Ayotzinapa: The Fire and the Ashes
Luis Hernández Navarro
The official story about the tragedy of Iguala was reduced to ashes. The "historical truth" of ex-attorney general, Jesus Murillo Karam, was engulfed in the flames of the evidence. The report from the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (IGIE) of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) demolished the foundation of the government’s version of events. As one mother said, "We knew that was a lie."
According to the IMIC report, the attacks in Iguala, on normal school students from Ayotzinapa on September 26th of last year, sought to stop the three buses seized by young people in Iguala [rural normal school students have a long-standing practice of seizing commercial buses to use to get to demonstrations], and the two that they had arrived in, from leaving the city. As well as punish the young people.
It is untrue that—as Murillo Karam said—the students tried to sabotage the ceremony of María de los Ángeles Pineda [wife of the mayor, José Luis Abarca] as president of the Iguala Comprehensive Family Development Programme. When they arrived in the city, the event had ended an hour previously.
The aggression against the students was massive, staggered and indiscriminate. It was carried out in nine different places and at different times (over a three-hour span), under direction and coordination.
The magnitude and sophistication of the attacks required complex levels of communication, infrastructure, and coordination, which did not remotely correspond to those that the Warriors United cartel have in the area. In Iguala, there is no record of an operation of this magnitude, nor are there records of murders, disappearances, or concealment of human remains in graves. Someone else, with more resources, knowledge and ability to act in the area, must have been responsible for this.
The operation against the students had two distinct stages: two heads of the same coin. On the first, the attack on the buses and on those who participated in the press conference to denounce the initial attacks, the attackers did not hide their identities nor did they mind the presence of witnesses. On the second, the enforced disappearances of the students, the perpetrators sought to conceal and erase any traces of the crime or their identity. The decision to enforce the students to disappear was a continuation of the violence unleashed against them from the start. Both were part of the same operation.
According to IACHR experts, a qualified and independent expert showed, conclusively, that the government’s version, where the 43 students were murdered by a group of hitmen and their remains were incinerated in a Cocula Municipal garbage, is unverifiable. Thus, the centre of the government’s account is a total wreck.
The report not only shows that the “historical truth” was a lie, but also raises serious questions about the responsibility of public officials and security institutions in the extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances and attacks on the students of the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Normal School.
State, municipal and federal police, as well as the army, were immediately informed, practically all the time, of the tragic events of September 26, 2014 in Iguala. Security forces were aware through the State Control, Command, Communication and Computing Centre (C-4) of what the Ayotzinapa students did since their departure from the school, missing a moment at 6pm, until they were attacked and arrested.
Despite officers of various security forces or the army knowing that the Ayotzinapa students were being violently attacked by uniformed personnel and armed civilians, they did nothing to prevent it. Although police and soldiers found themselves in the same place as the events, they allowed the young people to be barbarically assaulted.
However, there are two moments when C-4 communications disappeared. Interestingly, this lack of information coincides with the time after the first attack in Juan N. Álvarez Street and the time when they perpetrated the second attack in the same spot. In accordance with an official document of the Civil Protection Coordination of Chilpancingo, the information transmission from C-4 was interrupted at certain periods because the communication was blocked by the Secretariat of National Defence.
That means that, for some unknown reason, the Army blocked C-4 communication at the exact moment when the two key attacks against the students were carried out. Why they did this is a question without an answer.
These are not the only cases where the report highlighted military participation on that night in Iguala. Parts of the 27th infantry battalion were present at various crime scenes, unsuccessfully looked for detained students at police headquarters and interrogated (and threatened) the young people that were found in the Cristina Clinic asking that one of their peers be taken care of.
The Iguala tragedy is today a battle ground between memory and oblivion. The government bet on putting the attacks, extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances of the students behind them. Relatives of the victims have not given up on uncovering the truth and getting justice. The IGIE report is one point in favour of memory; a step forward in the search for truth and justice.
Translated by Amanda Coe