Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico: “What I Saw and Heard About Ayotzinapa Massacre ” – Father Alejandro Solalinde
Proceso: José Reveles
He was a young normal school student from Ayotzinapa, one of the Indigenous who were saved. Suddenly, he broke out weeping inconsolably. Father Alejandro Solalinde recalls:"And I wept with him, we cried together for a long time."
That was on Wednesday, October 15.
Last Sunday, October 12, the priest was able to interview some of the police and people involved in the kidnapping of the 43 students who, supposedly, the government continues "searching for," but they were eliminated in the early hours of September 27: "I cannot tell you who they are, because their lives are in danger. They are full of fear, because they are people of conscience, people of our people who were witnesses of the horror (in truth, they were more than witnesses, he adds). They are people who told me that some of the injured students they burned were not dead."
Solalinde asked one of the informers who communicated the horror directly: "Why didn’t you report it?" "He replied, ”But to whom, if everyone is judge and jury? I cannot go say anything knowing that they are going to kill me first thing. My testimony wouldn’t reach anyone’."
In an interview, Solalinde recapitulates: "It is heartrending information that fills me with sorrow and pain. Its confirmation would reveal not only the viciousness of an entire system, but also its hypocrisy and the mismanagement of the tragedy. Instead of taking a humanitarian approach, they took a political one, as if the tragedy could be a political resource for channeling (advantages) to the political parties."
Proceso: Are you confirming it? Do you have any doubts about these witnesses?
"No. Absolutely not. They gave me details, but they are like police in Oaxaca who did things against their will and were driven nearly mad by their conscience, by remorse. They no longer serve the State."
Proceso: Did you first inform the bishops, the Catholic hierarchy?
"I haven’t spoken with them, but I will. I am a friend of the Bishop of Acapulco and of the others, and I know that the Church has a lot of information, because the people approach their ministers and confide in them what is haunting them inside."
Proceso: Why did you make this massacre public, when the government says that it is continuing to look for the 43 normal school students alive?
"Because my conscience demands it. I cannot remain silent. I am outraged to hear Governor Ángel Aguirre Rivero saying that he is hopeful, that he is confident that they are going to find the normal school students alive.
"Why do they manage the truth politically? They knew [the truth] before I and other priests whom people approach. In the government, from the outset, they receive information from everyone; they are only pretending with political opportunism."
The State Shot to Kill and Kidnapped
Proceso: Can you overcome the entire power structure?
"My conscience and my duty as a priest come first, before such considerations. I do not manage myself like the politicians. We have to get to the bottom with the truth and not manipulate it politically."
The well-known defender of migrant rights then adds, "We have to arrive at total transparency," because the State "persecuted the normal school students. It shot them. On two occasions, it shot to kill. It delivered to the criminal gang the survivors they were able to capture and they were burned in a cruel manner."
Proceso: Might they not have wanted to trick you with false or exaggerated information just to make a scandal?
"Everything is possible. Even a trap for me. Except that one knows and has experience with people. I would prefer that they pounce on me rather than continuing to deceive the people with false hope, when the government already has all the information."
Father Solalinde likes to respond with questions: "Oh, how I hope I am wrong, but I don’t think so. Let’s see: if the students from Ayotzinapa were alive, do you think that they [government] would pass up the opportunity to release them so the problem wouldn’t continue to grow? [Failure to do so] is the best confirmation that they were liquidated. This is why the young student burst into tears when I began to talk to him about the other testimonies, because they [government had] raised the hope that they would find the disappeared students alive.
"Clearly, we see that the political parties are making time for everything to remain in doubt and gain time to win the election [midterm Congressional elections in June of 2015]. The government first [PRI, Party of the Institutional Revolution, party in power]. The PRD [left-leaning Party of the Democratic Revolution] is doing it in order not to lose that important stronghold [Guerrero's Governor is PRD], because it involves political capital.
"The PAN [rightist National Action Party] has never had influence in the southern part of the country because it has not had any interest in poor people; nonetheless, it can also make the most of the two [political parties] that are already stalled, because a third party could possibly make gains in Guerrero society."
The priest says that starting at the federal level, through the state level and, of course, at the municipal level, "everything that happens in Guerrero is a patch. All that is done is a patch, but the same thing happens in Veracruz, Tamaulipas, Michoacán, everywhere.
"What is needed is a reworking of Mexico, the country in which bodies appear everywhere. Mexico is a grave. Why not make a national pact, a national dialogue. Why not take the best that we have and rework the country?"
The priest answers his own question: "Because the authorities invest more in powers for domination, and because they are at the service of other neoliberal, capitalist interests. We do not interest them. They do not care about us."
Politicians "appear on television. The people see them on television, in photographs and in the press. They are people who seem serious, responsible. They seem truly concerned about us. But the truth is that we are alone."
The priest says that in Michoacán, Veracruz, Nuevo León and in other states, only palliatives are implemented. The government does not yet know what to do "and the problem is that the violence is border to border and coast to coast."
The Politically Useful
Another point-blank question is posed by the founder and director of theMigrants on the Road shelter located in Ixtepec, Oaxaca: "Let’s see. Politically speaking, what is least damaging? To say, ‘here are the tortured, burned, buried, destroyed’? Or to manage that they are disappeared?"
He does not wait for the response, which he has himself repeated several times: "For the politicians, the preservation of hope is more useful because, with that, there is no evidence, yet, that [that strategy] exhibits the criminality of the State itself."
Solalinde said that it was providential that he missed the plane that was to take him from Guerrero to Nayarit. Instead, he was given the opportunity to be connected with eyewitnesses who were present at everything.
Proceso: Only eyewitnesses?
Solalinde hesitates for a few seconds, then responds: "Something more than that."
He is not very explicit, because he doesn’t want to jeopardize those people. He knows that the government checks all his movements. By telephone, he prefers not to speak about certain things. But he lets loose: "Obviously, they remain fearful. I cannot say anything more because, believe me, it isn’t just them but also their families who are threatened if they tell what they saw."
Translated by Jane Brundage
Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico: "The 43 Ayotzinapa students are dead, some were burned alive," Father Alejandro Solalinde
Proceso, 17th October, 2014
The 43 Ayotzinapa normal school students disappeared from Iguala are dead. There is no hope that they will appear alive and some were burned alive, Father Alejandro Solalinde said today.
In an interview for the Novosti agency and the Austrian daily Der Standard of Vienna, he said: "From Sunday to today, I have had several meetings with witnesses, eyewitnesses, students who suffered the first and second attack, but there are other sources, who are not students, who spoke to us of another time. They talk about some that were wounded, and the wounded were burned alive. They poured diesel fuel on them. That is going to become known. They say that before they put wood over them, some of them were alive, some dead.
"The first direct information I got on Sunday. The second I got yesterday in Mexico City. The first thing I learned is that there are witnesses, but they are afraid to speak. There are witnesses among the police themselves. There is always someone who has a conscience; but if they talk, they fear that they are going to be killed," said the priest.
Solalinde clarified that he doesn’t know whether the young people could be in one of the pits that the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) and the Union of Peoples and Organizations of the State of Guerrero (UPOEG) found in Iguala.
"We don’t know. If they are in the pits, the Argentine forensic anthropology team doesn’t have the technology to find out. They can work in normal conditions, but it is impossible with charred remains," but, he insisted: "There is no hope that they are alive."
Solalinde, who is the National Human Rights Award winner in 2012, said the Mexican government is managing the case politically rather than as one of justice, and assessing what truth to tell, that with the least political cost.
"What is least painful for the system? To say they were burned up, with all that implies? Or to say that they are missing, and they do not know what happened? Because it is less shocking to say the latter, and also less compromising, but it is more painful for the families to leave them with hope. The government knows many things. If it is withholding the truth, that is its responsibility. I must say, their management is already contaminated and its management is not one of justice. It’s political," he charged.
Translated by Reed Brundage