Mexico City, Mexico — Following a meeting with government officials, families of 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College who were forcefully disappeared in 2014 are demanding Mexico’s military release 800 files related to the case.
The families’ demands derive from a commitment made by the Mexican government on December 29, in which it granted full access to military documents the families deem necessary to continue investigating the case. The families had earlier denounced being stonewalled by the Mexican military.
Through a press release, the fathers and mothers from Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, denounced that the government has withheld vital information to solve the mass disappearance that occurred between September 26 and 27, 2014.
Namely, the families are requesting access to 800 files from the Regional Fusion Center of Intelligence (CRFI), an intelligence agency that was active in the region at the time, and the telephone records of people involved in the case.
The parents demanded that these documents be the government’s first step concerning the opening order in late December, adding that international experts and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights attend the inspection of the declassified information.
In addition, since Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador introduced himself as the head of the commission in charge of investigating the case, The Ayotzinapa families have requested periodic meetings with the president to discuss the progress of the investigation.
Although initially backed by the parents of the 43 students for his promises to bring them justice, López Obrador has recently changed his tone regarding the Ayotzinapa case, including denying that the military has withheld information regarding the disappearance of the students and accusing lawyers and NGOs representing the families of manipulation for political purposes
“The families reiterated that the failure to provide military information is not their perception, but an objective reality that has been proven throughout the process of seeking truth and justice for almost a decade,” according to a statement from the families.
A State Crime
Nearly ten years after the disappearance of the 43 students from the rural teachers’ school, the investigation launched by López Obrador since his election in 2019 has evidenced the involvement of government authorities such as police and military, with the current administration acknowledging the massive disappearance as a “state crime.”
In 2022, official inquiries found that the military had infiltrated a soldier into the rural school to monitor and gather intelligence from the students. The 25-year-old soldier, Julio Cesar López Palotzin, was allegedly in charge of reporting to the Secretary of Defense on the rural Ayotzinapa school and its students.
Nevertheless, the young soldier disappeared in September 2014 alongside the rest of the students.
The case presented by then Undersecretary of Human Rights Alejandro Encinas, the government official overseeing the investigation, showed that the army could have known the exact location of the abducted students if they had followed the protocol outlined for rescuing a member of the military.
By failing to take the necessary steps to rescue a soldier in danger, the Mexican army condemned Lopez Palotzin and the rest of the students to disappear. In his report on these findings, Encinas stated that whether by “action, omission or negligence,” the Mexican military is also responsible for the disappearance.
However, the limited findings have yielded no definitive results, with only 14 military officers currently imprisoned for their involvement in the disappearances and no suspected intellectual authors being investigated or arrested.
Since 2014, authorities have identified the remains of only three students; the whereabouts and the ultimate fate of the remaining 40 students remain unknown.