Mexico City, Sep 26 (efe-epa).- Hundreds of protesters on Saturday joined the families of 43 students of the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College, who were forcibly disappeared in 2014, in a demonstration in the heart of Mexico City to demand justice on the sixth anniversary of the tragedy.
The slogan-chanting demonstrators, wearing masks to prevent the Covid-19 pandemic, marched from the iconic Angel of Independence monument to the central Zocalo square, which houses the National Palace, the seat of the government.
“The most important thing is we don’t have the 43. We don’t know the whereabouts of our 43 comrades. That is why we decided on this September day to come out on the streets, despite knowing that there is a pandemic,” lawyer Vidulfo Rosales said in an address to the gathering at the Zocalo.
At a square half-filled by a protest campsite of an anti-government ultraconservative group, Rosales said that if businesses were allowed to reopen amid the pandemic, the victims can’t be “waiting for permission to come out on the streets.”
The demonstration stopped in front of the red monument called +43, installed by protesters in the capital in 2015, where they read out the names of the 43 missing students.
The participants of the march chanted their traditional slogans such as “26th September is not forgotten,” “the fight continues,” “they took them alive, we want them back alive” and “Ayotzinapa lives, the struggle goes on.”
During the meeting, Rosales welcomed Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s announcement earlier on Saturday that arrest warrants had been issued against soldiers and federal police officers linked with the disappearances.
“The investigations continue (even)today. We have arrest warrants against soldiers who are roaming free, against federal police who are also out, and they will soon be arrested,” said the lawyer, although insisting that the whereabouts of the missing young men still had to be clarified.
He lashed out against the previous government of ex-president Enrique Pena Nieto (2012-2018), calling it “fascist” and “criminal” for allegedly suppressing the investigation of facts and offering a false version of events, dubbed the “historical truth.”
According to the controversial theory, the 43 students were detained on the night of Sep. 26, 2014, by police from the municipality of Iguala, Guerrero, who handed them over to the Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors) drug cartel, who in turn murdered them and burned their bodies at a nearby garbage dump.
However, this version had been questioned by the victims’ families and experts of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, who said the victims could not have been burned at the spot and pointed to the involvement of the military and the federal police in the incident.
The current government, which reopened the investigation, further discredited the version of Pena Nieto’s administration when in July the remains of one of the students were found far away from the garbage dump.
Earlier on Saturday at the National Palace, Lopez Obrador apologized to the victims’ families on behalf of the state and urged agencies to speed up the investigation.
The Truth Commission, established by the president in 2018 and consisting of prosecutors and the families, said on Saturday that 30 searches had been carried out in six municipalities and 80 people had been arrested about the case.
At least 70 arrest warrants have been issued against municipal and federal police officers, military officials and soldiers, officials of the federal prosecutors’ office, and members of organized crime groups.
Meanwhile, efforts are underway to seek the arrest and extradition of Tomas Zeron, the former head of the national criminal investigation agency, who has reportedly fled to Israel and is accused of torturing the alleged culprits and inventing evidence to create the “historic truth” theory and shutting down the case. EFE-EPA