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With Ayotzinapa Attack, Have Violence and Corruption Reached a Tipping Point in Mexico?

In the secret graves, in the streets that saw them fall, in the steps of those who are searching for them, in the cries of those who are waiting for them...In Ayotzinapa and all of Mexico resounds an echo that shouts "JUSTICE." Photo tweeted by @LaEscribesTu

“In the secret graves, in the streets that saw them fall, in the steps of those who are searching for them, in the cries of those who are waiting for them…In Ayotzinapa and in all of Mexico resounds an echo that screams ‘JUSTICE.'” Photo tweeted by @LaEscribesTu

At least 28 bodies have been unearthed from a mass grave near Iguala, in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero. The bodies, which show clear signs of torture, were laid over branches and logs that were sprayed with fuel and set fire.

The victims appear to have been burned alive, a guard at the site told Spanish newspaper El Mundo. A total of 28 scorched bodies were exhumed so far, though some unconfirmed reports pointed to a higher number of 34. Some of the remains were complete, while others were in pieces.

The authorities are conducting a variety of forensic tests to conclude if the human remains belong to 43 education students from the community of Ayotzinapa who went missing on September 26, after their bus was shot at by police agents and members of organized crime. According to the authorities, the identification of the victims will take between 15 days and two months. Argentinian specialists are taking part in the process at the request of Ayotzinapa students.

Iñaky Blanco, the state of Guerrero's public prosecutor, claimed that “several of the police agents had links to organized crime, and in some cases were active drug trafficking hit men.” Later on during a press conference in Acapulco, he added that it was the “Director of Public Security of Iguala Francisco Salgado Valladares who gave the order to detain the student teachers from Ayotzinapa; and an individual known as ‘El Chuky’ from the criminal group Guerreros Unidos would have ordered the kidnap and murder of the young students.” The name United Warriors plays off the name of the state, Guerrero, which means warrior in Spanish.

The students, who were taking part in a protest against job discrimination against teachers from rural areas, were traveling in a bus when they were ambushed by police. Three of the students were killed at the scene, as well as a football player who was in another unrelated bus, a bus driver and a woman who was in a taxi. 

The Iguala city mayor, José Luis Abarca, left office right before the attack with the permission of the governor. No one seems to know the whereabouts of Abarca nor Salgado Valladares, who allegedly gave the order for the attack.

Even though the bodies haven't been identified yet, there are many venturing to guess that they belong to the missing students. If true, it would come as a great blow to the government, as it would mean that it is directly involved in the killing of unarmed civilians through its municipal police force:

People involved with the investigation confirm that the 43 student teachers are in the mass grave found in Iguala.

[Mexican President] Enrique Peña Nieto's administration will carry the stain of the massacres of Tlatlaya and Ayotzinapa, events that outrage and ignite terror and violence.

Ayotzinapa has come to light due to the impact the news has had on the international landscape. Enrique Peña Nieto's administration is under scrutiny as a potential human rights violator.

The Mexican cyberspace began buzzing with the news as soon as it broke, with Twitter users offering up condolences and calling on others to challenge the government:

It's so sad what happened in Ayotzinapa, I can't imagine the pain in the families of the students.

As a result of Aguas Blancas massacre, Angel Aguirre [who currently holds the position of governor of Guerrero], became head of the state government in 1995, and as a result of the Ayotzinapa massacre, he should beat it.

It's worth mentioning that in 1996, the then governor of Guerrero, Rubén Figueroa Alcocer, asked for a permission to be excused from office as a consequence of Aguas Blancas massacre. That same day, the State Congress of Guerrero appointed him as substitute Governor until the end of the constitutional term in 1999.

They want to blame Chuky from “Guerreros Unidos” cartel, so Jose Luis Abarca and Angel Aguirre may remain unpunished.

To put the blame on the drug trafficking for the murder of the student teachers from Ayotzinapa is a script written by the government to exonerate Angel Aguirre.

Too much blood has been shed by organized crime and a corrupt regime. Enough with this pain.

In Ayotzinapa and all over Mexico resounds an echo clamoring for justice.

Some users have commented pessimistically on the state of violence into which the country has sunk:

What's most regrettable about Ayotzinapa is the response from society. What can be said and done when 43 students are scorched alive…

Kindergarteners and future teachers are being killed, this country has been deeply rotten for a while. We all are Ayotzinapa.

In Ayotzinapa, 28 bodies were found in a mass grave. Whether or not they are the students, Mexico is screwed.

There were also calls for a national march to support the Ayotzinapa students and their families and to condemn the institutionalized violence in Mexico:

FOR HOW LONG WE WILL HAVE TO SEE THESE THINGS? Everybody to the National March on October 8 in your town.

To read about more reactions and news, follow the hastags #Ayotzinapa, #AyotzinapaNoSeOlvida (We don't forget Ayotzinapa) and #JusticiaParaAyotzinapa (Justice for Ayotzinapa).

  • zihuarob

    Ángel Aguirre was not the governor of Guerrero during the massacre of campesinos at Aguas Blancas in 1995. The governor at that time was Rubén Figueroa Alcocer who was forced to resign as a result of the massacre he allegedly ordered but was never correctly prosecuted for, and Ángel Aguirre Rivera was named as the interim governor at that time.

    What happened in Iguala was the result of the governor and the politicians and authorities of Guerrero not doing their jobs. While much of the country has moved forward and progressed, professionalizing their police forces and punishing corrupt authorities, the governor of Guerrero has done exactly the opposite. Our governor, local congress and municipal authorities are among the most corrupt in the nation. They have allowed the criminals to take over and accepted their money as well as robbing much of the public money budgeted for public works, disaster relief, health care, education, tourism promotion, culture, etc. Hopefully the federal government will assume control of public security in Guerrero until professionally trained and vetted police forces can be put in place.

    • Hello!

      Thank you for commenting on the post and for explaining that Angel Aguirre Rivera was not governor during Aguas Blancas. I think that user @Alferez_Ags meant exactly that when he tweeted about, so it’s good to make the point.
      I agree that Guerrero’s government is growing apart from the people and closer to the drug lords. I don’t know, however, if the federal government taking control of the public security in the state is a long term solution considering that once there’s a professionally trained police in Guerrero, they will also need a local leadership that makes sure they always have the people’s interests (not the mafia’s) at heart.
      Best,

      • zihuarob

        Guerrero, like all of Mexico, still needs institutional changes to undo much of the damage that the 72 years of PRI monopoly rule created by making the prosecution of corruption and criminal activities nearly impossible and by hamstringing judicial authority. But in Guerrero as in most of Mexico we recognize many of our problems, which of course is the first step to being able to resolve them. Unfortunately the political process still favors a lack of transparency, cronyism and a lack of answerability to the electorate. So our task is still monumental. But many citizens of Guerrero are hoping that Aguirre will have to resign and that there will be consequences for his acts of omission and outright complicity in allowing organized criminals to essentially take over vast regions and most municipal governments in the state. The people of the state of Guerrero are known for their warmth and goodness and decency, but Guerrero is also one of the states that fought the hardest for independence from Spain before it was actually named for the patriot Vicente Guerrero.

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  • Frank Alex Brauer

    As long corruption and violence is tolerated by their own government, Mexico will not be recognized as anything more as a troubled and unstable third class country as to which will continue to wallow in poverty and fear. To the Mexican government: Do what it takes to clean house once and for all! Legalize marijuana and tax it. This will then cease to be profitable for the drug lords.

    • Dude

      “This will then cease to be profitable for the drug lords.” Yes, it won’t be much profit for them, but marijuana is not the only drug… Also, they will keep with the violent kidnappings and such. They won’t stop and submit applications to real jobs. They need to be put down.

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