Conflicts & War

Mexican students protesting mass abduction battle security forces

Mexico City, Feb 4 (EFE).- Hundreds of students at a rural teachers college in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero clashed with security forces Friday during a protest against the abduction of 43 of their classmates in 2014.

Some 500 state police and members of Mexico’s National Guard intervened to stop the students from the Ayotzinapa Normal School seizing control of a toll plaza on the highway linking the capital to the Pacific resort city of Acapulco.

The cops and guardsmen locked their Plexiglas shields and surrounded the protesters.

“These are the police who always beat students, students who come demanding justice,” a masked protest leader told reporters at the scene.

“We are a school of struggle, a school that does not remain silent, does not remain submissive in the face of the abuses of the government,” another student said.

Recent weeks have seen multiple attacks on toll booths by young people clamoring for authorities to get to the bottom of the mass kidnapping.

On the night of Sept. 26, 2014, students from Ayotzinapa, an all-male teacher training college known for its leftist activism, were attacked in Iguala, Guerrero, after they had commandeered buses to travel to Mexico City for a protest.

Six people – including three students – were killed, 25 were injured and 43 students were abducted and are presumed dead, though the bodies have not been found.

Two days after taking office in December 2018, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador signed a decree for the creation of a truth commission to solve the case.

Six months later, the Attorney General’s Office established a special independent unit to conduct the probe. Though there have been arrests and other signs of progress, the effort has yet to produce a definitive account of the events.

Guerrero Gov. Evelyn Salgado, who belongs to the president’s leftist Morena party, made a formal request Thursday for federal protection of the toll booths from “vandals” in search of money.

Authorities are eager to ensure that traffic flows smoothly ahead of the long Constitution Day weekend, when the road to Acapulco is typically packed with vehicles.

The administration of then-President Enrique Peña Nieto concluded in early 2015 that the students had been killed by drug cartel gunmen after being abducted by municipal cops acting on the orders of Iguala’s corrupt mayor, and that their bodies were incinerated at a waste dump in the nearby town of Cocula.

Peña Nieto insisted that the federal security forces were not involved in the crime.

But the parents of the missing students rejected the official version from the start and a group of international experts who examined the case pointed to numerous problems with the narrative.

The claim that federal forces had no role collapsed in the fall of 2020 with the arrest on racketeering charges of army Capt. Jose Martinez Crespo, who was assigned to the 27th Infantry Battalion in Iguala at the time of the kidnapping. EFE ppc/dr

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