Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, Mexico: A Crime Against Humanity
Luis Hernández Navarro
La Jornada, 7th October, 2014
Translated by Sally Seward
They are young people, mostly the children of farming families, students in a rural normal school. That is why they were forcefully disappeared. They defend public education, the rural normal schools, the teaching to serve the most needy and the social transformation of Mexico. This is why they shot at them and kidnapped them.
The forced disappearance of the students from Ayotzinapa was a joint effort of the municipal police and hitmen working for the Guerreros Unidos cartel. There is no difference between one and the other. During the day the criminals work in a uniform; at night they do it dressed as civilians. In the criminal state that is ruling over vast parts of Guerrero, drug traffickers and police officers are two sides of the same coin.
They kidnapped and shot the young people from Ayotzinapa because they could. It was not at all hard for them to take away their lives or carry them off illegally. The current atmosphere in which the normal school students are demonized and in which there is general impunity and a criminal state made them think that nothing would happen to them; that they had the license to kill.
As it is, since before September 26 the rural normal school students have been demonized both in the region and the country. Tons of lies have been spread about them, without any need of proof. They have been spread by the state’s businesspeople, the business owners led by Claudio X. González and his Mexicanos Primero [Mexicans First] initiative, the current education civil servants and politicians from every party.
In Guerrero, impunity is the name of the game. The victims of the massacres in Aguas Blancas (1995) and El Charco (1995) are still awaiting justice. Armando Chavarría, leader of the Guerrero Congress and candidate for state governor, was killed in 2009. His case is still unresolved. In December of 2011 several police officers killed two students in Ayotzinapa. The murderers are free. Many of the state’s regions are full of clandestine cemeteries that house the bones of unidentified bodies.
Acapulco, Iguala, Eduardo Neri and many other municipalities in the state are drug trafficking territory. The Guerreros Unidos, Los Rojos and La Familia criminal organizations and their detachments are fighting over the marijuana and poppy growing business, drug routes and markets, and the kidnapping and extortion industries. This is why community police forces and self-defence groups have been popping up all over. Just last September 12 a group of 100 hooded men invaded the community of Carrizalillo, where an enormous mine, owned by the Canadian company Goldcorp, is operated. They shot at civilians as they made sure that the town belonged to them.
As the cases in Iguala and Olinalá, among others, show, those cartels benefit from the protection and support of politicians and police in the municipalities and in the state government. When José Luis Abarca, the mayor of Iguala, was accused of being responsible for the assassination of three opponents of his government, the case was closed. The mayor was protected by the local Congress, by members of the state government and by at least one federal congress member. Nestora Salgado, commander of the community police of Olinalá, was jailed in a high-security prison in August of 2013 because she published a press release in which she pointed to the involvement of her municipality’s mayor and other government employees in the trafficking of drugs.
Those networks of complicity make the state’s powers disappear. With them there is no way for justice to be brought. Ángel Aguirre Rivero’s administration was inaugurated with the murder of two normal school students from Ayotzinapa. The new crime against them committed on September 26 makes his departure necessary. As it is now, he is an absent leader.
Governor Aguirre does not hold the reins of the government in Guerrero. For all practical purposes, above all in matters of security, the person in charge of the state’s administration is his nephew, Jesús Ernesto Aguirre Gutiérrez, the first coordinator of Strategic Projects for the state administration and now external consultant, with offices in the governor’s house in Guerrero and personnel under his command.
Before he became the ‘super operator’ of his uncle’s government, Jesús Ernesto Aguirre Gutiérrez was a second-rate government employee at the Institute for Social Security and Services for State Workers (ISSSTE), which he left (La Jornada Guerrero, 5/16/09) when he was accused of diverting millions of monetary resources from the institution to back the campaign of his first cousin, Ángel Aguirre Herrera, the PRI candidate for federal congressman for district 8 of the Costa Chica.
In the hands of Aguirre Gutiérrez are the relationships with the press, political actors and the key powers that be of all kinds in the state. He also makes decisions on purchases, education and tourism. He is in fact the hand that rocks the cradle of the state government. With that power, he cannot be disconnected from what happened in Iguala.
Those who shot at the students from Ayotzinapa and arrested them were police officers. It was the Iguala director of public security, Francisco Salgado Valladares, who ordered their arrest. The young people were taken away in official vehicles. For all practical purposes, the state authorities allowed the mayor of Iguala, José Luis Abarca, and the director of public security to flee. The Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) took a week (one week!) to expel the municipal president from its ranks and, in spite of the serious complaints made against him since he was nominated, in 2012, it always protected and supported him. And even now it continues to defend Ángel Aguirre Rivero.
If the drug trafficking powers are camping out in the region, it is because the three levels of government allow them to do so. However you look at it, Ayotzinapa is a State crime, but it is also a crime against humanity, as is stipulated in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. There is no other way to describe the murder of six people at the hands of police officers (three of them students), the torture and the forced disappearance of 43 young people, mostly the children of farmers and students at the Rural Normal School Isidro Burgos. They took them away alive, we want them back alive!