GIEI, the Power of Truth

Luis Hernández Navarro

“Until we find them.” Banner of photos of the missing 43 students of Ayotzinapa.

Juan Salgado Guzman, also known as “El Indio” or “El Caderas,” was a key link in clearing up the forced disappearance of the 43 rural normalistas from Ayotzinapa. He was the uncle of Mario Casarrubias Salgado, “El Sapo Guapo,” founder of the Guerreros Unidos criminal group. However, although he was subdued by agents of the Attorney General’s Office (FGR), they executed him extrajudicially on September 22, 2021, in the municipality of Metepec, State of Mexico.

The list of key witnesses or criminals who participated in the night of Iguala and who possessed salient information and who were murdered is huge: more than 20. By eliminating them, essential testimonies vanish, evidence is erased and the hinges that served as a link between those who ordered the crime and those who perpetrated it disappear.

In the presentation of the preliminary report of the Commission for Truth and Access to Justice in the Ayotzinapa case (Covaj), Undersecretary Alejandro Encinas recognized the magnitude and seriousness of the human pruning in this case. “Unfortunately, in this process,” he said, “26 key people have died or have been executed in order to obtain information. Those people were members of Guerreros Unidos, three relatives of Guerreros Unidos, two members of the criminal group Gente Nueva, seven witnesses or people involved who were activists, officials, police and, among them, people who had been providing significant information.”

The dimension of this clean-up operation is indicative of the nature of the interests at stake in trying to prevent what happened in the State crime of September 26-27, 2014 from being known. The struggle between those who want the truth to emerge and those who want the lie to triumph is relentless. It has been so from the beginning. It is a combat in which there is no truce, it is waged on many different levels: the reports of human rights organizations, the speeches and actions of the State apparatus, the work of journalists, the battle of the parents of the missing boys.

The most accurate x-ray of what happened on the night of Iguala is the one elaborated by the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) in its sixth and last report. The work is a documented log of impunity in Mexico, which seems to have as its central axis the famous story by Joseph Conrad in The Heart of Darkness, in which the old sailor Marlow, on his voyage through the Congo colonized by the Belgians, exclaims: “I hate, I abhor and I cannot stand lies […]. In lies there are stains of death, an aroma of mortality.”

Images of the Cocula garbage dump, the site of the disposal of the student’s bodies according to the lies fabricated under the “historical truth.”

The sixth report analyzes with extraordinary rigor all the information on the case to which the GIEI had access. It contrasts the statements made by the alleged perpetrators, organized crime, intelligence agents, soldiers, marines and the different police forces about the events, with the telephone data. Thus, beyond what they say, it can be seen where they really were and with whom they communicated.

The conclusion is devastating. It is proven that, in different ways and to different extents, agents of all State institutions were involved in the crime against humanity. And, it is verified that, frequently, their versions are false. For example, the commander of the 27th Battalion based in Iguala said that he had not left the barracks when the attacks against the students took place. However, the telephone analysis shows that, at that very moment, his phone was on the move in the center of town.

The sixth report of the GIEI is not just another opinion. It is an investigation that presents the evidence for what it claims. Its authors do not give their point of view. They provide the findings of their investigation, contrasting the versions that have been told about what happened with verifiable facts.

At the beginning of this six-year term, in order to carry out its work in support of the case, the GIEI asked President López Obrador to open the military, Navy and Cisen archives. They thought that there was very important information there to search for the disappeared. So they did. At first, they had a partial opening. The documentation found there turned out to be crucial.

However, more than a year ago, the situation changed. They requested the opening of new archives of the armed forces. The files to which he had previously had access showed that there was much more relevant information about the case that had been withheld from them. The Army, Navy and Cisen responded that there was no more information to be provided, that what was requested did not exist, and that they did not do the kind of work and transcriptions needed.

The GIEI considered that the military response did not reflect the truth. That what they wanted was to undercut the investigation, to divert it. The experts were looking for the truth to be passed on to the realm of true justice, not in dribs and drabs. And, without opening the files that are still hidden, the investigation cannot go ahead. That is why they decided, as part of the termination of their agreement at the end of July, to leave the country and submit their report.

Their departure does not mean that the case is closed. The case cannot be closed. There are still things to know. The GIEI clarified many very important aspects, but key points are missing, especially what happened during certain hours of the night. And, of course: what happened to the young people after they were detained? Where did they take them?

Ayotzinapa, it must be remembered, is still an open wound. In order for it to heal, the investigation needs to move forward. Sooner rather than later, the force of truth will break through over simulation and lies.

Original text in La Jornada on August 1st, 2023.
English translation published by Schools for Chiapas.

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