IT’S NOT THE GARBAGE DUMP OR THE FIFTH BUS; IT’S THE C-4
By: Rafael Landerreche*
Although the communications media has taken it up a lot, the most important part of the GIEI’s Ayotzinapa Report is not that which refutes the official version about the Cocula garbage dump, or the pointing out of the now famous fifth bus as the possible key for explaining what happened. The key remains in obscurity or even in ambiguity as long as it is not addressed in conjunction with what is really the most important key of the report.
What’s most important is not such and so concrete detail, but rather the big picture. The CIDH’s experts invite and give us elements for grasping the magnitude of the operation, of its duration and, last but not least important, of its complexity: 43 disappeared, six dead and one student brutally tortured and executed are already per se something extremely atrocious. But the GIEI reminds us that it was not all; that there are also 40 injured, dozens more students and citizens in general that survived the attack, despite the fact that they were ambushed, pursued, beaten and subjected to indiscriminate gunfire throughout the three hours that the acts of violence lasted, besides the terror induced in the population as a whole. In other words, the fact that we don’t have at least a hundred deaths to lament instead of those 43 disappeared and six dead was not for a lack of desire of the perpetrators.
Once the foregoing is weighed, felt and closely examined, we are prepared to understand the GIEI’s premises that are the cornerstone of its entire report: 1) As to the motive for the crime: although the taking (commandeering) of buses by the Ayotzinapa students is already part of the region’s uses and customs, they had never been confronted with a “coordinated and massive”** operation of such magnitude. This unusual response requires an explanation: “All that supposes that the action of the perpetrators was motivated by what was considered an action carried out by the students against high level interests.” 2) As to the modus operandi: the “coordinated and massive” character of the actions necessarily implies “a command structure, with operational coordination.” That’s the other key; without it, neither the entirety of the report nor the importance of the fifth bus that could have transported drugs is understood.
We remember that in the events of September 26, 2014 the municipal police not only of Iguala, but also of two other municipalities, the ministerial police, the Federal Police and the Army, –according to the very same official version– as well as Guerreros Unidos gunmen in coordination with the Iguala municipal police (that were coordinated with all the others), participated directly or at least “were present.” Who was coordinating all these instances or groups: José Luis Abarca and his wife? Let’s set aside the science fiction and get to the facts. The GIEI mentions “a structure of coordination and communication,” the C-4, “in which representatives of the state police, Federal Police, municipal police and the Army are present.” But the experts are too scanty as to the nature of this entity. They merely say in passing that the signal comes from the Center for Control, Command, Communications and Computation, and beginning with what they say, the C-4 would seem to be a very inoffensive instance (and inoperative judging from the facts) that receives and channels the calls for aid and denunciation to emergency numbers 066 and 089. The GIEI does not claim that the C-4 had been the structure of command and coordination for the operation that the reality described by them demands. But we are able to go a little bit further, although we must take a certain turn for that.
The Bases of Mixed Operations (BOM, their initials in Spanish) were created during the term of Carlos Salinas. Their specific mission was to coordinate the actions of all public forces from the different levels of government and from the different branches and specialties, from the municipal police to the Army. The importance of this fact should not be overlooked. On the one hand, the doors to the institutionalizing of a historic turn would be opened: the Army, whose eternal destiny was to defend the homeland in the case of that foreign invasion, passed to pointing the roar of its canons not at the external enemy, but also at the internal enemy, at the end of the day the same people that gave a son to the Army to be a soldier; a historic turn we’re still not finished assimilating. On the other hand, the BOM were not a phenomenon exclusive to Mexico, they were rather the common seal of the Latin American neoliberal governments. Despite their rhetoric, those governments knew that they would only be able to maintain their economic model by force.
With the Zapatista insurgence in Chiapas and the counterinsurgency with which the government responded, we were able to see the BOM in action, but with an additional element that was not included in the public version, although it was included in Sedena’s manuals: what they called irregular forces, better known in Chiapas as paramilitary groups. What’s typical of these operations is that the direct action of killing subversives is left to the lowest levels of the hierarchy, while the highest are limited to planning, preparing and supervising the actions (or “being present” like in Ayotzinapa) that touch on the large war strategies. That’s what happened in the Acteal Massacre with the paramilitaries killing people, the state police accompanying them close by and the Army supervising at a distance after having planned and prepared everything. In the attacks on the autonomous Zapatista municipalities that happened after the Acteal Massacre until the Chavajeval Massacre in June of the following year, the mechanics changed a bit. As the paramilitaries were a dead letter after Acteal, direct attacks were assigned to the police, while the Army continued its role of accompanying the lower levels.
We are now prepared to understand the importance of the fifth bus: faced with the risk of losing a shipment of heroin, the whole apparatus of public force, from the Army to the municipal police and their new “irregular forces” (no longer paramilitaries, but rather the gunmen for organized crime) launched “a massive action with indiscriminate attacks, direct attempts on life, extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances,” in order to preserve their booty. It will perhaps be said that all this about the fifth bus is no more than a hypothesis. Well, if we reject it, what is the alternative? If the coordinated operation is not a hypothesis, is all that done because of counter-insurgency and/or sadism, a narcoterrorist or sadoterrorist State? Not much changes.
* Rafael Landerreche is a writer that collaborates with the Las Abejas education project in the Chiapas Highlands.
** Everything in quotation marks is from the GIEI report
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Translation: Chiapas Support Committee/Comité de Apoyo a Chiapas
Saturday, September 12, 2015