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Mexico: More Holes in Missing Students Case

Bill Weinberg

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Mexico’s Prosecutor General Arely Gómez González announced last week that forensic experts have identified a second victim in the case of the 43 missing students.

Human remains found in plastic bags dredged from the Río San Juan in Guerrero state are said to be those of missing student Jhosivani Guerrero de la Cruz. Austrian forensic experts from Innsbruck Medical University made the identification and had earlier identified one other student based on a bone fragment.

But the announcement came amid new controversy, as an Argentine forensic team working on the case called the identification of the second set of remains “weak and not definitive.” The Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF) made the announcement after meeting with the parents of Jhosivani Guerrero two days after the Prosecutor General’s announcement.

Amnesty International agreed that the Prosecutor General had jumped the gun.

“The Mexican authorities’ baseless claims to have identified Jhosivani’s remains reek of desperation and of a cruel attempt to show they are taking action ahead of the one year anniversary of the student’s enforced disappearance,” Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty said. “It looks like they are willing to stop at nothing to wash their hands of any responsibility over one of Mexico’s most shocking human rights tragedies in recent history. Instead of playing games with the lives and hopes of the relatives of the disappeared students, the Mexican authorities must make a serious and concerted effort to re-direct investigations and ensure no stone is left unturned until the whereabouts of all 43 students are established.”

The same day, Mexican authorities announced the capture of one Gildardo Lopez Astudillo AKA “El Gil.” He’s said to be a high-ranking member of the Guerreros Unidos, the local narco gang the government says was responsible for the mass abduction and murder of the students. National Security Commissioner Renato Sales Heredia confirmed the arrest of “El Gil,” who was found on the streets of Taxco, Guerrero, carrying a gun and false identification. Sales Heredia pledged that the investigation will continue.

The Mexican government is under growing pressure to show results in the case. On September 11, the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) called upon Mexico to address the failures of its investigation into the mass disappearance. Local activists in Guerrero and surviving kin of the missing students continue to maintain that local—and perhaps federal police—were involved in the abduction by turning the captive students over to the murderous Guerros Unidos.

Fue el estado (translated as ‘it was the state’) has become a movement slogan to demand justice in the case.

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