Mexico: IACHR Experts Deliver Final Report on Ayotzinapa

Ángela Buitrago and Carlos Beristáin affirmed they could not follow the investigation due to the opacity of the authorities.

Family members of the 43 students during a protest. Photo: Pablo Ramos

The Interdisciplinary Group of Expert Investigators (GIEI) presented this Tuesday (25.07.2023) its sixth and final report on the disappearance of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa on September 26, 2014, entitled “Findings, advances, obstacles and unresolved issues.”

The GIEI, formed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), concludes its work on the case with this extensive report in the light of the impossibility of making further progress due to the opacity of the authorities -mainly the Mexican Armed Forces- and presenting data that attests even more, if that were  possible, to the need for the case not to be abandoned.

The document contains data that had already been previously released in some of the reports presented by the GIEI -the first one, on September 6, 2015- but also others that had not been previously known.

The findings of the sixth report

Ángela Buitrago and Carlos Beristáin, the last two members of the GIEI, affirmed in a press conference that the participation of the Secretariat of National Defense (SEDENA) was greater than what its members reported in interviews.

SEDENA agents were in the active zones that night of September 26-27, according to what the GIEI was able to establish, thanks to the elaboration of a location map and they ensured that there was “permanent” and “bidirectional” communication between the agency and the C4 (Command, Control, Computing and Communication Center). 

They also proved that SEDENA was aware of the movements of the criminal group Guerreros Unidos that night and the following days, and that they did not act. The information regarding SEDENA occupies most of the 322 pages of this report.

As for the Secretary of the Navy (SEMAR), Buitrago and Beristáin detailed that, although there is no information that it intervened on September 26 and 27, “it did intervene immediately afterward.”

“They say that they participated in perimeter security matters, (…) but we know that members of the Navy detained and tortured several detainees,” they said. They added that members of SEMAR carried out an intelligence operation of a classified nature, carrying out detentions and torture, events that resulted in the death of two people. 

The study and mapping of the telephone system shows many details unknown until now, such as the role of the Intelligence Center, which conducted an exhaustive monitoring of the activity of the young people that day. It is confirmed that there were agents of the CISEN (Center for Investigation and National Security) in the places where the students who were on buses were detained.

The GIEI established that they reached the “advanced understanding” that the youths were divided into three groups and that after that – according to statements – they would have been divided into other groups that “were not taken to the same place.”

Through a document, the experts detailed that an Army commander in the state of Guerrero explains that a member of Guerreros Unidos was going to hand over 10 of the missing students to the state police, although it is not specified whether alive or dead. A document dated October 4, 2014 states that some of the students were in a cave, but no further details are given.

The trail is lost after the division of the students into several groups. Although there are open roads and investigations, it is not known what the criminals or the security forces did with them.

Buitrago and Beristáin remarked that the Armed Forces insisted on hiding things “that are obvious” and that prevented progress. The GIEI continued its work with the promise that all the files would be opened, but there is still a lot of information missing.

“The responses of denial of documentation have continued, in a behavior more corporate than committed to the truth,” said Beristáin. In view of this, the GIEI ends its work with the case of the 43 missing students, but they insisted that the case is not closed by their absence, but that it is imperative that the Mexican Attorney General’s Office (FGR) be committed.

Original text in DW on July 26th, 2023.
Translation by Schools for Chiapas.

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