Obrador’s Term of Office Ends without Clarification of Ayotzinapa Case

Relatives of the 43 student teachers who disappeared when entering the meeting with the federal government.

Once election day was over, federal government officials, led by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, met that Monday afternoon with relatives of the 43 students from the Normal School of Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, who disappeared almost a decade ago.

According to La Montaña Human Rights Center, Tlachinollan, during the meeting the president did not present any progress in terms of search and investigation. The organization, which accompanies the movement for the appearance of the young student teachers, reports that the mothers and fathers left the meeting with little hope given what they describe as an indolent government.

Through the relatives’ lawyer, Vidulfo Rosales Sierra, they detailed the information shared by the Commission for Truth and Access to Justice in the Ayotzinapa Case (COVAJ), which highlights hundreds of search actions on the ground.

“The work that the government does is recognized, but we do not have substantive results. We also reported on the processes, that we already know how they are progressing, and that in our opinion, instead of having victories, there have been defeats, because the military’s precautionary measure has been modified and today they are free,” the lawyer maintains.

Nine months have passed since the last meeting between the relatives of the normal students and the Mexican State, and the main demand, the delivery of 886 pages in the hands of the Secretariat of National Defense (SEDENA), has not yet been met.


The insistence of the relatives is due to the fact that, with the assistance of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (IGIE), since 2022 they have located a set of relevant documents among the military archives. These contain data, obtained through a telephone intervention carried out by the army during the night of September 26th, 2014, on the transfer of 17 students from the Iguala municipal detention center to the Loma de Coyotes neighborhood.

Given this, the mothers and fathers of the student teachers denounce a simulation in the handling of documents shared by the State. While the presidency assures that they shared 15 new pages from the Regional Intelligence Fusion Centers (CRFI) and 70 documents related to said communications, the relatives claims that this information was already in the hands of COVAJ.

Added to this is the delay in the extradition, from the US and Israel, of two officials involved in the criminal acts. In the case of Tomas Zeron de Lucio, former head of the Mexican Criminal Investigation Agency, Obrador argued that progress cannot be made because Mexico does not have a treaty on the matter with Israel.

The formal extradition request to the State of Israel was presented by the Mexican Foreign Ministry in December 2021. As of December 14th, 2023, the Israeli Ministry of Justice reported that the request is in the final stage of analysis.

However, by April 2024 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) made public a claim towards the government of Benjamin Netanyahu. In this it considers that “the lack of progress in the resolution of this case is interpreted as a de facto protection by the Israeli Government to Tomas Zeron.” The authorities’ argument is that the requested legal action involves a person who committed acts of violence, torture and remains a fugitive from Mexican justice.

Meanwhile, the extradition of Jose Ulises Bernabe, director of the railing detention center in Iguala, is of utmost importance for family members in search of justice. He is considered one of the first witnesses of the military presence during the hours in which the disappearance of the student techers occurred. He is even pointed out by a municipal police officer as the person who handed over a group of young people to the Guerreros Unidos criminal group.

Bernabe fled to the United States where he obtained political asylum in April 2015. According to lawyer Rosales, the United States acted in a biased manner by granting asylum to the former Iguala official without considering the accusations against him in the Mexican courts.

Insufficent Reports

In contrast to the presidency’s position, for the relatives of the missing student teachers it is clear that the Obrador administration failed in its job. In a message to the press, while they were waiting near the National Palace before the meeting, Meliton Ortega, spokesperson for the mothers and fathers, shared that the relatives know that Obrador ends his term without resolving the case.

Lawyer Rosales highlights that during the meeting with security cabinet officials, President Obrador limited himself to criticizing the work of the IGIE, transferring responsibility for the stagnation in the investigations to the organization. Even more regrettable, says the human rights defender, is that the president withdrew after that brief participation. “Today mothers and fathers leave without progress in the searches and investigations. The worst thing is that after almost ten years they don’t know anything about their children,” he claims.

Obrador offered a new meeting, with a tentative date for next July. The family members demanded that the president-elect, Claudia Sheinbaum, attend this meeting, as they expressed their concern because the issue was not among the commitments that she promoted in her campaign platform.

“They are disillusioned with this government. Despite the president’s adamant stance of continuing to defend the army and holding experts and lawyers responsible, they hope that, in the next meeting, the government will have consistent results,” said lawyer Rosales.

Original article by Sara Frabes, Avispa, June 5th, 2024.
Translated by Schools for Chiapas.

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