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NORTH AMERICA / MEXICO
No progress made in the case of the Ayotzinapa education students
Fabrizio Lorusso
10/10/2016
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Authorities are still unable to determine the whereabouts of the 43 students disappeared two years ago.

“If you had a son who disappeared, would you sit and do nothing or would you still be out there looking for him for years?,” is the question that Mario González restated in a news conference on Sep. 22. He is the father of César González, one of the students from the Ayotzinapa’s Rural Teachers College who disappeared along with other 42 classmates on Sep. 26, 2014, in the southwestern state of Guerrero.

Two years after the crime, in which members of the Iguala and Cocula local police murdered six people and wounded dozen others, and detained 43 education students to then turn them over to a group of drug traffickers, the government and the Attorney General’s Office (PGR), the later in charge of the investigation, have not been able to determine the whereabouts of the students.

Protests, marches and other activities took place in more than 100 cities around the world on Sep. 26 and 27demanding the truth and justice for the 43 students and their families; families that have headed a tireless social movement and who have in the past year organized caravans in Europe, the United States and South America.

“We once again say that the truth and justice are essential demands and the punishment for those guilty, all of those who are guilty, will born by the struggle from below,” declared the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) and the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) in a statement before the demonstrations.

The documentary “Mirar morir. El Ejército en la noche de Iguala” (“Watching them die: the Mexican army and the 43 disappeared”) was shown in some 30 countries. The documentary was directed by Mexican filmmaker Coizta Grecko with the script written by Témoris Grecko, both of whom highlight the role of the Armed Forces in various key moments during the attack against the students.

“Where are they? What happened to them? Not knowing is the cruelest punishment. Keep in mind that all human life is sacred; not just the lives of your friends,” said  Roger Waters, the founder of the British band Pink Floyd, during a concert on Sep. 28 that took place in the Mexican capital, addressing the Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

“Historical truth”
According to data from the National Register of Missing and Disappeared Persons (RNPED), between 2007 and December 2015, the cumulative number of missing persons nationwide reaches 27,887, with 48 percent of that total corresponding to the mandate of Peña Nieto.

The official version of the Iguala-Ayotzinapa case presented in January 2015 by the then Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam, who even elevated it to a “historical truth,” states that members of the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel had incinerated the 43 students in the garbage dump of Cocula, after the municipal police, in collusion with the criminals, had turned the students over to them. On the afternoon of Sep. 27, the criminals would have placed the remains of the students in plastic bags and thrown the bags into the nearby San Juan River. The PGR has not established the responsibility of the members of the Federal Police and the Army who were present at the scene.

However, investigations conducted in 2015 and 2016 by experts from the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF), by groups of independent journalists and by members of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI), appointed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), have substantially disputed the report of the PGR and helped to open new hypotheses and prevent the case from being closed too soon.

According to the final report of the GIEI from last April, a real operation to apprehend the students was conducted for several hours in the “Night of Iguala,” with the participation of not only the local police, but also the Federal, State and Ministerial Police and the Armed Forces in “perfect coordination” and informed in “real-time” of the attacks.

“The evidence is going to come out slowly; but what was known from the beginning is that the background documentation allows us to state with certainty that the army played the role of containment for the operation and for violations to take place,” Francisco Cerezo, a human rights defender of the Cerezo Committee Mexico, told Latinamerica Press.

“The background documentation is when we have no direct elements, like an eyewitness, but going by the way the operation was carried out, we can recognize patterns of behavior in violation of human rights,” Cerezo says.

Numerous testimonies of alleged criminals arrested in 2014 for the occurrences in Iguala, of whom 130 remain imprisoned without a trial, were testimonies obtained under torture and thus invalidate the results of the investigation.

Silence conspiracy
Different studies have shown that it is impossible to burn 43 bodies in the manner described by those detained and by what is on the official record. The GIEI said that the PGR put aside an important line of investigation with regards to one of the buses that the students had taken and that, without their knowledge, it could have been loaded with heroine and that this triggered the persecution of the students by corrupt policemen and drug traffickers.

Finally, from the records of the official file, it turns out that the cell phone of Julio César Mondragón, one of the six students killed in Iguala, had been stolen and it had been used to make calls up until Apr. 2015. This is what Francisco Cruz, author of La Guerra que nos Ocultan (The war they hide from us), discovered along with journalists Félix Santana and Miguel Ángel Alvarado regarding the case of the 43 missing students.

According to Cruz, the traces of that phone lead to the offices of the Center for Investigation and National Security (CISEN) and the Military Camp No. 1 in Mexico City. There is a “silence conspiracy” in place to protect the Armed Forces, he says.

So the pressure is growing for the PGR and the Executive. On Sep. 21, Jan Jarab, a representative of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Mexico, insisted that the case not be closed.

“It cannot go unpunished, the case is not solved yet, there is no guarantee that everyone will face punishment,” he said.

After the government’s refusal in April to renew the mandate of the GIEI, the IACHR announced the implementation of other mechanism to follow-up on the recommendations made by the experts to the Mexican authorities. Since Sep. 9, the IACHR has been monitoring the implementation of the necessary measures to determine the situation and whereabouts of the 43 students identified as missing.

“This is a positive step because although the Mexican government discarded the GIEI, surveillance is still maintained by an international organization to try to make the government comply with the recommendations,” Cerezo said. —Latinamerica Press.


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Relatives of Ayotzinapa victims march demanding justice. / Párika Benítez
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