Brutal murder of three film students in Mexico sparks outrage

Estudiantes disueltos en ácido

Photo of protestors carrying a sign #NoSonTresSomosTodxs (“It's not three, it's all of us) at a march on April 24, 2018, in Mexico City, shared widely on the public Twitter profile of activist Emilio Álvarez Icaza.

On April 23, 2018, news broke that three film students studying in the state of Jalisco, Mexico have been confirmed dead. Local authorities revealed that the students were allegedly murdered by members of organized crime who dissolved their bodies in acid in an attempt to hide evidence of their crime.

The students had been missing since March, when members of the Universidad de Medios Audiovisuales CAAV (University of Audio-Visual Media) community in Guadalajara, Jalisco, western Mexico, pronounced that filmmaking students Salomón Aceves, Marco Ávalos and Daniel Díaz had disappeared.

Journalist Zorayda Gallegos with El País gave an account of what happened:

Salomón Aceves Gastélum, de 25 años y originario de Mexicali (Baja California); Daniel Díaz, de 20 años y de Los Cabos (Baja California Sur), y Marco Ávalos de 20 años y de Tepic (Nayarit), vivían en la zona metropolitana de Guadalajara, donde estudiaban cine. Los tres desaparecieron el pasado lunes después de realizar una grabación en un domicilio de Tonalá, una localidad colindante con Guadalajara, donde realizaban una tarea escolar.

Salomón Aceves Gastélum, 25, originally from Mexicali (Baja California); Daniel Díaz, 20, from Los Cabos (Baja California Sur), and Marco Ávalos, 20, from Tepic (Nayarit), lived in the metropolitan area of Guadalajara where they studied film.  The three disappeared last Monday after making a recording at a home in Tonalá, a town adjacent to Guadalajara, where they performed a school assignment.

According to a chronology published by the Mexican daily Milenio, a group of “heavily armed men” who presented themselves as members of a police force approached the students in the vicinity of the residential development Colinas de Tonalá and kidnapped them.

The BBC reports that the students were possibly kidnapped because they were mistaken for members of another criminal organization who control of the area.

Since 2006, Mexico has been engaged in an ongoing internal armed conflict sometimes referred to as ‘the war without a name’ waged by highly organized criminal groups.

According to Milenio, the students were taken to a house where Salomón Aceves died while being tortured. Subsequently, his companions were also killed and all three were transferred to a second location where, according to authorities, their bodies were dissolved in sulfuric acid.

Amidst grief and outrage, protests erupt online and in the capital

Netizens immediately took to social media to express sorrow, disgust, and indignation. Many used the hashtag #NosSonTresSomosTodxs, translated from Spanish to English meaning “It's not three, it's all of us.”

Journalist and academic Gabriela Warkentin pronounced:

Murdered and dissolved in acid, this is how the three film students kidnapped in Jalisco show up.

That is the Mexico that we have to talk about every day.

All the fucking days.


Twitter user Montserrat shared images of executed students’ faces:

Here they are.  They are three of us.  Film students.

Dissolved in acid.


Twitter user Camilo Saavedra lamented:

Total outrage today in Jalisco and Mexico, today they confirm the unfortunate news that was approaching after so much burden, three innocent students killed by the hands of organized crime. Today Mexicans are fed the fuck up of so much violence! #NoSonTresSomosTodxs

Vianey tweeted her sadness with the following message:

How sad that being a student in this country causes death, what pain and helplessness to know that any of us can end up dissolved in acid by being at a place and at the wrong time #NoSonTresSomosTodxs all my good energy for their families.

Vianey's message refers to the Ayotzinapa Case of 43 students who were victims of a forced disappearance in Iguala, Guerrero, in September 2014.

Luis Antonio García expressed dismay over the suggestion recently made by presidential candidate Andrés M. López Obrador to offer amnesty to perpetrators to reduce violence in Mexico:

The confirmation of the students murdered in Jalisco is a shame. As a country we must demand justice. There is no justification for these crimes, nor are they explained by the social environment. Never impunity, never amnesty to their assassins. Justice!

On the afternoon of April 24, thousands of young people took to the streets of Mexico City to demonstrate against widespread violence in the country. On Twitter, the #NoSomosTresSomosTodxs hashtag started trending as a tool used by citizens to demand justice and security from the State.

Activists expect more citizen mobilizations aimed at addressing authorities blamed for causing insecurity and violence across the nation.

Acid: a brutal technique that haunts Mexico

The use of acid and other powerful corrosive chemical agents for the purpose of dissolving corpses is not new in Mexico. Santiago Meza López, better known as ‘El Pozolero,’ is perhaps the most notorious criminal condemned for using this brutal method. Various reports calculate that El Pozolero allegedly dissolved more than 300 human bodies belonging to those whose names are related to the ongoing internal armed conflict in Mexico.

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