September 26, 2018, was the fourth anniversary of the tragic night of Iguala, of impunity and pain. Between the night of September 26 and the dawn of September 27, 2014, in the city of Iguala, state of Guerrero, Mexico, a brutal attack by the municipal police forces of the region resulted in the forced disappearance of 43 students, 6 people murdered (3 of them were students) and dozens of people injured due to the immense amount of bullets used.
The Mexican president-elect, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), recently met with the parents of these 43 students and assured that he would reopen the Ayotzinapa case as soon as he assumes presidency. Yesterday, it was officially announced from the Museum Memory and Tolerance the appointment of a National Truth Commission to investigate all cases of forced disappearance.
The students were from the Normal Rural School “Raul Isidro Burgos”, of Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, Mexico. The students were young people, mostly 18 to 21 years old, coming from peasant families and poor households, defenders of public education, committed to social transformation in the country, and were studying to become the educators of most isolated and forgotten peasant population, the dispossessed of the far corners of Mexico. The Normal Rural School of Ayotzinapa is located in one of the poorest states in the country and has served as a conscious voice to generate popular movements to combat the neo-liberal policies of the recent governments. For decades, the government has tried to eliminate the Normal Rural Schools in Mexico, condemning them to constant criminalization and brutal repression.
The Mexican State’s theory about the facts of the Iguala case is that the attack was caused by the local interests of drug trafficking, politicians involved and their corrupt police. According to the official investigations, the municipal police delivered the students to a group of drug trafficking assassins who took them to a septic pit in the mountains, where they executed them and then incinerated their corpses in open air during the dawn and the morning of September 27, later collected their ashes in a plastic bag and threw it in a nearby river to destroy all the evidence. This is “the truth” of the event for the Mexican State, who has classified it as an isolated case. As a result, the mayor of Iguala, his wife, the alleged sister of a leader of a drug cartel in the region and dozens of other suspects were imprisoned. What they don’t tell is that the attack was carried out under the watchful eye and complicity of the Federal Police and the Mexican Army; therefore it is a state crime, a case of victims of forced disappearances, in which 3 different levels of government were involved: Municipal, State and Federal.
In December 2015, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) formed the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) and sent them to Mexico to investigate the case for a year and concluded that the attack was a crime against humanity, confirmed with scientific evidence that it was impossible to incinerate 43 students in open air and that there are several investigation lines that were left un-followed to clarify completely and truthfully what happened on that tragic night. The Mexican government responded them by denying the extension of their stay in the country for 6 more months to continue the investigations, arguing that there is nothing else to do.
Throughout these years the GIEI has submitted two reports with the results of its investigations confirming that the official version of the facts is a lie, that there are important lines of investigation pending, that the relatives of the victims have not been treated properly, and that the case is not closed.
In 2018, two additional reports from different institutions were presented. The first prepared by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights titled as “Double Injustice. Report on human rights violations in the investigation of the Ayotzinapa case” indicating that there are strong grounds for believing that a part of the people arrested in Mexico at the initial stage of investigation would have been arrested arbitrarily and tortured, and that these serious violations were the subject of inadequate investigations and even cover-up. The second report, of the IACHR, was the first year Balance sheet of the Special Follow-up Mechanism of Ayotzinapa Case, in which, in addition to all of the foregoing, the Commission reiterates that, at almost four years, there is no person in this case that is being prosecuted under the criminal type of forced disappearance and there is not even a single conviction sentence.
Forced disappearance is a systematic practice that is used to dismantle social movements and organizations seen as a threat. In Mexico, there is no national registry or a law that establishes this crime. In this sphere of absolute impunity, the military and police apparatus is deployed throughout the territory repressing the population protected under the so-called Merida Initiative or Plan Mexico, financed by the United States, under the pretext of the war against drugs, reinforced by recently enacted Internal Security Act.
This simulation has only served to provide counter insurgency training and equip the State’s repressive forces with high technology, while the drug trafficking and its business doesn’t stop. The consequences have been horrifying: only since 2006, there have been more than 150,000 deaths, more than 30,000 disappearances, hundreds of political prisoners and obliteration of entire communities to expropriate their lands and resources. The barbarism and rampant illegality in which the militarization imposed in the country moves, has served the big interests of the transnational oligarchy in alliance with the political class. Ayotzinapa is another victim of this macabre plan.
Translation by Tanya Wadhwa