The investigation of the disappearance of 43 Mexican students continues as new reports have been released with information that contradicts previous official reports.
An investigative article reported that 27th Battalion of the Mexican army monitored the movement of those 43 students for hours before the attack on September 26th of last year. It also revealed that they were in the streets of Iguala the night that the students disappeared as evidenced by 7.62mm caliber bullet casings, which matches the G3 assault rifles used by the Guerrero state army but not the guns used by local police.
The report was written by journalists Anabel Hernández and Steve Fisher for the Mexican magazine Proceso, who obtained depositions from the government after a long legal battle.
This information contradicts the statements of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration, which has repeatedly stated that local police attacked more than 100 students, abducted 43 of them, and gave them to a local drug gang called Guerreros Unidos to incinerate in a garbage dump in nearby Cocula, writes Roque Planas of the World Post.
However, the new evidence raises questions about whether the soldiers were under orders from higher up in the government. Stories don’t add up; the attorney general and eyewitnesses say that men firing at the students were in plain clothes, but soldiers and military officials did not report any criminals in the area that night. The 27th Battalion refused to let police investigate their base to see if the missing students had been there, and a magistrate judge who spent the entire night in the Iguala police station said that the students weren’t brought there, which clashes with the Nieto administration’s story.
Evidence shows that authorities tortured key witnesses. In December, cell phone videos of surviving students show the presence of the federal police.
According to a deposition, one of the soldiers said:
We received the order from [name redacted]: ‘arm yourselves, we’re going out.’ He told us, ‘get [expletive] ready because there’s armed personnel that are going around killing people.’
Nieto’s handling of the incident is one reason for a downward spiral in his approval ratings.
Hernández, who has been exposing organized crime and political corruption for a decade, said:
In none of the reports, in none of the depositions do they mention criminal groups operating in the streets. It’s as if only the authorities were involved.
On the same day, a panel organized by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) published a separate report about the incident, describing the officials’ “utter incompetence and lack of will to find the students and bring those responsible to justice.” The panel noted that a large fire in the dump would have left visible damage, which hadn’t been found.
Their report reads:
This case remains open. The investigation continues, the search for the young students is moving forward, and it will be the courts who determine when this should finish and who will give the final conclusion.
According to Laurence Iliff of the Wall Street Journal, the 43 missing students were from the Ayotzinapa teachers’ college. That night they commandeered buses, which is not uncommon in Mexico, to transport themselves and their peers to Mexico City for the commemoration of students killed by soldiers and police in 1968. These activities usually are not met with violence from officials, leading some to theorize that one of the buses had heroin wanted by the police and the gang.
In addition to the 43 missing, six were killed in the original incident, reports Democracy Now.