Mexico's Military Implicated in Disappearance of 43 Students

It was a 'state crime,' truth commission finds, along with evidence all were 'cunningly killed'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 19, 2022 3:45 PM CDT
Mexico's Military Implicated in Disappearance of 43 Students
A woman carries a banner that reads in Spanish "We are missing 43," referring to the 43 missing students from a rural teachers college during a march in Mexico City, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015.   (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)

Mexico's military was involved in the disappearance of 43 college students in 2014, according to the final report of a truth commission arranged by the current administration of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. The report labeled the mass abduction and murder a "state crime." It found that federal and military police knew of the movements of the students from the time they left Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers' College in Guerreo state on buses, heading for a demonstration, to the time they were stopped by local police in the city of Iguala because a soldier had infiltrated the group. The school is "known as a bulwark of radical protests and for defying drug cartel extortion," per Deutsche Welle.

That soldier disappeared with the rest of the students, per the Guardian. Remains of just three of 43 have been identified, but "all the testimonies and evidence prove that they were cunningly killed and disappeared," said Alejandro Encinas, deputy director of Mexico’s Human Rights Commission, per Reuters. The military, marines, and national guard provided documentation to investigators. Though it knew what was happening, the army made no attempt to search for the soldier, per the AP. "Their actions, omissions or participation allowed the disappearance and execution of the students, as well as the murder of six other people," who were killed during an initial clash, Encinas said, per AFP.

An inquiry under the previous administration determined the students were arrested by corrupt police, then handed over to a drug gang, which mistook the students for rival gangsters. They then killed them and burned the bodies, the report said. But the government of then-president Enrique Pena Nieto "concealed the truth of the facts, altered crime scenes, covered up the links between authorities with a criminal group," Encinas said. Independent experts in 2016 determined the students had incidentally commandeered a bus that was carrying heroin from Guerrero to Chicago, per the AP, and Encinas seemed to back that. He said one bus traveled through 16 federal security checkpoints that day without being stopped, suggesting authorities looked the other way. (More Mexico stories.)

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