Absent Justice, Parents of Missing Students Condemn Mexico's "Narco-Politics"

Photos of the missing students arranged during a protest in Mexico City last October. (Photo: Reuters)

Absent Justice, Parents of Missing Students Condemn Mexico's "Narco-Politics"

"Those people are cold-blooded and their eyes say it all," said one mother, referring to President Enrique Peña Nieto's government

The parents of 43 Ayotzinapa students who will have been missing for one year on Saturday came out of a meeting with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Thursday "immensely angry" and demanding justice they fear will never come.

"Those people are cold-blooded and their eyes say it all," said one mother, referring to officials in Pena Nieto's government.

"The State is responsible for disappearing our children," the parents said in a written statement published (Spanish) Thursday in La Jornada. "The state has permitted the narco-politics to control Guerrero, and to generate a historic lie that today has been exposed and which tortured us by granting privileges to politicians instead of looking out for the rights of the victims."

As Lauren Carasik argued at Al Jazeera America on Friday, the case has been mishandled from the start:

[I]nstead of diligently uncovering the truth, Mexican authorities put forth an implausible theory that placed blame solely on local actors. Officials originally maintained that the motive for the attack was to thwart a planned protest at a speech by the wife of Iguala's mayor, but she was done speaking before the attack began. They later said the students might have been mistaken for a rival drug gang, though federal authorities were monitoring the students from the moment they left Ayotzinapa. The [Inter-American Commission of Human Rights] report found that forensic evidence at the alleged burn site refutes claims of mass incineration. A charred bone fragment from one of the missing students was found among the ashes, but previous investigators, including a forensic team from Argentina, openly questioned whether it was burned there. And it is clear that the local police did not act alone. State and federal police were at least aware of the attacks at nine locations, which were more than three hours apart, but failed to intervene. Military intelligence officers were seen at two of the attack scenes.

The government destroyed or mishandled evidence, including closed-circuit video recordings and official communications. It has refused to allow the panel of experts to question army officers. One of the five buses carrying the disappeared students has never been located. And authorities relied on testimony obtained from gang members and officers who later alleged they were tortured -- a familiar tactic for security forces.

During Thursday's meeting, the president reportedly said he would "consider" all eight demands put forth by the parents, which TeleSUR translated and summarized in full.

According to TeleSUR, those demands include:

  1. Acknowledgement of the legitimacy of our search for justice and that the case remain open.
  2. We demand that the [Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts] remain active investigating the case and that their reports and recommendations be accepted. It is time that you President commit to changes in this country and that you guarantee truth and justice for Ayotzinapa.
  3. We ask that the investigation be rethought and retaken by a special investigative unit, under international supervision. This unit should focus on two objectives: to an in-depth investigation into the whereabouts of our children and another to focus on the montage set up to [deceive] us and lie to us and make a mockery of us. (This point has a series of other request that basically demand a full investigation with no regards to the consequences to the government.)
  4. To re-launch a serious search of our children with the immediate use of all technology available. We have suffered throughout the past year seeing the lack of coordination by your government in the search for our children.
  5. We ask the mechanism be put in place for a permanent and respectful communication between us and about our rights. We cannot accept the continuation of lies to us and the Mexican society as a whole.
  6. Acceptance and actions in light of the crisis of impunity in the country, the corruption and the widespread violation of human rights in Mexico. Our children are not the only ones that have been forcibly disappeared in this country. Tens of thousands of families are searching for their loved ones, while our country is transformed into one huge mass grave.

Pena Nieto did on Thursday order the creation of a special prosecutor's office to investigate the disappearances, though a spokesman did not explain how it differed from a similar unit created in 2013.

And Vidulfo Rosales, a lawyer for the parents, said the president had not yet "committed to fulfilling any" of the listed demands--and that promises made by Pena Nieto were not new.

As the parents declared in their statement: "President, we do not trust your institutions nor your government, which has sought to deceive us, and it is only because we profoundly desire to hug our children again [that] we are here before you once again."

The families, other students, and concerned citizens will join a demonstration in Mexico City on Saturday to mark one year since the disappearance.

On Friday, Amnesty International published a series of photographs documenting how relatives of the missing students are coping.

"The government says that we should get over the pain," said Maximino Hernandez Cruz, father of Carlos Lorenzo Hernandez Munoz, "but they are wrong because we will not overcome this pain until the 43 are found and those responsible are punished. We will not rest."

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