People rally on the streets of México City on November 5, 2014 demanding  an explanation from the government for what happened to the 43 students that went missing on September 26, 2014. The students attended the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural teachers college of Ayotzinapa in Iguala Guerrero.Allegedly corrupt police in Iguala  worked for the Guerreros Unidos drug gang, which authorities charge had ties to the former mayor of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda.
In response to the horrific kidnapping of 43 students from Iguala in Guerrero State, Mexicans, fed up with the country's violence and corruption, took to the streets, including this protest in Mexico City.Sebastian Liste—NOOR for TIME
People rally on the streets of México City on November 5, 2014 demanding  an explanation from the government for what happened to the 43 students that went missing on September 26, 2014. The students attended the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural teachers college of Ayotzinapa in Iguala Guerrero.Allegedly corrupt police in Iguala  worked for the Guerreros Unidos drug gang, which authorities charge had ties to the former mayor of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda.
Portraits of the missing students inChinpalcingo Zocalo (Main Square) while awoman sells ballons for the Dia de losMuertos.Chilpancingo de los Bravo is the capital ofGuerrero State and is located just 14 kmfrom the Raul Isidro Burgos de AyotzinapaCollege, the school the missing students attended. This city is the head of thedemonstrations against the government forthe lack of proof and responsibilities for the43 students who disappeared on September26th in Iguala, October 31, 2014Sebastian Liste—NOOR FOR TIME
Raul Isidro Burgos de Ayotzinapa TeachersCollege - Memorial of the 7 students whodied during the confrontations with theauthorities the night of on September 26th,where the 43 students were disappeared.November 1, 2014 Sebastian Liste—NOOR FOR TIME
XALTIANGUIS, MEXICO - NOVEMER 2, 2014:Patrol of Community Police of Xaltianguis. It´s one of the biggest and more important in Guerrero State. They searched for the students immediately after they disappeared on September 26th in Iguala. Since then, the community has been demonstrating and blocking the road from Mexico DF to the touristic Acapulco.Sebastian Liste—NOOR FOR TIME
XALTIANGUIS, MEXICO - NOVEMER 2, 2014:Patrol of Community Police of Xaltianguis. It´s one of the biggest and more important in Guerrero State. They searched for the students immediately after they disappeared on September 26th in Iguala. Since then, the community has been demonstrating and blocking the road from Mexico DF to the touristic Acapulco.
XALTIANGUIS, MEXICO - NOVEMER 2, 2014:Patrol of Community Police of Xaltianguis. It´s one of the biggest and more important in Guerrero State. They searched for the students immediately after they disappeared on September 26th in Iguala. Since then, the community has been demonstrating and blocking the road from Mexico DF to the touristic Acapulco. Here the community police search cars Sebastian Liste—NOOR FOR TIME
XALTIANGUIS, MEXICO - NOVEMER 2, 2014:Patrol of Community Police of Xaltianguis. It´s one of the biggest and more important in Guerrero State. They searched for the students immediately after they disappeared on September 26th in Iguala. Since then, the community has been demonstrating and blocking the road from Mexico DF to the touristic Acapulco.Sebastian Liste—NOOR FOR TIME
Chalk outlines representing the bodies of crime victims during a protest in Mexico City, November 5, 2014. The protestors demanded government accountability for the disappearance and alleged murder of 43 students from the rural state of Guerrero, one of the poorest in the country. Sebastian Liste—NOOR For TIME
The main cemetery in Chilpancingo, the capital and second-largest city of the state of Guerrero, Mexico. The city is on the Mexican Federal Highway 95 which connects Acapulco to Mexico City. Guerrero state, on the Pacific coast, is an important transit point for illegal shipments of cocaine and heroin arriving from South America en route to the United States, the world's largest illegal drug market. Many of the graves in the cemetery are related to drug cartel violence in the region. Sebastian Liste—NOOR FOR TIME
Ayotzinapa is steeped in a radical leftisttradition, with murals of the revolutionaryChe Guevara adorning the campus.Back in the 1970s, its alumnus Lucio Cabanasled one of Mexico’s biggest guerrillacampaigns of the 20th century. More recently,students have been protesting anoverhaul of the education system by PenaNieto, which they say threatens their jobprospects. They’ve been blocking highways,angering residents, and hijackingcommercial buses to get to their marches.They usually return the vehicles but localbusinesses complain about the disruption.On Sept. 26, about 120 of Ayotzinapa’steacher trainees went to Iguala to hijackbuses to travel to Mexico City, where theyhoped to commemorate a massacre ofstudents back in 1968.11/1/2014 Sebastian Liste—NOOR FOR TIME
The 43 disappeared and allegedly killed students of Guerrero state walked into a narco snake pit on Sept. 26. They attended AyotzinapaUniversity, a rural school foundedafter the Mexican Revolution to bringliteracy to the countryside. They camemostly from poor villages in the Guerreromountains. The university itself operateson a shoestring, with students often sleepingon floors in dilapidated buildings.Raul Isidro Burgos de Ayotzinapa TeachersCollege rooms where the first yearstudents slept. Currently it is used by theparents of the 43 missing students that arestaying all together at the school fightingand looking for the kids since they disappeared.
The father Father of one of the studentsdisappeared during the night of September26th in Iguala, photographed November 1, 2014 photographed at the Raul Isidro Burgos de Ayotzinapa TeachersCollege Sebastian Liste—NOOR FOR TIME *wanted to remain anonymous but sebastian can see if he would now agree to have his name in the caption
Mother of a student at the Raul Isidro Burgos de Ayotzinapa TeachersCollege. November 1, 2014Sebastian Liste—NOOR FOR TIME
In response to the horrific kidnapping of 43 students from Iguala in Guerrero State, Mexicans, fed up with the country's
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Sebastian Liste—NOOR for TIME
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Confronting Mexico's Latest Cruel Massacre

Nov 16, 2014

On Sept. 26, a drug gang, aided by corrupt police officers, allegedly abducted and killed 43 students in Mexico’s Southern Guerrero state. The assassins incinerated their corpses for more than 14 hours before discarding their remains into plastic bags and throwing them in a nearby river.

“Even before I arrived here, I was shocked by this story,” says photographer Sebastian Liste, who was on assignment for TIME. “But it’s only when I got to Mexico that I understood how important this event would be for this country’s contemporary history, so I was very interested and motivated to work on this story.”

Liste first visited the victims’ families. “I knew they were key in understanding the pain that so many Mexican families have been facing for so long,” he says. “All of the families were staying at that Ayotzinapa university where their kids were before they ‘were disappeared’.”

Some parents were sleeping in the same beds that used to be occupied by their children, the photographer tells TIME. “I stayed at the university during el Dia de Muertos, the country’s most important national holiday. Lots of students from all over the country were arriving to support these families and show their respects for the victims.”

Liste spoke with these families for hours as they waited for answers. “[At that time], the government had failed to provide clear information about what had happened that night,” which, he says, used to be an accepted part of life in Mexico – until that night.

“Parents all around the country started to say, ‘Enough’. “ The words “Vivos se los llevaron, vivos los queremos” [“They were taken alive, alive we want them back”] became a national anthem. “That night, the relationship between these [corrupt officials] and drug cartels was [made more evident] than ever before, and Mexican society is tired of the deaths and the disappearances. One thing is sure, it will now be difficult for them to silence an entire country.”

Sebastian Liste is represented by Noor Images. See more of his work here.

Photo essay edited by Alice Gabriner, TIME's International Photo Editor, and Mikko Takkunen, Associate Photo Editor at TIME.

Olivier Laurent is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @olivierclaurent

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