Above photo: Hundreds of people participated in the march commemorating nine years since the disappearance of the 43 students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College in Ayotzinapa, on September 26 in Mexico City. Roberto García Ortiz/La Jornada.
The parents of the disappeared students demand that a criminal investigation be opened against the former president.
And other high-ranking officials who colluded in covering up the crime.
On September 28, parents of the 43 students of the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College, who disappeared in 2014, lifted the sit-in protests that they had held for eight days in front of the Military Camp No. 1 in the capital Mexico City. The decision came after the presentation of a new report by the Commission for Truth and Access to Justice in the Ayotzinapa case (COVAJ), which revealed that a meeting of authorities had taken place in October 2014 to construct the so-called “historic truth” and that it was attended by the then president Enrique Peña Nieto, among other officials.
During a press conference held outside the military facilities, the parents stated that the report presented by the Undersecretary of Human Rights Alejandro Encinas the day before, and a new presidential instruction for the Army to deliver the pending information, “open a route that allows continuing the dialogue with the authorities regarding the investigations to find the whereabouts of our children.” They demanded that a criminal investigation be opened against former president Nieto and other high-ranking officials who participated in the meeting and colluded in covering up the crime 9 years ago.
“We believe that all the authorities that appear in Alejandro Encinas’ report as architects of the truth must be criminally investigated, an investigation must be opened and it must be exhaustive,” said Vidulfo Rosales, lawyer of the families of the missing students.
“As mothers and fathers we will continue in this struggle because a mother’s love cannot stay at home waiting for an answer. We will continue to demand that the government fulfill what it promised us, because it was a campaign promise. We are not fools, we want the truth, we want to know where our children are and what happened to them,” said Joaquina Garcia.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) committed to continuing the investigations until the entire truth is known. “We have not abandoned the case, we are going to continue investigating it for the mothers and the fathers, for justice and also for our convictions,” he said.
What Was The “Historic Truth” Of The Case Narrated By The Nieto Government?
What exactly happened between the night of September 26 and the dawn of September 27, 2014, still remains a mystery. However, what is known, through information gathered from the survivors, witnesses and independent human rights investigations, is that students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College in the town of Ayotzinapa, had commandeered buses to travel to Mexico City for the commemoration of the 1968 Tlatelolco Massacre. On their way, in the city of Iguala, in the state of Guerrero, they were attacked by law enforcement officials, who shot at the buses, killed 6 people -including 3 students- and detained 43 students who were never seen again.
The far-right government of former president Nieto claimed that some corrupt local policemen, attacked and arrested the students for local interests, and then handed them over to members of drug-trafficking group Guerreros Unidos, who supposedly killed them, incinerated their bodies in a landfill in the mountains and disposed of their remains in the nearby San Juan river.
The family members of the students and human rights organizations never believed the narrative of the Nieto government and alleged that the federal government and the army were directly involved in disappearing the students. They believed that the drug cartel story was a cover-up to hide a malicious state crime and protect high-ranking officials and institutions.
Students and human rights organizations alleged that the students from Rural Teachers’ College, known for its left-wing activism, were selectively targeted for opposing a neoliberal education bill proposed by the Nieto government in 2013.
After taking office in December 2018, as promised during his election campaign, President AMLO reopened the case and created the COVAJ to investigate what happened to the students.
In 2019, the commission published a report and it confirmed the military’s involvement in the crime, and said the students’ disappearance was a “state-sponsored crime”. The report also alleged that a retired colonel ordered the execution of six of the 43 disappeared students, who were alive for several days after the events.
In 2021, following the confession of one of the participants of the crime, the authorities discovered skeletal remains of at least three disappeared students in places different from the ones indicated in the previous government’s version, which proved the “historic truth” or the official version of the crime to be false.