Ayotzinapa, on the edge of the abyss

Demo in Mexico City’s Zócalo: “It was the State!”

By: Luis Hernández Navarro

Three events overlap in the Ayotzinapa Massacre. The central one is the savage aggression against students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers College by organized crime, the military and police. The second one consists of the decision of state agents at different levels to not intervene to prevent the crime from being consummated, despite having real-time information about what was happening. Finally, we have the state maneuver of hiding the true dynamics of the extrajudicial executions and forced disappearances, and the fabrication of a version of the facts, obviously false.

El recent report of the Commission for Truth and Access to Justice for the Ayotzinapa case (https://bit.ly/3wmYqhP) has big and important gaps. It does not specify, for example, something as important as where the remains of the 40 disappeared students (three were already identified). Nor why those responsible for security did nothing to prevent the barbarity. Even less does it explain what led the federal government to invent the monstrosity of the “historical truth.” Its reading allows us to intuit many hypotheses, but these are not explicitly enunciated.

An additional bad sign is that the prosecution of Murillo Karam was not done by the Ayotzinapa case unit, but rather by the Seido. [1] The recrimination of prosecutors by the judge at the former prosecutor’s hearing, for “not being prepared” for the indictment procedure, is a terrible message. Nor does the GIEI’s statement look good, that “we didn’t know, nor have we directly accessed and examined the material from which the screenshots that appear starting on page 38 emerged. Nor have we accessed the expert reports carried out on them.”

In spite of this, it would seem that the report is a step forward in clarifying the facts and opening a door for judging and punishing those responsible for the massacre and its coverup. Admitting that we’r’e dealing with a State crime is a relevant event, whose medium-term consequences are unforeseeable.

It’s false that the report has no new information and that everything it points out was previously known. It’s even more of a lie that its content is the same as the “historical truth.” The only ones who are interested in spreading these rumors are those who elaborated, defended and benefited from the lies of the official Peña discourse.

One example among many. The “historical truth” concealed, against all available evidence and testimonies, the existence of the famous fifth bus, in which heroin or money was being transported. On the other hand, the new document confirms the movement of the EcoTer bus without being stopped, freeing 16 checkpoints on the perimeter of Iguala at all its exits. Who, if not the Army, was capable of facilitating an operation of that magnitude?

Ayotzi was the State #43.

Beyond gaps and limitations, the document of the Truth Commission provides important data on the attack against the students and the government maneuver to obscure it.

But, in addition, where before there were loose pieces or a few assembled pieces, today there is a puzzle that, without being completely solved, groups its pieces with meaning. There is a narrative based on solid evidence, not extracted by torture, which seems to open the door to find out what happened and punish (some) culprits.

The report points out, over and over again, the responsibility of soldiers and sailors in the State crime. It confirms that military commanders in the region did not carry out, as they were obliged to do, actions for the protection and search for the soldier Julio César López Patolzin, one of those infiltrated by the Army among the students, in a clearly counterinsurgent action. Tracking him down could have helped to find some of the students alive. It’s not a saying. Four days after the night in Iguala, six students were alive, kidnapped in a warehouse in Pueblo Viejo (Old Town).

The document shows the presence of the narco-state in the region, and the role of the Army in it. “There was –the report points out– an evident collusion of agents of the Mexican State with the Guerreros Unidos criminal group that tolerated, permitted and participated in the acts of violence and disappearance of the students, as well as in the government’s attempt to deny the truth about the events.”

The Army knew in real time what happened and not only did nothing to prevent it, but many things could not have happened without their direct intervention. In a conversation between El Chino –visible leader of the criminal group– and a high-ranking military officer identified as El Coronel, the latter ordered that: “soldiers remove the remains from Iguala,” and added: “They took most of them to the battalion” (https://bit.ly/3AfWdpm).

Above all considerations, if anything made it possible for the “historical truth” to collapse, for the truth about the night in Iguala to begin to be known and a window would seem to be open for justice to appear, it is the heroic, selfless and unyielding struggle of the parents of the 43 Ayotzinapa students. Without their unyielding will to get to the bottom of the matter, without their tireless decision to find their children, without their wise distrust of official siren songs, without their determination to mobilize every day so that oblivion does not defeat memory, very little would have been achieved.

Beyond these initial reflections on the edge of the abyss, to evaluate the scope of the Truth Commission report in depth, it’s necessary to wait for the parents to announce their opinion on it. Their moral authority is indisputable. No one better than them to weigh in on the document’s genuine transcendence. This Thursday we will know it.

[1] Seido – the initials for the office of the Special Prosecutor for Investigation of Organized Crime.

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Tuesday, August 23, 2022, https://www.jornada.com.mx/2022/08/23/opinion/018a1pol and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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