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Ayotzinapa: 3 years without relief

March in Mexico City including the family members of the disappeared 43 students. (Picture published on El Debate’s website on 09/26/2016)

Today, September 26th, 2017, marks the third anniversary of the forced disappearance of 43 students of Ayotzinapa, at the hands of the Mexican State.

Today, September 26th, 2017, marks the third anniversary of the death of 3 students and 3 civilians and at least 29 people injured during the attacks, at the hands of the Mexican State.

Today, September 26th, 2017, marks the third anniversary of the beginning of dozens of brutal tortures that led to forced confessions, at the hands of the Mexican State.

Today, September 26th, 2017, marks the third anniversary of 3 years without relief for the families of the 43 disappeared students of Ayotzinapa.

Although the family members of the 43 disappeared students to this day have not been told where their loved ones are, they, as well as much of civil society know that without a doubt “Fue el Estado! (It was the State!)” Although the Mexican government at the state and federal levels has tried desperately to cover up that truth, independent reviews such as those of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) as well as journalistic investigationssuch as those of Anabel Hernández have brought us closer to the truth.

Some of the key points, as told by Anabel Hernández in her book, La verdadera noche de Iguala, are as follows:

The federal government knew what was happening the moment the students arrived at Iguala around 7:30 pm until 11 to 12 pm when the students were most intensely attacked and when the forced disappearances of the 43 occurred.The federal government, municipal federal police, the federal police as well as the military (specifically members of the 27th battalion) participated in the attacks against the students.2 of the buses the students had taken to use as transportation for their political activities were filled with about 2 million dollars worth of heroin, which the students did not know at the time; the military tracked the movement of those buses since they were taken and participated in their recovery because they were working for a drug cartel.After shooting at the buses, the military was able to get the students off the buses and extract the heroin, but they noticed that some of the students figured out what was going on and the decision was made to forcefully disappear them, so as not to have witnesses.President Enrique Peña Nieto knew that state police and the military participated during that night and he as well as other members of the federal and state government participated in a cover up, which included evidence planting and destruction, as well as producing forced confessions of innocent people through torture. It is still unknown where the 43 disappeared students are, but at the end of her book she writes that there are witnesses who saw them being transported in three distinct locations.

When asked at a book conference recently in Oaxaca how she keeps herself safe, considering what she’s has uncovered over the span of her career, Anabel Hernández stated that anyone in Mexico could be one of the 43 and that no one is safe. It is the terrifying daily reality for many in Mexico. Despite horror about this situation, this fear has kept more people from joining the parents of the 43 in their protests and in denouncing  the more than 30,000 disappearances and 200,000 extrajudicial killings since 2007. It is important to note that there are many other massacres that continue to remain under State impunity, and although not discussed here, they are just as important. The Tlatlaya massacre, the Acteal Massacre, the “dirty war” in Guerrero in the 70s and 80s, the murders in Nochixtlan in 2016, to name a few.


Matt Weuker

Why do folks in the US need to care about this?

Often, writing from the US and worldwide describes “underdeveloped” Mexico as a gruesome blood bath whose “poor” citizens are being massacred. This implies that the US is not also a bloodbath,  it produces pity, and it ignores the negative role of US foreign policy in Mexico and throughout Latin America. First, the dozens of police shootings of people of color, the prison system, and the immigration detention system, point to the legalized violence against people in the States, disproportionately those of color. Second, the people of Mexico don’t need our pity. And third, it is imperative that we understand the role the US shares in all of this.


Mike Keefe

So, what is the role of US policy in Mexico in cases such as Ayotzinapa?

The Merida Initiative has provided 2.5 billion dollars in aid to the Mexican government and specifically the militarization of the country by providing arms and training to the armed forces and police. The events of Ayotzinapa are a direct consequence of that militarization. With all of its security and technological apparatus worldwide, it is hard to believe that the US would not know and does not know that the governments, the police and the armed forces in Mexico have ties to organized crime. Additionally, drug addiction is a public health issue but has decade after decade continued to be criminalized. While the demand for drugs in the US remains, the supply and all of its consequences will remain in Mexico. Also, we must remember that the complex state and organized crime web does not end at the US-Mexico border; something that is never touched on in the US media is the corruption and collusion that are also rampant in the US for the drugs to get from the border to every inch of US territory. Often times corruption and violence are depicted as almost innate “Mexico problems,” when in actuality this most certainly crosses borders as well.

What can I do?

1.Contact your representative* and demand a review of U.S. assistance and investigation of human rights abuses in Mexico, which U.S. security aid has played a major role in.

*Please use this directory to find your representative (if needed) by Zip Code, or by name, and use the Member Search function to find your representative by their last name (directory URL: In the entry for your representative in this directory, you’ll find their contact information to call them, in the “Contact” tab, as well as the name of their Foreign Policy LA (Legislative Aide), under the “Staff” tab (or you can just ask to speak to the representative’s Foreign Policy Legislative Aide).

This blog post was written by a WFP staff member.


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