Ayotzinapa, A Spurious Route

Photo SFC. Painting Gustavo Chavez.

Luis Hernández Navarro

Maestro Felipe de la Cruz has a flair for words. His speeches set the crowd on fire. Raised in the port of Acapulco, he is a graduate of Ayotzinapa. He is a natural leader. He has the stamp of rural normalismo on his skin.

His good fortune is indisputable. On September 26, 2014, his son Ángel Neri de la Cruz was aboard one of the Estrella de Oro trucks that the students took over in Iguala. He was fortunate to survive the massacre and forced disappearance of his schoolmates.

Although his son remained alive, Felipe joined the struggle of the relatives of the disappeared. From the first days of the movement, members of the State Coordinator of Education Workers (Ceteg) in Acapulco warned parents to be wary of Felipe. Be careful. He is a traitor, an infiltrator. He only comes to take advantage, they told them. Those were days when the Ceteg was divided and the relatives thought that the warning was the result of the jealousy of one of the rival factions.

Curiously, Felipe was never chosen as a representative of the victims, nor was he formally authorized to speak on their behalf. The president of the Parents’ Committee is Melitón Ortega Jimenez. Nevertheless, with a tough and radical rhetoric, De la Cruz approached the victims. Even if he was not, the journalists began to treat him as a spokesman, since he was always willing to testify or give information.

De la Cruz gained the trust of the collective, in the meeting they had with President Enrique Peña Nieto in Los Pinos, on October 29, 2014. If you can’t handle the case, think about resigning,” he told the president.

Felipe began to take initiatives on his own without consulting the parents. For example, he made backroom deals with interim governor Rogelio Ortega. In November 2014, he agreed to a meeting with the governor’s wife and family members, in which she would give them 150,000 pesos. The assembly broke the agreement.

With Guerrero in flames, parents, students and popular organizations agreed to boycott the June 7, 2015 elections. They planned to carry out strong actions and prevent the installation of polling stations in strategic places in Tixtla, to derail the election and pressure for the presentation alive of the 43. Felipe was at the meeting where the agreement was made. However, to tame the protest, on election day he took the young people to a rally in the center of Tixtla. But, the people, enraged, overtook him. They went after the ballot boxes and burned them. Fifty percent could not be installed. The elections were annulled.

In addition to advocating for former governor Angel Aguirre, on several occasions he took a small group of parents with him. At the Commission for Truth and Access to Justice (Covaj), they demanded that the former governor not divide the parents. He defended himself by arguing that he had not called them. My friend Felipe de la Cruz asked me to meet with them. I have given them economic support.

The parents sent for Felipe and shouted at him: “We have lost confidence in you, don’t do that!

De la Cruz was also the means by which a small group of family members approached businessman Pedro Segura Valladares. In 2021, at a meeting in Mexico City, he spoke with the parents to inform them that there was a person who would bring financial support (120,000 pesos) and information about the fate of their children. That person was Segura. Afterwards, he took them to a mobilization in support of the Abarca couple, the former mayor of Iguala, cousin of Francisco, former director of Public Security of Iguala when the youths were disappeared. He has an open investigation file for this.

Not content with these maneuvers, one day after a meeting with President López Obrador, Felipe, without speaking to his colleagues, announced his candidacy as Morena’s alternate congressional candidate. Immediately, the movement accused him of treason and vetoed him.

Despite his background and not having a disappeared son and not being their legal representative, De la Cruz has been recognized as an intelocutor for the federal government, as part of the group of four fathers who revolve in Segura’s orbit (several divorced and with their spouses on the other side of the movement). The Segura supporters have been repudiated by the vast majority of the victims.

As if that were not enough, in addition to opening space for spurious representatives, the intervention of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) for Ayotzinapa has been unjustifiably presented as the result of a shady agreement or an interventionist measure.

The GIEI acted in Mexico both during the government of Enrique Peña (from 2014) and Andrés Manuel López Obrador (since 2020). The signing of the technical assistance agreement that gave it life is a product of a precautionary measure granted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). Mexico belongs to the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights and its resolutions are mandatory. The Mexican State must comply with them.

Original article published in La Jornada on February 15, 2023.
Translation by Schools for Chiapas.

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