When the fathers and mothers of the 43 from Ayotzinapa arrive at the Zócalo, it is already night over Mexico City. Nine years have passed since September 26, 2014, when the criminal group Guerreros Unidos and the police disappeared students in Iguala, Guerrero – one of the greatest state crimes that has already punished a country with a long history of dirty wars and oppression. And few images illustrate the break between the authorities and the victims’ relatives as well as this Tuesday evening: The National Palace is completely surrounded by high, dark blue fences; the symbol of the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, armed against the pain and anger of the women and men who continue to scream every 26 years that they want to see their children alive again. In the middle of the wall, huge graffiti in white capital letters: “It was the Army.”
You don’t even see any police on the square. As if the authorities had ignored the protest, protected only by the Marabunta Humanitarian Peace Brigade, an NGO. The relatives of the 43 have returned to the streets of the capital, from the Angel of Independence to the Zócalo, with their wounds reopened, after relations with the government stalled. The dialogue, if it has not already been interrupted, is hanging by a thread. Nine years after the abduction of the 43 teenagers from the Ayotzinapa Rural Normal School, the investigation has stalled. For the victims’ relatives, the future of the investigation lies in gaining access to a series of military intelligence files relating to alleged army espionage activities against Guerreros Unidos in the days following the disappearance. The existence of the files is supported by the investigation of the Independent Group of Experts (GIEI), which ensures that they contain relevant information about the fate of the 43.
However, the army maintains that it has already provided all the documents it has, a claim flatly rejected by both family members and the GIEI, which left Mexico in July in frustration over the military’s resistance to providing information. In their latest report, they once again targeted the military and denounced the involvement, omissions, cover-ups, intrigues and negligence of the armed forces and the various levels of government – prosecutors, state and federal authorities – a factor that has prevented progress in a political solution of the case, they say.
A contingent of the Otomí indigenous community walks along the Paseo de la Reforma during the protest.Nayeli Cruz
The relatives met last Wednesday with the president of the government, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, in a rapprochement that was on the verge of collapse and revealed the strong tensions between the presidency and the relatives. This Monday, in a new attempt in which López Obrador was no longer present but Alejandro Encinas, the Undersecretary of State for Human Rights, was present, things did not go any better. Vidulfo Rosales, the victims’ lawyer, called the meeting a “failure” and accused Encinas of deviating from the official narrative and moving closer to the “historical truth.” This version was spread by the Enrique Peña Nieto government (2012-2018) and said that the students of Guerreros Unidos were kidnapped, burned in a garbage dump and then thrown into a river. Subsequent investigations by the prosecutor’s office and the GIEI have rejected this story as a fabrication.
“Nine years after the forced disappearance of our children by the Mexican state, the biggest obstacle we face is gaining access to the Sedena (Secretariat of National Defense) documents. “We regret that the president’s position is to stand first before this institution and not before truth and justice, as he promised in his election campaign,” said Emiliano Navarrete, father of José Ángel Navarrete González, one of the missing students , during the event at rally in the Zócalo. “We will not submit to an authoritarian president, we will not fall into his game. The legal elements support us, such as the GIEI reports. “We want to know the truth about where our children are, where the government has taken them, because they are the ones who took our young people away from us.”
Parents of the young people on the stage in front of the National Palace. Monica González Islas
Rosales, who also took the floor, referred to the “critical moment” in which “the fight for the vivid representation” of the 43 is: “We want to categorically reject the account of events presented yesterday by this government.” It is not supported by evidence and contains elements and data of the so-called historical truth, an investigation that has been questioned and torn to shreds by various international organizations. “The government itself accepted that the truth remained hidden.”
The family’s lawyer criticized that the story promoted by the current government criminalizes the victims by suggesting that some of them had ties to Guerreros Unidos, a theory that is not supported by the existing evidence. Furthermore, he denounces that the new narrative limits responsibility to the municipal level of Iguala and leaves the federal authorities and “mainly parts of the Mexican army” unpunished. “The investigation has stalled due to the responsibility of this government, which has not sided with the victims but has sided with the institutions, especially the army,” he explained.
farmers and indigenous people
The demonstration was peaceful. The contingent was led by family members with impassive faces and flags with the faces of their children on their bodies. One step behind are the current students of Ayotzinapa: hundreds of young people with shaved heads, many of them dressed in black mourning, chanting a quiet and constant cry to make clear their roots: farmers, workers and indigenous people from rural areas who live in Remember that the normal schools, centers stigmatized due to their popular base and leftist ideology, are the only option for education.
A company in the historic center shields its entrances before the demonstration passes in front of its premises. Monica González Islas
The monuments, the roundabouts, the luxury hotels, the government buildings, the Palace of Fine Arts, everything now seems armored, as if the city was waiting for an invasion and not a desperate march. Store closures have been reduced over time. Through the streets of the historic center, the normalist cry has turned into a howl that has reverberated with new force, amplified by the echo of the buildings and the metallic sound of the blows against the walls. They carried three symbolic tombstones in honor of three other students who died in the attack on September 26: Julio César Ramírez Nava, Daniel Solís Gallardo and Julio César Mondragón Fonte.
Later, the situation in the Zócalo became tense. While relatives spoke on a small stage, some groups of demonstrators daubed the fences with slogans such as “Military Drug State.” A few fireworks exploded on the wall; The relatives responded via the microphone and asked for calm and a peaceful protest. The future of research was summed up in the rhetorical question that Emiliano Navarrete posed to the sky of the capital: “What are we doing, what next step?” The square smelled of fresh paint: that of the 43 names on the walls that front the National Palace nine years of horror separated them.
This Tuesday, people throw fuel on a fire in front of the National Palace.SILVANA FLORES
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