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:
Gente cercana a investigación confirman que los 43 normalistas desaparecidos están en las fosas encontradas en Iguala. #Ayotzinapa FerFam
— Fernanda Familiar (@qtf) October 4, 2014
People involved with the investigation confirm that the 43 student teachers are in the mass grave found in Iguala.
— Chatito (@El_Chateu) October 6, 2014
[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.
— Iliana RgzSantibáñez (@ilrodrig) October 6, 2014
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:
Qué tristeza lo que paso en #Ayotzinapa no me imagino el dolor de las familias de los normalistas.
— pearl celis (@pearlcelis) October 6, 2014
It's so sad what happened in Ayotzinapa, I can't imagine the pain in the families of the students.
— Fernando Alférez (@Alferez_Ags) October 6, 2014
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.
— CindyRevolución (@CindyRevolucion) October 6, 2014
They want to blame Chuky from “Guerreros Unidos” cartel, so Jose Luis Abarca and Angel Aguirre may remain unpunished.
— Vero A. Islas (@lovrega) October 6, 2014
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.
— epigmenio ibarra (@epigmenioibarra) October 6, 2014
Too much blood has been shed by organized crime and a corrupt regime. Enough with this pain.
— La Escribes Tú (@LaEscribesTu) October 5, 2014
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:
Lo más lamentable de #Ayotzinapa es la respuesta de la sociedad. Qué se dice y hace cuando calcinan vivos a 43 estudiantes…
— Monica Sesma (@monicasesma) October 6, 2014
What's most regrettable about Ayotzinapa is the response from society. What can be said and done when 43 students are scorched alive…
Matan niños de kinder y a futuros maestros, hace rato que este país esta profundamente descompuesto #TodosSomosAyotzinapa
— Ro (@rodmedinasan) October 5, 2014
Kindergarteners and future teachers are being killed, this country has been deeply rotten for a while. We all are Ayotzinapa.
— backpack (@backpack_tv) October 6, 2014
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:
— 132Global (@Global132) October 5, 2014
FOR HOW LONG WE WILL HAVE TO SEE THESE THINGS? Everybody to the National March on October 8 in your town.