Photos: Cristián Leyva.
Versión en español: Incertidumbre e indignación en las investigaciones de la masacre en Guerrero
Despite all the voices that have been raised demanding the safe return of the 43 students (normalistas) missing since 26th September, there has been no definite answer. Around 1,800 people, both policemen and volunteers are keeping up the search for the students. The country is shocked by this situation and investigations are still ongoing, or at least that is what the state attorney of Guerrero Iñaki White said yesterday at a press conference in the port of Acapulco.
On the 4th October mass graves were found with 28 bodies that remain unidentified. Little is known other than the operation was conducted by members of the Navy and the Army, as well as the prosecutor and the federal police. The area has been cordoned off since the discovery and the access is restricted to everyone save for experts from the Medical Examiner Service (Semefo) and specialists involved in the investigation.
For the inhabitants of La Parota neighbourhood, which is located near the hill where the graves were found, the discovery is not a surprise. They state that: “you can regularly see disgusting cars full of bodies that are thrown into those canyons from the hill.” Murder rates related to political killings and organized crime in the state of Guerrero are very high. Last Sunday, for example, two special education needs teachers were murdered when they were leaving an ISSSTE hospital in Acapulco. The reasons are unknown and no investigation has been opened.
In the area of Iguala, currently controlled by the cartel Guerreros Unidos GU (United Warriors), it is not rare to speak of graves. On the road between this city and the town of Mescala, in the region of Eduardo Neri (located 40 minutes from Iguala and still in dispute between The Reds and GU cartels) inhabitants are able to recognize several points where they are accustomed to seeing two or three people pulling out bodies from trucks and throwing them down the cliffs at the side of the road. On arriving in Mescala, military personnel guard the bus stops, shop fronts, and stop all those who seek to the centre. The war between organized crime groups has left a huge trace of violence and pain on the communities of Guerrero.
Iñaki Blanco declared that it must have been a hitman from GU who had given the order to execute the students. He also pointed out that this information along with the location of the graves, was provided by some of the 30 people arrested so far, 22 of them were local police who combined their “community service” with service to the organized crime.
The attourney did not go into much detail regarding this information and this is leading to uncertainty about how much to reveal of what is an open secret: the existence of a narco-government. However, he stressed that all the necessary arrangements will be made to put out an arrest warrant to detain Jose Luis Abarca Velázquez –Iguala’s licensed fugitive mayor- as well as the minister for public security from the same town called Felipe Flores (also a fugitive).
Slowly, the threads are starting to come together, albeit without revealing the specific reasons for the massacre. So far it has been possible to ascertain that Iguala’s mayor and his minister for security going on the run are related to their responsibility for these events, and perhaps to their belonging to the criminal group Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors). It is nothing new that mayors in this country are part of the structures of criminal organizations; one needs only to recall the overlapping of Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar cartel) with the local governments in Michoacán to understand that it is precisely these government positions that are allowing the growth and control of places by such organizations.
There is still much to investigate, but what is known so far -from the security-camera footage- is that 22 members of Iguala’s local police arrested more than 20 students, according to testimonies collected and documented in the records of the General Attorney of the Republic.. These students were transported in official vehicles to some public ministry and then, moved into these same police vans, which took them to their execution. So far, those arrested people, police-hitmen, have admitted murdering 17 of the missing students.
What is still unclear is the extent of the connection between the mayor and the GU-municipal police group who gave the direct order to execute the students and where the missing students actually are. It is unknown whether the motivation for this massacre is political; whether it is a message to the enemy cartel Los Rojos (The Reds); or whether it is a grudge match between two party factions vying for power in the region, that is to say between the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the Party of Democratic Revolution (PRD), or between the Figueroa family and Angel Aguirre group. In any case, the 28 bodies found in the graves thus far are being examined using blood and DNA samples to determine whether they are the remains of the students.
Meanwhile, thousands of young people from the rural Ayotzinapa School returned to the streets to demand the safe return of their missing classmates. They intermittently, but continually, blocked the Autopista del Sol (Sun Highway) at the point known as Marqués parador and subsequently at the service station of Palo Blanco. Both relatives and students insist that they will continue to pressure on the authorities and they are calling for a national demonstration this Wednesday at four o’clock, demanding the resignation of the governor Angel Aguirre Rivero and for those responsible for these atrocities to be punished.