On November 27, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto professed an understatement that was almost insulting, to a country rocked by protests over the disappearance of 43 students. Peña Nieto proposed police reform on account of “institutional weakness,” which characterizes Mexico’s 1,800 municipal police forces, many of them infiltrated by organized crime.
The announcement, in which Peña Nieto reaffirmed his commitment to a “secure” Mexico, might go down as one of the biggest examples of hypocrisy in the nation’s history. His administration’s official version of the September 26 events in Iguala is beginning to collapse in the face of the reality.
What if it wasn’t the municipal police of Iguala who attacked the students under the orders of narcotrafficking mayor Jose Luis Abarca? What if the federal police, despite what the official narrative says, were directly involved in the students’ disappearance? And what if the “institutional weakness” doesn’t only affect the municipal police, but is a characteristic of the the entire Mexican state?
These are questions begged by the revelations of Mexican weekly Proceso in its Sunday, December 14, edition.
According to Proceso‘s investigation, Peña Nieto’s administration is withholding what really happened. From their Ayotzinapa departure on that fateful September 26, driving in several buses towards Iguala, the students were being monitored by the Center for Command, Communications, Computing and Control (C4).
But contrary to the assertions of the official version, Iguala wasn’t the final destination; nor were the students planning on interrupting a speech by María de los Ángeles Pineda Villa, wife of the Iguala mayor. Her speech had finished two hours earlier, and according to one of the bus drivers, the students had taken the road towards Chilpancingo, capital of Guerrero state.
Iguala was only a stopping-off point on their journey towards Mexico city, where they were headed to participate in a protest on the following October 2. However, federal police were clearly waiting for them in Iguala. In fact, the first encounter between the students and these policemen took place at 21:40, exactly 18 minutes after they arrived at the city.
After the first clash, the police unleashed hell. Between 23:00 and 24:00, the police, trained to kill, fired round after round into the ambushed minibuses that were transporting the students.
“Now the [municipal] police are going … they’ve left the Feds here, and they’re going to rough us up!”
While witnesses pointed to the involvement of the municipal police, the protective clothing and headgear they described aren’t standard issue for the municipal force. The convoy of the three buses was ambushed by a patrol blocking the way, exposing the students to shooting.
“Now the [municipal] police are going … they’ve left the Feds here, and they’re going to rough us up!” warned a student in one of the recordings that came into the hands of Proceso. Seconds later, the windows were smashed by bullets, and the upholstery was stained with blood.
A false calm soon fell over the Iguala night, but the worst was yet to come. When the surviving students prepared to give a press conference about the police brutality a few hours later, the shooting began again, the newspaper recounts. Thus begins the history of the 43 disappeared students.
Deceit, All the Way Down
After this point, what happened becomes more uncertain. When Attorney-General Jesús Murillo Karam announced that the Guerreros Unidos cartel had killed the remaining students and burned their remains, he failed to mention that the testimony supporting this had been obtained under torture, and there was no corroborating proof.
A similar investigation carried out by the Autonomous University of Mexico showed that the official version even went against the laws of physics. Burning 43 bodies is no easy task, requiring so much fuel and time so as to be impossible to do without being seen.
Nor were those who disappeared any regular students. The attack was orchestrated on the “ideological and institutional” heart of the Ayotzinapa rural college, which has a long history of radical Marxist activism.
“Of the 43 who disappeared, one formed part of the Committee for Student Struggle, the highest governing body of the school, and 10 were ‘political activists in training’ of the Political Orientation Committee,” says Proceso. The federal security forces who presumably supervised the killing and disappearance of the students knew who they were dealing with.
As time goes by, more and more grisly details are emerging which show the Mexican state to be the dangerous mafia that it is.
Yet, sadly enough, no one can say that a massacre of such proportions is entirely unexpected. Violence resulting from the war on drugs has brought Mexican society to the abyss.
Translated by Laurie Blair. Edited by Fergus Hodgson.