, always encouraged the third of his six children to do his homework and attend school regularly. He advised his son to pursue higher education and study for a career, having regretted missing the opportunity to train as a teacher when he was younger. When he was 18, Mauricio began his studies in Ayotzinapa with the dream of being a great teacher, to bring financial stability to his family and education to his community as a bilingual teacher.
In Guerrero, more than 55 percent of the population has not finished basic education and in the region of La Montaña, the United Nations reports up to 60 percent illiteracy, while 67 percent of the population does not have enough to eat, according to data from the National Social Development Policy Evaluation Council report. Mauricio's father does not need statistics to relate his son's forced disappearance to the poverty and impunity that affects Mexico. Since the night of September 26, 2014, Don Eleucadio left the land where Me'phaa is spoken and has crossed every possible border to demand justice. He speaks of the necessity for a profound transformation within Mexico, and appeals to intellectuals, students and academics to implement "real change. Not only for the 43, but also for all the problems in the country.”