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Sunday, November 09, 2014

Mexico: Struggle builds for the 43 disappeared Ayotzinapa students

From  A World to Win News Service:
In Mexico, the second "Stop the war on the people – national week of resistance" ended 26 October with a march through poor and working class neighbourhoods in towns near the capital. A major focus of the week's activities – and the country's brewing political crisis – was the police kidnapping of 43 Ayotzinapa teachers' college students in Iquala 26 September, when police and civilians also shot and killed six people.

The week began with a forum at the national university (UNAM) spotlighting the federal government's role in this crime, the murders of Central American immigrants passing through Mexico and the "femincides", the monstrous wave of women being killed or disappeared in the northern border state of Juarez.

Activities also included a film showing about the struggle for the right to abortion, a rally against violence against women and a reading of a monologue about the roles patriarchal society imposes on them, a memorial to a UNAM political activist murdered three years ago, and an evening of rap and hip-hop "to denounce the government and the capitalist system, and call for resistance and for people to raise their head to continue struggling and advance toward the revolutionary change humanity needs."
The National Resistance Network in Mexico sent a solidarity message to the "Month of resistance to police brutality, repression and the criminalization of a generation" in the United States.

A broad and expanding spectrum of people is propelling the movement to demand that the students be brought back alive, or their fate explained. For portraits of the 43 and other visual statements by dozens of artists, see  http:/

The following is a slightly abridged article, "14 crimes and lies by the federal government in the Ayotzinapa case",  from Aurora Roja, blog of the Revolutionary Communist Organization (OCR) of Mexico. (, in Spanish)

The facts demonstrate that the federal government headed by President Enrique Peña Nieto and the armed forces cooperated with the massacre of six people in Iguala and the disappearance of the 43 students from the Ayotzinapa teachers' college; and since then they have been lying and covering up the facts about this brutal crime. At times they have gone so far as to try, absurdly, to implicate these students in organized crime activities, even though students have had to beg for money just to be able to pay their school expenses. No matter what, the authorities insist, the responsibility for what happened lies purely with the Iguala mayor, whom they helped conveniently drop out of sight. What are the facts?

1. The army openly cooperated with the massacre: The 27th infantry battalion never tried to stop the shooting and hunting down of the students during the night of 26 September in Iguala, even though that was their legal duty. They let the shooting go on for over an hour, and two or more students were kidnapped from almost in front of their barracks. When the army ventured out onto the streets three hours later, after a second attack in which two more students were killed, it was to harass the victims of this crime. They approached a group of students who were carrying their classmate Edgar Andres Vargas, critically wounded in the mouth, to a private clinic. "They showed up with their guns locked and loaded, roughing us up, confiscating our mobiles and cursing at us. They searched all three floors of the hospital... and wouldn't let the on-duty doctor take care of Edgar. The bastards kept saying, "You're going to have to deal with real men now. Don't bawl!" The student almost died because they wouldn't let him get medical treatment. And they snapped at the students, "You asked for it," clearly justifying the massacre. When they demanded that the students give their names, the soldiers threatened that they had better give their real names or no one was going be able to find them, threatening to make them disappear, as had happened to their classmates." (Sources: interview by Blanche Petrich, La Jornada online, 11 October 2014; Guadalupe Lizzaraga, Los Angeles Press online, 30 September 2014. Eyewitness account of a student on the Carmen Aristegui show, 30 October 2014)

2. Possible participation of federal agents in covering up the attacks: Who were the "armed men in civilian clothings" who shot at the students during the two attacks in Iquala, in one instance when they killed three students and wounded more than 20 more, and the other on the Santa Teresa roadway, leading to the death of a young football player, the team's bus driver and a woman going by in a taxi? It's possible that they were not just local police and a few drug-gang gunmen as the government claimed. Their appearance and behaviour are consistent with that of the Federal Police when they carry out "undercover" operations, like the attack that killed 35 people in Veracruz when a Marine death squad pretended to be from the Jalisco drug cartel. On many occasions when the Mexican state's forces have murdered, tortured and disappeared activists and other innocent people, the state has presented these attacks as the work of "organized crime". It is also well known that the state uses its narcotics police to eliminate any kind of political opposition, as was the case with the murder of two polling place observers for the National Democratic Front during the 1988 presidential elections. (Sources: articles in various newspapers on 27 and 28 September 2014; Proceso, no. 1821; Anabel Hernández, Los senores del narco, p. 195)

3. The federal and state government knew about the massacre from the start but they let it continue:Another fact that suggests the possible participation of federal and/or state agents in the massacre is that the state police and army confronted these same students in Chilpancingo a few hours before the Iguala attack, stopping the youth from commandeering buses there, and knowing that they were heading to Iguala. Isn't it probable that they at least informed their colleagues in Iguala to harass the students there? In any case, then then Guerrero state governor Angel Aguirre admitted that he knew about the attack in Iguala right away, as did the federal attorney general and the army (which obviously knew about it through the 27th infantry battalion stationed there). They all decided not to intervene and let the attacks continue. (Sources: La Jornada print edition, 26 October 2014, p. 6; "Carta abierta desde el extranjero", #AyotzinapaSomosTodos)

4. They deliberately let mayor Jose Luis Abarca escape: The state and federal authorities made sure that the people they accuse of being behind this crime had plenty of time to escape. No arrest warrants were issued for the mayor, his wife and the chief of police until 26 days after the crime. Isn't that because the higher authorities were afraid of being implicated by these heartless criminals? (Sources: press conference by federal prosecutor Jesus Murillo Karam, 22 October 2014, Boletin, 198/14

5. The federal government refuses to recognize this case as one of forced disappearance: the representative of the UN Human Rights Commission declared that the three elements constituting a case of forced disappearance has been established within 72 hours, legally obligating the federal government to intervene. He also recommended an "investigation of why the army and state police did not defend these youth, since the 27th infantry battalion was in the Iguala city centre at that moment, and the state government of Angel Aguirre knew about the attack in real time." Obviously they didn't want an investigation, for fear of what it might bring to light. (Source: La Jornada online, 21 October 2014)

6. The government is indulgent toward murderer police: Even though the government acknowledges that the municipal police shot at the students and carried off the disappeared in patrol cars, the arrested officers have not been accused of homicide or forced disappearance, just organized delinquency and "illegal deprivation of liberty". (Source: La Jornada, print edition, 24 October 2014, p. 4)

7. They have tried to sabotage the investigations:  Federal and state forensic experts deliberately violated international protocols for exhuming bodies. The UN Human Rights Commission representative declared that the lack of respect for international protocols would make it difficult or impossible to obtain reliable DNA evidence (from the bodies dug up in the first few weeks).  Members of human rights organizations criticized the fact that the site had not been protected and that neither the site nor the remains had been properly photographed. The bodies remained in plastic bags without refrigeration for a long time, and their identification numbers had been poorly placed, making it harder to determine where they were found. (Source: La Jornada online, 21 October 2014, and print edition, 6 October, p. 3)

8. The work of the forensic anthropology investigation team from Argentina was obstructed, so that they were not able to take part in the exhumation of the corpses. The Public Ministry official in charge of the appropriate Guerrero state body refused to grant them accreditation and the local Public Ministry refused to sign off on the custody chain for the DNA samples taken by the Argentine team and family members. (Source: Blanche Petrich, La Jornada online, 11 October 2014, p. 3)

9. The federal prosecutor's office has repeatedly changed its story with no explanation. On 5 October it was announced that six clandestine mass graves had been found (although later they said five), thanks to the confessions of four people who were arrested, and that 28 bodies had been found in them. The government strongly implied that these were the bodies of the disappeared students. Then, on 9 October, federal prosecutor Murillo Karam announced in a press conference that the arrest of another four people the day before had led to the finding of another four mass graves "presumably containing the remains of another 15 students." Apparently, the prosecutor's "presumption" that the rest of the students would be found in this second group of graves was based on nothing more than subtracting 28 from the total of 43 disappeared to come up with 15. Then, on 14 October, the prosecutor announced that none of the 28 bodies dug up in the first five clandestine mass graves was consistent with "the DNA that the families of these young people have given us" (although the Argentine team had not yet announced its conclusions on that subject), and that in the second group of graves "no bodies were found."  He didn't give the slightest explanation for why the so-called testimony of various presumed witnesses, which he had made such a big deal about, turned out to be false in his new version of events. Nor did he express the slightest interest in finding out the identities of the people whose bodies were found burned and buried, or who committed these horrible crimes.

Now, once again, we are told that two newly arrested people provided key clues so that a search for clandestine mass graves can be carried out in another area, and at the same time that the investigation is being "reoriented" to "find them alive". They are making a big show with drones, search teams and rewards – and so far, they have come up with nothing. The only thing clear in all of this is that the federal government is more interested in covering up the facts than in investigating them. (Sources:  La Jornada, print edition, 10 October and 15 October 2014, p. 3; Proceso online, 14 October 2014, article by Marcela Turati)

10. The government has impeded a serious investigation of the disappeared: The federal and state government have not checked the location data for the mobiles of the disappeared students, although the parents have insisted that they should. Repeatedly the army or federal police have blocked the efforts of the Union of Guerrero Peoples and Organizations (UPOEG), forbidding them to look for more mass graves or investigate those they have found. On 23 October the lawyer for the UPOEG leadership announced that they had found "26 probable mass grave sites" in the area around Monte Horeb, in Iguala township, and that in six of these sites they had found "remains of bones, hair and backpacks." The lawyer also revealed that UPOEG members had received threatening phone calls demanding that they give up the search. A day later, experts working for the federal prosecutor's office replied that the area had already been investigated and human remains exhumed the previous week, but the UPOEG insisted that they had found "freshly buried flesh" and that the area reeked of "a  foul odour", an unbearable stench of recently dumped corpses", and that "neighbours said that as late as a few nights ago they still heard moaning." (Sources:La Jornada, 24 October, print edition, p. 7; and 25 October, p. 3)

11. A "sea of secret mass graves" and the story of other people disappeared by the army:  As a leader of the Iguala Front for Dignity and Respect for Life (FIDRV) says, "Iguala is a city surrounded by a sea of secret mass graves." The state and federal authorities knew about generalized massacres long before 26 September, and it was no surprise to "find" mass graves. Graves with 19 bodies were dug up last May, and since January 2014, 81 corpses have appeared, without counting the 28 exhumed 5 October, and doubtlessly there are many more.

The fact that the army is guilty of at least some of these previous murders was documented in a recent AP report regarding a 2010 incident when the army disappeared Francis García Orozco, 32, and Vladimir Lenin Pita, 17. Witnesses and a video document that the two were carried off by soldiers while transporting the sound system for a nightclub in a fairground. The two are still missing and the crime remains unpunished. (Sources: La Jornada, print edition, 23 October 2014, p. 5; “Hunt for 43 students highlights Mexico’s missing”, Associated Press online, 22 October 2014; Sanjuana Martinez, La Jornada online, 19 October 2014)

Further, millions of people are now aware that the army executed 21 youth who had surrendered to them in Tlatlaya, in the state of Mexico. There is no room for doubt – the armed forces are murdering many people in cold blood, especially lower-class youth and activists such as the Ayotzinapa students.

12. The federal government knew about mayor Abarca's previous crimes and covered them up: The federal government is also responsible for the murders and disappearances because it covered up the murder of Arturo Hernandez and two other comrades of the Iguala People's United Front (UPI) on 30 May 2013. Murillo Karam and Interior Minister Osorio Chong denied having any knowledge of these murders, but that's a crude lie. The case was widely exposed on the Web;  Arturo Hernandez's wife accused mayor Abarca of having committed these murders; and a kidnapping survivor testified that he saw Abarca personally kill Hernandez with a shot to the head and another in the chest. This eyewitness gave a sworn statement to a notary public in the Federal District and repeated it to a agency of the Public Ministry in March  2014. The Decade of Impunity Solidarity Network (RSDIAC), headed by Bishop Raul Vera Lopez, had been demanding that the attorney general open a case against Abarca for more than a year before the attack of the Ayotzinapa students in Iguala. The Attorney General's office told RSDIAC members that they "didn't want to take action against  the Iguala mayor because he had jurisdiction". And now they want to tell us that they never knew anything about this matter?!

Raul Vera said that the kidnapping of eight People's United Front members and the killing of three of them is a precedent that explains what happened to the Ayotzinapa students: "Here we have a situation in which clearly the priority is to cover up everything – Abarca kidnapped, tortured and murdered, and nothing happened. Now they're going after police, but we want an exposure of the bigshots who are responsible." (Source: Arturo Rodriguez Garcia, "El Estado se convirtio en una 'institucion criminal'",Proceso, 12 October 2014.

13. Excuses for the murderers, criminalization of the victims: Federal prosecutor Murillo Karam's 22 October press conference is an example of his defence of the Iguala authorities and police and the federal government's efforts to criminalize the students. He didn't take into consideration any of the testimony of the assaulted students; everything he said was based on the "testimony" of police, municipal civil servants, hired gunmen and the supposed leaders of the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel.

He lied when he said that the reason for the attack was "to keep the students from 'sabotaging' the party [hosted by the mayor's wife]." The first attack began when the students had already passed by the venue, without getting out of the buses or even stopping, and they were about to leave the city. Police vehicles blocked the road and didn't let them leave. Thus the prosecutor painted a brutal massacre almost as if it were an act of self-defence on the part of the local authorities. He also implied that the Guerreros Unidos were just defending their territory against "rival criminals". (Source: press conference by Murillo Karam, 22 October 2014, Boletin, 198/14)

14. The federal government continues assaulting and torturing people since the federal police took over public (in)security in Iguala, invading villages, beating and torturing many people, and carrying away many people they accused of ties with drug trafficking. (Sources: La Jornada, print edition, 25 October 2014, p. 3, and 29 October, p. 5.) 

In short, not just the Iguala municipal government and its police but also the state and federal governments and their police and armed forces are murderers, torturers and kidnappers – and totally illegitimate.

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