My goal is to find him, hug him along with my wife and his brothers and sisters. I want him to know that we continue, we’re not going to stop looking for him until we find out the truth.
- Estanislao Mendoza Chocolate
Miguel Ángel Mendoza Zacarías is a much loved member of the town of Apango, Martir De Cuilapan, in Guerrero, where he grew up with his two younger siblings. His mother, Margarita Zacarías, recalls why he is so loved by neighbors: "When his friends got sick, he brought them fruit, milk and bread. He played with the children of the neighborhood and gave them toys on the Día de Los Reyes. When the city of Tixtla was flooded, in 2013, he helped the people who lost their things and collected food for the victims.”
At age 18, Miguel Ángel was accepted into the Ayotzinapa Rural Teacers’ College but left before completing his studies. He was 20 years old when he emigrated to the United States, where he lived in California with his father Estanislao Mendoza Chocolate. There he worked in restaurants and stores for four years, before returning home with his father.
When Miguel Ángel returned to Mexico he helped his father in the fields and was also a masonry worker in the city of Taxco, and a photographer of social events. He took a course in the local church so that he could become a barber to earn money to buy books for his studies. He left Apango to study medicine at the Universidad Autónoma Latinoamericana Caribeña de Ciencias y Artes, a new institution for indigenous students, in town of Atliaca, municipality of Tixtla but was unable to continue because state and federal authorities did not officially recognize the school.
By the time Miguel Ángel entered Ayotzinapa a second time he was 28 years old, looked out for the younger students, gave them advice, and was well liked by his classmates. He brought one of his roommates home to Apango for the weekend. As they walked through town, Miguel Ángel introduced him to his friends and neighbors and made him feel at home.
On the patio of the Mendoza Zacarías home there are footprints in the concrete from when Miguel Ángel was just starting to walk. The day his father poured the slab he proudly let his son leave the impressions, celebrating the family they were building. Estanislao Mendoza and Margarita Zacarías will not rest in their struggle for truth and justice until their son returns, his footsteps on the patio once again.