Nothing is the Same Anymore

Abel Barrera Hernández*

To come up against the stonewalling of the Army and the appalling actions of the Attorney General of the Republic’s Office have been the hardest trials that we, as parents of the 43 disappeared normalistas have had to face with the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador. In the four years of intense battles, Enrique Peña Nieto was determined to destroy our lives with his false version of “the historical truth.” They tortured the detainees so that they would incriminate themselves and take it upon themselves to describe the atrocities they committed against our children. They drilled into our souls, bled us dry and brought us to the brink of exasperation. They could not defeat us. Our unwavering love and our desire for justice keep us steadfast and fighting. The solidarity of countless organizations revived us and helped us to cross the swamp of death.

The report presented by Alejandro Encinas unmasked the criminal fabric woven through the federal and state governments. Guerrero’s civilian and military authorities have been working in coordination for decades, not to protect the lives of citizens, but to destroy those they consider their enemies, to strengthen the economic interests of caciques and crime bosses. The armed actors of the state have specialized in the dirty war. They are experts in disappearing social activists and those they consider to be a threat to the government. For us it was not a novelty that the report pointed to the military as responsible for the disappearance of our 43 sons.

From the beginning we said it was a State crime; nevertheless the politicians kept silent and even joined forces to cover up for the criminals. In our hearts they buried the dagger of the horrors they committed against our children. We were unhinged by the perverse acts of the evil politicians and the murderous policemen. The gangsters who have always colluded with the heads of criminal gangs to disappear and bury innocents in clandestine graves were exposed.

The gold and drugs that are sold in Iguala and taken to Chicago, Atlanta and New York is a well-armed business between politicians and criminals, who are of the same ilk. For decades, the caciques opened national and international routes, with their buses and cargo trucks to secure the drugs that are processed in the highlands. It is a calamity to suffer the scourge of crime that controls the police and municipal presidencies. Jose Luis Abarca is the classic Guerrero politician who rises to power with the protection and support of caciques, military and crime bosses. In Iguala, Guerreros Unidos displaced Los Rojos to control the northern zone as far as Cuernavaca, Morelos. They achieved this with the support of the caciques, the Army, the police of several municipalities, the ministerial police and the then state attorney general’s office. To this day, the federal authorities do not dare to dismantle these criminal networks. Disappearances, murders, displaced peoples and murdered journalists continue. The same mining companies have benefited from organized crime to make pacts with criminals and secure their mega-businesses in the municipalities of Cocula, Teloloapan and Eduardo Neri.

We do not understand why they continue to protect both the criminals and those who put together the historical truth who are inside the Attorney General’s Office. We would also like to know why the Army is protected so much. In Guerrero we know everything they have done, and no government punished them. Now with Lopez Obrador they were given more power and more money. General Cresencio himself has become even more glamorous. He recently said that the Army watches over national security and the Mexican union, and that those of us who defend our rights have personal interests and ambitions. That we want to discredit them so that the people no longer trust them. He says that the Army and the National Guard’s mission is to respect human rights. So why don’t they want the army to be investigated, why do they refuse to provide all the information they have, and why don’t they comply with the commitment they made to collaborate with the Ayotzinapa commission by providing all the information in their files?

As parents of the 43 we see that there is anger from the Army. We are the ones who are offended by everything they did with our children. They cannot stop us from protesting and expressing our pain and our rage. We are not going to allow the Attorney General’s Office to trample on our rights, that they themselves take the side of those who have warrants for arrest. Why is it that, in the face of General Cresencio’s claim that there are people interested in tarnishing the image of the Armed Forces, three days later the arrest warrants against the military were dropped?

Do we want to know what interests are being defended by the officials of the prosecutor’s office who asked for the cancellation of the arrest warrants against 16 military personnel and against the former officials of Guerrero such as Iñaki and Lambertina? With this we see that they do not want to advance in the investigations and much less arrest the military. Where is the commitment to our human rights?

Now the President says that there are infiltrators in our movement, that there are outside interests that seek to destabilize his government. We are truly worried, because we see that many want to discredit our protests, so that our anger does not become visible. We are really very angry, because the prosecutor’s office has slammed the door in our face by canceling the arrest warrants. They don’t even bother to explain to us why they did it. The prosecutor has always ignored us. We see that there are very big political interests that oblige the officials of the old prosecutor’s office to maneuver corruptly so that neither the military nor the officials with arrest warrants get put in jail. 

Nothing is the same in our lives since the disappearance of our 43 children. We left our families and plots of land, we lost three fathers and a mother. We have been battered by politicians with their disdain and betrayal, and sickness wants to bring us down. Even if our houses are flooded by the rains and our walls are cracked by the tremors, we will not stop fighting until we know where our beloved children are.

* Director of the Human Rights Center of the Mountain-Tlachinollan

This piece was published in La Jornada on September 28th, 2020. https://www.jornada.com.mx/2022/09/28/opinion/023a1pol English translation by Schools for Chiapas.

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