On August 26, 2022, in Mexico City, family members and friends will march to demand justice for the 43 Ayotzinapa students who have gone missing. Associated Press hide caption
switch to caption Marco Ugarte/AP
On August 26, 2022, in Mexico City, family members and friends will march to demand justice for the 43 Ayotzinapa students who have gone missing.
MEXICO CITY, by Marco Ugarte/AP A retired general and three other army personnel have been detained by Mexican authorities, the government announced on Thursday. They are suspected of having ties to the 2014 disappearance of 43 students in southern Mexico.
The military officer who oversaw the army base in the Guerrero state city of Iguala in September 2014, when the students from a radical teacher’s college were kidnapped, was among those detained, according to Assistant Public Safety Secretary Ricardo Mejia.
Meja predicted a fourth arrest would occur shortly, and subsequently, a government official familiar with the situation who spoke on the record to address the issue confirmed that a fourth army man had been taken into custody.
Meja did not mention the names of individuals who had been detained, although Jos Rodriguez Prez, a colonel at the time, was in charge of the Iguala base. Rodrguez was elevated to brigadier general just a few months after the kids vanished, at a time when the relatives of the missing children were already raising questions about possible military participation and requesting access to the site.
The government official, who talked on the record under the condition of anonymity, confirmed Rodrguez’s arrest and the location of his detention facility. Regarding the other suspects detained, the source would only confirm that two were officers and the third was a soldier in the enlisted rank.
In a report released last month, a government truth panel re-examining the case claimed that Rodriguez was accountable for the disappearance of six of the pupils.
Alejandro Encinas, the interior undersecretary who oversaw the commission, claimed last month that six of the missing students were allegedly kept alive for days in a warehouse before being handed over to Rodriguez, who gave the order to kill them.
The study stressed that authorities had been closely watching the students from the teachers’ college in Ayotzinapa from the time they left their campus until their abduction by local police in the town of Iguala that evening. The report had referred to the disappearances as a “state crime.” One of the kidnapped pupils was a soldier who had infiltrated the school, and Encinas claimed the army did not follow its own procedures and attempt to save him.
There is additional information, which is supported by emergency 089 calls, that six of the 43 students who vanished were supposedly held for several days alive in what is known as the “old warehouse” before being handed over to the colonel, according to Encinas. The six students were purportedly alive for up to four days following the events until they were slain and vanished on the orders of the colonel, who was allegedly Col. Jos Rodrguez Prez at the time.
The fate of the 43 students has been the subject of numerous government and independent investigations, but none of them have been able to come to a single, definitive conclusion. However, it seems that local police in Iguala that night took the students off of several buses and gave them to a drug gang. The reason is still a mystery. Although pieces of charred bone have been linked to three of the students, their bodies have never been located.
Tension between the families and the government has long been a result of the army’s involvement in the students’ disappearance. There have always been concerns regarding the military’s involvement and knowledge of what transpired. The parents of the students had been requesting access to the Iguala army base for years. They weren’t granted entry until 2019, along with Encinas and the Truth Commission.
The Attorney General’s Office announced 83 arrest warrants shortly after the truth commission’s final report, 20 of which were for military personnel. Then, at the time’s attorney general, Jess Murillo Karam, was taken into custody by federal officials.
Since the arrest orders were announced, there had been rising doubts because no arrests had been reported. Additionally, the Andrs Manuel Lpez Obrador administration has developed a stronger public bond with the military than any other in recent memory.
The president pushed for the National Guard to be placed under full military control, and his congressional allies are working to prolong the military’s ability to continue police the streets until 2028.
Meja also denied any rumors that Jos Luis Abarca, the mayor of Iguala at the time, would be freed from jail following a judge’s finding that there was insufficient proof to convict him of kidnapping the student. Meja stated that the judge’s most recent ruling would be appealed because Abarca still faces other charges for organized crime and money laundering even without the aggravating kidnapping allegation. 19 other people were exonerated by the judge in a similar way, including the police officer from Iguala at the time.
In a joint statement released on Thursday, the Miguel Agustin Pro Human Rights Center and other nongovernmental organizations that have assisted the families of the students said that the government had not yet informed the families of Rodrguez’s case or the accusations he would be facing.
They claimed that if Rodrguez’s case did proceed based on “strong evidence,” it might be extremely important for keeping the military accountable. According to the statement, there is “abundant” proof that soldiers from the Iguala base cooperated with organized crime.
The groups urged officials to challenge the judge’s decision exonerating Abarca and others. They said that the Attorney General’s Office’s subpar work, particularly the substantial use of torture that caused much of the evidence to be excluded, contributed to the decision.