Luis Hernández Navarro
Ayotzinapa is an open wound. Eight and a half years have passed since the atrocity and the wound still has not healed. How can it close if the truth doesn’t come? If there is no justice? If the damage is not repaired?
The fifth report of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI), An Overview of the Facts, Those Responsible and the Situation of the Ayotzinapa Case, the latest, shows us, broken down into 36 points, the enormous obstacles to illuminating the darkness that hangs over the tragedy. With proven evidence, they show the impossibility of closing the case.
The report demonstrates that different authorities at the municipal, state and federal levels, including the information services against drug trafficking, that is, the Army, Federal and State Police, the Cisen (Center for Investigation and National Security) and the Iguala municipal police, knew, in real time, about the arrival of the students of the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Normal School and their intention to take buses to go to the October 2 march in Mexico City.
The statements of protected witnesses and the documents found by the GIEI paint a terrifying portrait of the narco-state in Guerrero. There was collusion between members of municipal, state and federal security forces and institutions and organized crime in Iguala and nearby cities. Although it was known about the transfer of drugs in passenger buses, the experts have not located any reports about the departure of these buses, or about the filters used by drug trafficking groups to enter the city.
Military personnel were in collusion with drug traffickers, as can be deduced from the Chicago wiretaps (DEA wiretaps of conversations of Guerreros Unidos members) responsible for the 27th and 41st Battalion, in which there is talk of payments to at least one commander and one captain. Protected witnesses have confessed that they periodically received money to enable Guerreros Unidos business.
The rural normalistas were not all captured at the same time, in a single operation. They were attacked with firearms at seven different times, in different places, over four hours. The information about the events was known in real time by the C41. Despite this knowledge and the brutality of the aggressions, no government authority at any level did anything to prevent it.
Despite President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s order to allow experts full access to critical information, the Ministry of Defense is withholding it. Statements by commanders and personnel of the 27th Infantry Battalion, based in Iguala, have been modified as the investigations have progressed. Its members have lied over and over again. For example, they hid their presence in the barracks or said, falsely, that they remained in their barracks that night.
A soldier observed, through technical means, three municipal police vans. In the middle one, civilians were being transported. However, this evidence has not been turned over to the Attorney General’s Office (FGR).
Inexplicably, despite the evidence against them and despite having all the legal support, the arrest warrants against numerous military personnel who participated in the events were cancelled by the Attorney General’s Office in September 2022. Six of them, which are priorities for the GIEI, have not been reactivated.
As part of a counterinsurgency logic, the Army sent three soldier infiltrators as students in Ayotzinapa. Known as search and observation bodies (OBI), they informed their superiors of the students’ agreements and movements. They communicated every day to report on the situation. One was among the 43 missing boys. Another OBI reported on September 27, after the events, and announced to his commanders that he would suspend communication for security reasons. The Secretary of Sedena at the time falsely stated that the missing soldier had suspended the relationship since September 22. On the 27th, the secretary made contact with the young man’s family. “All of this,” the experts assert, “was concealed in the investigation for seven years, until the GIEI found the documents in the Sedena archives following an access warrant from the President of Mexico.”
The Secretariat of Defense knew at all times what was being done to the rural normalistas. Despite this, it did nothing to prevent it, protect them or rescue them. However, the Army denies this, as it also denies the existence, proven with documents, of the Iguala Regional Intelligence Fusion Center (CRFI), when the attack against the youths took place.
They were not the only State intelligence services that knew what was happening in real time. The Cisen had agents and information about what was happening. But these reports have not been made public.
From the GIEI report it is clear that Ayotzinapa was a State crime, a crime against humanity. An atrocity in which the highest civilian and military authorities of Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration are involved, with enough power to stop and boycott the full understanding of the facts. If the truth of the night of Iguala does not emerge and if justice is not served to the victims, the ghost of Ayotzinapa will mercilessly haunt the entire country.
This article was published in La Jornada on April 4th 2023. https://www.jornada.com.mx/2023/04/04/opinion/016a2pol
English translation by Schools for Chiapas.