Ayotzinapa, the Time Tunnel

by Luís Hernández Navarro

It seems like a trip through the Tunnel of Time, back to the presidency of Enrique Peña Nieto. The EjércitoMX.Noticias tweet reports: Here I leave you the interview with General José Rodrígues Pérez, investigated by the Ayotzinapa case. In front of the camera, in the facilities of Military Camp No. 1, as if  he were not in prison, the Brigadier appears, talking with journalist Jorge Fernández Menéndez for a radio program (https://bit.ly/3BO0Qrw).

Jorge Fernández, the military interviewer, is one of the most unconditional propagandists of “the historical truth.” The regimes of the PRI and the PAN made use of his pen to justify the most heinous crimes and filter their versions of the worst atrocities, Ayotzinapa included. His fake documentary, La noche de Iguala (The night of Iguala) is publicity garbage, not only to cover up what happened in Guerrero eight years ago, but also to criminalize the rural normal schools. His cinematic pamphlet exudes the unmistakable stench of the pipes of power. It is the direct heir of ¡El Móndrigo!, cooked up in the basements of the intelligence services to discredit the student movement of 1968. (https://bit.ly/3LG3d4p).

Frame from the farsical documentary, La Noche de Iguala. Source: La Jornada

September 26th and 27th of 2014, now-retired general Rodríguez Pérez held the rank of colonel and led the 27th Infantry Battalion in Igual, with a long history of counterinsurgency. According to the undersecretary of the Interior, Alejandro Encinas, he had given, among other orders, the one to murder and disappear six students from Ayotzinapa, that were being held alive in a warehouse, four days after the attack on the normalistas.

The general was not arrested. He turned himself in voluntarily (“presented” himself, he says) on September 21st. He is accused of organized crime, not homicide or forced disappearance. In one of the tweets disseminating the interview, @Sedenanoticias warns: Don’t be fooled, the military did not intervene in the disappearance of the normalistas, as Alejandro Encinas wants to make us believe (original typos respected here.) The military man lashes out against the undersecretary: “what they did was vile. It was cowardly, to have spoken outside of the law,” the person states..

The institution is supporting me, the general explains. It is true. Sedena went all out to protect the ex-commander. It not only allowed the journalist into Military Camp 1 to interview him, eliciting his answers, but also, broadcast excerpts of the program. In addition, along with the military public defender’s office, he added heavyweight lawyers, Alejandro Robledo y César González Hernández, pro bono to his defense, who have just come out of loud legal disputes with the prosecutor Alejandro Gertz Manero.

August 18th, the undersecretary announced arrest warrants against 20 soldiers related to the night of Iguala. However, so far, only three more have been arrested, besides General Rodríguez. Second Lieutenant Fabián Alejandro Pirita Ochoa and Private First Lieutenant Eduardo Mota Esquivel. The other, Captain Jose Martinez Crespo, was already in custody and was served with a second arrest warrant.

The defense by the armed forces of general Rodríguez and the rest of the military personnel implicated in the forced disappearance of the 43 students of Ayotzinapa and in the invention of the “historical truth” is an indicator of its refusal to get to the bottom of the events of the night in Iguala. Their refusal to share the information about what they have about what happened, and their refusal to respond to the requests for documentation to clarify the crime against humanity creates tremendous skepticism about the future of the investigation.

This, despite the fact that the report of the Commission for Truth and Access to Justice points out how the military from the 27th Infantry Battalion of Iguala not only did nothing to prevent it and falsified what happened, but also murdered and disappeared some of the 43 youths (https://bit.ly/3C7GIlw).

The report, an investigation made by Encinas, with the powers given to him by decree, has already been submitted to the Special Prosecutor’s Office for the Ayotzinapa Case. The latter should be the one to follow-up, prosecute the investigation and bring the subsequent criminal proceedings.

However, this has not been the case. It was the Attorney General for the Republic and NOT the Special Prosecutor’s Office for the Ayotzinapa Case, that issued the accusation against Murillo Karam. Additionally, inexplicably, it reversed course, to cancel 21 arrest warrants, 16 for organized crime and forced disappearance, which had already been issued for military commanders, and members of the 27th and 41st Infantry Battalions. 

In what would seem another return to the past, Vidulfo Rosales, lawyer of the families of Ayotzinapa, is being subjected to an insulting campaign of attacks very similar to that which he experienced in the time of Peña Nieto. (https://bit.ly/3fqk1QU y https://bit.ly/3RnFKGs) All for defending the victims and seeking to explain the behavior of the outraged rural normalistas prior to trying them.

According to him, the armed forces are hermetic, closed, and unwilling to contribute to the clarification of this case. They are reluctant to go to the courts. They are not inclined to have mechanisms of judicial control over them. To go to the judges, to give an account of whether they participated or not. There is no such thing. This is our concern. If the armed forces are in this position, it is going to be very difficult for us to come to know the truth (https://bit.ly/3BN8HWr). If this hypothesis is confirmed, the trip to the Time Tunnel will be more than a metaphor.

This article was published in La Jornada on September 27th, 2022. https://www.jornada.com.mx/2022/09/27/opinion/014a2pol English translation by Schools for Chiapas.

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