An independent commission has determined that the Mexican government has been, at best, mistaken in their account of what happened to the 43 students who went missing last year. They have possibly even been lying. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) announced on September 6 that Mexico’s claim of a drug cartel capturing and killing the students, then burning the bodies, was flawed.
Mexico’s government is well known as being corrupt, with bribery and collusion with cartels and paramilitary groups being the norm. However, most people thought the government would draw the line at assisting in covering up the disappearance of 43 students. Even worse is the possibility that the government was somehow involved. However, it is not hard to believe, given what we now know.
The students were traveling near Iguala, a city about two hours south of Mexico City, when they vanished mysteriously. The official story from the federal government and President Enrique Pena Nieto was that the students were likely thought to be a rival gang and kidnapped by one of the area’s cartels. Local police were also offered up as being possibly complicit as Nieto tried to make the story go away.
After the initial disappearance, protests erupted throughout the region as outrage gripped the population. People decried the corruption and violence rampant in the country, and it showed how far Mexico still has to go. The government, wanting this scrutiny to go away, ran a very hurried investigation that led to the official story–the one that was shown as false in the IACHR.
Hardly anybody believed the government’s official account as it had far too many holes. The physical evidence itself provided to the IACHR was enough to reject the story, and to date, only a partial remain of one of the 43 students’ bodies has been identified. It was found near the dump reported by police to have been the site where the students’ bodies were alleged to have been burned. However, the dump itself showed little sign that a fire of that type had occurred there.
Additionally, many of the police and gang leaders questioned during the federal investigation later made claims of torture, and their testimony could hardly be called reliable in the first place. Surveillance and communications equipment also showed signs of tampering, and evidence was left unguarded for days during the initial investigation. Other pieces of evidence–such as the bus the students were traveling in– wasn’t looked at for months after the incident. To say the investigation was problematic is something of an understatement.
To their credit, Nieto’s government is now saying they will reopen the investigation and seek out answers. The families of the missing students remain skeptical however, and rightfully so. After all, the callousness and corruption of the government has done nothing but lie to them and try to get them to go away in the wake of one of Mexico’s worst crimes in recent years. Hopefully pressure from this report will help spur some real action this time around.