June 3, 2015, marked 250 days since one of the most tragic episodes in Mexico's modern history: the disappearance and murder in Iguala of 43 students form the Rural Teaching School Raúl Isidro Burgos in Ayotzinapa, in the state of Guerrero.
La desaparición y matanza de estudiantes normalistas en Iguala, Guerrero, es un crimen de Estado, cometido en un país donde la tortura, las desapariciones y las muertes violentas se han convertido en hechos cotidianos. Están ya confirmados el asesinato de tres estudiantes y cuatro ciudadanos y la desaparición forzada de cuarenta y tres estudiantes de la Escuela Normal Rural de Ayotzinapa.
Las víctimas son jóvenes estudiantes que, en el contexto de privaciones y pobreza de sus propias familias, luchan por la defensa de la educación pública en medio de las difíciles condiciones de las Escuelas Normales Rurales, objeto de acoso estatal y federal durante décadas.
The disappearance and murder of the students in Iguala, Guerrero, is a state crime committed in a country where torture, forced disappearances, and violent deaths have become common. The assassination of three students and four citizens has already been confirmed as well as the forced disappearances of 43 students of the Rural Teaching School of Ayotzinapa.
The victims were young students who, in the context of poverty and hardship in their own families, struggled to defend public education in extreme conditions at the Rural Teaching Schools. The state and federal governments harassed these people for decades.
The NGO Ciudadanos en Apoyo a los Derechos Humanos (Citizens Supporting Human Rights) has echoed accusations that state officials played a role in the Ayotzinapa tragedy:
En dichos actos participaron tanto policías municipales de Iguala, Guerrero en coordinación personas vestidas de civil, ante la total “ausencia, pasividad y tolerancia”, de las fuerzas federales, la gendarmería, y las fuerzas armadas cuya presencia es notoria en el estado de Guerrero, ante la vigencia del operativo “Guerrero Seguro”.
Both local police from Iguala, Guerrero, and civilian-dressed persons participated in the events, amidst a total “absence, inaction and tolerance” of the federal forces, prison officers, and armed forces whose presence is notorious in the state of Guerrero given the operation “Safe Guerrero”.
The investigations carried out by the Attorney General's office on November 2014 led to the arrest of Iguala's mayor and his wife, José Luis Abarca and María de los Ángeles Pineda, better known as the “Imperial Couple” because of their lavish lifestyle. The two were charged with ordering the murders, but the criminal process regarding the murderers specifically has stalled there. That said, the couple have been charged with other offenses, including participating in organized crime.
During the investigation, the Argentine forensic anthropology team has played a key role in the examination of burnt remains discovered in a dumpster near Iguala.
Jesús Murillo Karam, who led the Attorney General's office and its investigation, was replaced by former Congresswoman Arely Gómez, who's been criticized as having too little experience in criminal matters, albeit a strong background in political history. After taking the position, Gómez said:
Estoy convencida que la investigación que se realizó por el exprocurador Murillo Karam fue una investigación profunda, seria y exhaustiva. Esto lo realizaron varias personas de la Procuraduría General de la República con un alto nivel.
I am convinced that the investigation carried out by former Attorney General Murillo Karam was thorough, serious, and exhaustive. It was performed by several highly regarded members of the Attorney General's office.
There are still regular protests and sit-ins to remember the terrible events in Iguala. On May 26, the “Global Action for Ayotzinapa” gathering took place in Mexico City, and several family members of the disappeared attended.
On Twitter, Enrique D. commented:
La memoria florece sembrando semillas de libertad. México no puede olvidar, dadle de beber de la fuente de la memoria. #Ayotzinapa8meses
— Enrique D. (@kikesma) May 27, 2015
The memory blooms sowing seeds of freedom. Mexico cannot forget—make it drink from the fountain of memory.
Last Sunday, Mexicans went to the polls in the mid-term elections to vote for local and state leaders. For some, this was the greatest opportunity to express their discontent with the current administrations.
User Compa Elephanthorn wrote:
“Si votas por el PRI recuerda que los próximos desaparecidos pueden ser tus hijos o algún ser querido.” #Ayotzinapa8meses
— -COMPA ELEPHANTHORN- (@elephanthorn) June 1, 2015
If you vote for the PRI [Institutional Revolutionary Party], remember that the next people to disappear could be your sons or any loved one.
(President Enrique Peña belongs to the PRI, and the new Attorney General Gómez campaigned on the party's ticket when she ran for senator.)
It was the PRI candidate, Esteban Albarrán, who became the new mayor of Iguala in last weekend's election, unseating the Party of the Democratic Revolution, whose members include the city's former mayor (now in prison) and the former governor of Guerrero, who was ousted after the Ayotzinapa tragedy.
Epigmenio Ibarra, with more than 229,000 followers on Twitter, leads a daily roll call of all the names of the disappeared students. Ibarra includes political messages with these tweets.
— epigmenio ibarra (@epigmenioibarra) June 2, 2015
1 Abel. Together for Justice and Truth to Ayotzinapa. Together for Justice to ABC. We don't forget and we don't forgive. It was the State.