Normalist students show the photographs of the 43 disappeared students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Normal School when accompanying their relatives in a march on the sixth anniversary of the disappearance of the 43 students, in Mexico City, on Saturday, September 26, 2020. (EFE Agency)
Mexico City – On September 26, 2014, not only were six people murdered and 43 teacher students from the southern state of Guerrero disappeared, but “about 80 people were massacred and hidden in Iguala by different criminal groups and their official accomplices. “Said Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero on Saturday.
Six years after one of the most serious human rights violations in the recent history of Mexico, it is still unknown what happened to the students of the Ayotzinapa Rural Normal school, although the current authorities consider it proven that there was a “generalized cover-up” and official of disappearances and there are some advances – such as the ordering of the capture of characters who, until now, seemed untouchable: military, federal police and high officials .
What facts are proven?
A group of students arrived in Iguala to temporarily '”confiscate” buses to go on a march, but were attacked by Iguala police and other security corporations, the number of which is not clear. The city's intelligence center (C4), where state, federal authorities and the military operate, monitored the events in real time, although crucial videos from that night have disappeared.
The youths were apparently turned over to members of a local cartel, Guerreros Unidos, who disappeared them. That night there were blockades and clashes between armed individuals on various roads in the area.
What happened next remains unclear.
What remains of the “historical truth”?
The key point of the official version of the previous government, described by the then attorney general Jesús Murillo Karam as “historical truth”, was that the 43 students were cremated in a hollow that was the garbage dump in Cocula, a town near Iguala. Later, according to this hypothesis, the criminals threw their ashes into a nearby river where one of those bags was found shortly afterwards.
Independent experts and international experts already indicated four years ago that there was no evidence to corroborate such a version. The alleged mass cremation was only supported by statements by alleged perpetrators who were later found to have been tortured.
The international experts confirmed that in the dump there were human remains that were impossible to identify and traces of fires from different times since that place was used by organized crime to dispose of its victims.
A bone found in the nearby river was identified as that of one of the students, Alexander Mora, but how it got there was never determined. Now, the prosecution assures that his finding was “a hoax.”
Before the last government ended, the historical truth was slightly reformulated to affirm that only a group of students was cremated in the garbage dump and not all.
The recent discovery in a place other than the garbage dump, even within the same municipality, of a remnant identified in July as that of another student, Christian Alfonso Rodríguez, confirmed that “the historical truth is over,” the current prosecutor for the case, Omar Gómez Trejo.
Is there a new version of how and why the 43 disappeared?
No. And both the independent experts, who continue to advise the government, and the victims' representatives ask that a new narrative not be precipitated and that each one of the data obtained from protected informants and witnesses be corroborated.
Both the prosecution and the government have assured that there will not be a new official version until everything is confirmed.
The attorney general announced, however, that everything is part of drug trafficking and the protection that the local cartel had from the authorities. Iguala was a neuralgic storage point for heroin or opium gum from the nearby mountains, which was trafficked to Chicago on buses like the ones the students tried to take.
Are you still looking for students?
Yes. About thirty searches have been carried out. Many clues were false, in others other victims unrelated to the youth were located. And in one of them the bone of Christian Alfonso Rodríguez was located.
But the prosecutor Gómez Trejo said that other bones located in December 2014 in the same area, La Carnicería, are still pending analysis. That the authorities then said that they were not from the students without checking their DNA is, in their opinion, another sign of the concealment of evidence that there was. They will now be sent to Austria for analysis.
How is the legal process going?
Slow. In 2018, the Mexican justice ordered its total replacement because the federal prosecutor's office had not been impartial. This, together with a multitude of irregularities since evidence was rejected as the result of torture, led to more than 70 of the 140 detainees being released because they won protection . In other cases, it was confirmed that there were bribes to judges. Among them were key defendants, outraging families.
Now, in addition to the twenty arrest warrants for alleged material and intellectual perpetrators, almost a hundred more have been issued against others linked to the case , some of whom are already in prison for other processes. The highest authorities in jail at this time are the mayor of Iguala, José Luis Abarca, and his wife.
But that among the new defendants are senior officials of the former prosecution for torture or concealment of forced disappearance, and that they are finally willing to go against those who seemed untouchable, such as the military, is the beginning of the end of the pacts of silence which, according to the government, prevented reaching the truth of the case.