Seven years after Ayotzinapa, the families of the disappeared students demand more progress in the emblematic case | Only three of the 43 young people were identified and one of the most suspected former officials remains at large in Israel

September 27, 2021 by archyde

“Where are they?”, the relatives of the 43 students of the rural school of Ayotzinapa disappeared between September 26 and 27, 2014 in Iguala, Guerrero state. “Neither with tanks nor shrapnel, Ayotzi does not shut up”shouted hundreds of normal school students who shared their pain in mobilizations in Mexico City and in other parts of the country. Seven years after one of the greatest human rights tragedies in Mexican history, the remains of only three of the 43 young people were identified and the main investigator of the case in the previous government, Thomas Zerón, remains a fugitive in Israel.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced days ago to the families of the missing students working on two new searches for remains. In addition, people in charge of the government of Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018) are still being investigated who sought to get rid of the matter based on a false account of the events constructed from the torture of witnesses. Nevertheless, satiety begins to surface in families, also hit by the recent death by coronavirus of two parents, Saúl Bruno and Bernardo Campos. “Although this government was committed from the beginning to solve the Ayotzinapa case, this does not imply that there have been many advances. And it is worrying because the six-year term (presidential term) is leaving us, and as time goes by it is more difficult to get to the truth “, explains the Page 12 Manuel Vazquez Arellano, one of the survivors of the tragedy.

The wreckage that collapsed the historical truth

According to the government version of Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018), the 43 students from the Ayotzinapa rural school were arrested on the night of September 26, 2014 by police in Iguala, who handed them over to the Guerreros Unidos cartel, which murdered them and incinerated in the Cocula garbage dump, dumping the remains in a nearby river, the San Juan. This story, known as the “historical truth”, was questioned by the next of kin and by an investigation by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and its Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) that indicated that the bodies could not be burned in that place.

The López Obrador government definitively overturned that version by identifying the unburned remains of Christian Alfonso Rodríguez in 2020 and of Jhosivani Guerrero de la Cruz in June of this year, both in the Carnicería ravine, outside the garbage dump. From Rodríguez it was a fragment of the foot that weighed barely one gram, from Guerrero a lumbar vertebra. Those two identifications are added to that of Alexander Mora Venancio, whose remains were found in the San Juan River in 2014. “These steps in the right direction, that we as a human rights organization can understand that they are going in the right direction, since From the perspective of families who have been waiting for the truth for seven years, it knows very little“, warns this newspaper Santiago Aguirre, director of the Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center (Prodh).

The Truth and Access to Justice Commission for the Ayotzinapa case, directed by Alejandro Encinas, assumes that the students were never in the same place together and that criminals and security forces of all levels participated in the disappearance, not just municipal police. Encinas maintains that the purpose of the students’ trip was not to interrupt an act of the president of the Integral Family Development system (DIF) of Iguala, María de los Ángeles Pineda, wife of the then mayor José Luis Abarca, as she wanted to present initially.

Actually young people between 17 and 25 years old were looking for collectives to move to Mexico City on October 2. That day 46 years of the Tlatelolco massacre, where the military and parapolice agents fiercely repressed a student protest, leaving at least 300 dead. For Aguirre it is clear that the historical truth “was postulated as the closing narrative of the case, more for a political decision than on the basis of evidence and more for a motivation to quell all the social indignation that had aroused in Mexico. “

Arrest warrants and fugitives

A year ago, on the sixth anniversary of the tragedy, President López Obrador announced that for the first time arrest warrants were being issued against the military for the case and shortly after Captain José Martínez Crespo was arrested. But while they value the efforts of the Truth Commission and the specialized prosecutor, Omar Gómez, the relatives of the disappeared students understand that the Attorney General’s Office is delaying with the arrests and that the Army hides information.

“You have to fill out the arrest warrants. It is good that there is the pointing to key people, but also we are seeing that many of those key people have been assassinated in the last few months“, he comments Vazquez Arellano. The figures are overwhelming: Of the 89 arrest warrants for the Ayotzinapa case, 40 are still pending.. In addition, at least 21 people linked to the case were killed or killed.

The arrest warrants include, in addition to the possible perpetrators, former government officials who designed the historical truth. Last Friday, during a meeting between the government and families, Lopez Obrador announced that sent a letter to the Prime Minister of Israel, Naftali Bennett, to expedite the delivery of Thomas Zerón, who fled to that country with which Mexico does not have an extradition treaty.

Director of the now defunct Criminal Investigation Agency, Zerón is accused of constructing the historical truth through the fabrication of evidence and the torture of suspects and witnesses. “It is essential to investigate torture, especially because in Mexico torture continues with a lot of recurrence, being a generalized investigation practice in the country’s prosecutor’s offices that usually goes unpunished,” Aguirre points out in this regard.

A recurring story

The Ayotzinapa case is emblematic in a country that is going through a severe crisis with more than 90 thousand people missing since 1964, the vast majority after 2007. “There is still a very high number of disappearances in recent years, and we are not yet seeing a serious effort from the State in Mexico to address this crisis.”, remarks Aguirre. For the director of the Prodh Center, the vast majority of the disappeared occurred “after the war against drug trafficking intensified and Mexico was plunged into the crisis of violence we are in. ”

Manuel Vázquez Arellano, one of the survivors of Ayotzinapa, he called himself Omar García for a long time to protect his identity from the threats he had been receiving since the night of September 26. Months ago, Vázquez Arellano He was elected federal deputy by the ruling Morena. That is why his analysis of what can happen in the case does not exclude the political sphere: “If the ‘priistas’ or ‘panistas’ (opposition parties) return to power, the case is closed. If the government of the fourth transformation continues, it will be necessary to see how the investigation continues, if in the same terms in which it is now or with more force as the families deserve. “

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Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my