Mexico's 43 missing students: What happened to the main characters?

Thursday 27 October 2022

Half an hour's drive from the small and quiet town of Cucula, Mexico, a garbage dump is said to be the final resting place of the 43 students who protested on September 26, 2014. I was going back to my home after participating.
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Amidst the discarded plastic and everyday trash and debris, that's where Mexican government officials say people from the Guerreras Unidos, or "United Warriors," set 43 students on fire. was buried after

All these students belonged to a rural institution 'Ayutzi Napa Rural Teachers College. In fact, these students were arrested by the police from a nearby town and handed over to the goons of the 'United Fighters'.

However, by 2016, impartial and independent sources had debunked the government's story that the students were killed and dumped in a garbage dump. According to independent sources, it was the biggest "false story" in Mexican history, the story of a country where corruption was embedded in all institutions of government and beatings were common.

Eight years later, the remains of only three students have been identified. After years of intense public pressure, the country's current president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has created a commission to investigate the killing of the students, calling it a "crime of the state".

According to the commission, in addition to gangsters, soldiers, local government officials, and federal government officials were also involved in this incident and its fabric meets the highest figures of the government.

During the periods of the last two governments, people have been constantly protesting that the truth about the incident of students' deaths should be brought before the people.

Eight years after the students' abduction and disappearance, some of the main characters involved in the incident have been arrested, some have turned themselves in, but others are still searching for answers to their questions.

Jesus Merlo Cram, former Attorney General

On August 19 this year, Mexico's biggest public prosecutor, Jesus Merlo Kram, has been detained in the background of this incident.
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When he was the Attorney General in the government of President Eric Peñato, he initiated the formal investigation into the disappearance of the students.

They have now been indicted on charges of the enforced disappearance of students, torture, and obstruction of justice. Mr. López Obrador, who succeeded President Peña Nato as president of Mexico, has said the false arrest of the students following their disappearance is "proof" that Jesus Merlo covered up the case and aimed to target the federal government. The government was to be shielded from any liability.

He told the court on August 24 that although he admits there may be some mistakes in the investigation, no one has yet come forward with any explanation other than the forced abduction of the students. can be believed

Now Jesus Merlo Kram will be prosecuted. Although no court date has been set, the judge has ordered that the former attorney general remains in custody until the trial begins.

Tomas Zeron, former head of the Criminal Investigation Agency

The current government has also accused Tomas Zeron, then head of Mexico's investigative agency, of torturing witnesses to the disappearance of the students, including a member of a guerrilla group, in order to bolster the government's position. was included.

Tomas Zeron is also charged with allegedly tampering with evidence. He denies the allegations and says he is being targeted for political revenge.

In 2019, it was reported that Tomas Zeron had fled to Canada, but in July 2021, Israeli and Mexican authorities said he had fled to Israel, where he had applied for political asylum.

After that, Mexico demanded the extradition of Tomas Zeron from Israel and the Mexican foreign minister said that his return to Mexico is among the top priorities of the current government. So far, Israeli authorities have not responded to Mexico's extradition request.

José Luis Abarca, former mayor of Aguila

Jose Luis Abarca, who became the mayor of Aguila in 2014, fled the town with his wife a few days after the students were kidnapped. A month later, the two were arrested in Mexico City and are now serving prison terms for money laundering and organized crime.

Despite allegations that he was involved in the disappearance of students, some of his family members defend him. Locals even protested for their release last month.

On September 14, a judge acquitted him of the kidnapping of the students based on insufficient evidence, but he faces another trial for money laundering and the murder of two local activists.

Government officials say they will challenge the court decision and have ruled out the possibility of Tomas Zeron's early release.

'Guerres Unides' or 'United Warriors'

The group is accused of killing students by its goons after the kidnapping, but the United Fighters remain a vibrant group.

According to government officials, the group is involved in kidnappings for ransom and extortion in three Mexican provinces. The gang is said to make heroin and smuggle it into the US. The group also reportedly has ties to Mexico's most powerful drug-trafficking group, the Jalisco New Generation.

Earlier in August, Mexican authorities announced that 14 of the group were among a larger group of 83 people wanted in connection with the disappearance of 43 students.

Along with three of their family members, 14 more members of the gang, who were all linked to the death of the students, were killed by the security forces while others succumbed to medical injuries.

Mexican authorities have also been repeatedly accused of torturing suspected gang members to extract confessions.

Another member of the group, Salgado Guzmán, was said to have played a central role in the student kidnappings and was shot dead by police in September 2021. But according to a latest official report, there are several flaws in the government's story about the man's death, which led authorities to conclude that he was already injured when the police shot him.

Mexican Army

The mysterious story of the disappearance of the students in Aguila revolves largely around the role of the Mexican military.

According to government officials, a military informer was traveling with the students and the army was aware of what was happening before the attack on the students. Officials have also said that the army has made no attempt to trace its informant and he is still missing.

In addition, the military has also been accused of withholding information from authorities that could have been helpful in locating the students. In a drone video taken after the incident, some navy personnel can also be seen apparently tampering with the evidence at Kukula's camp.

On September 15, authorities said they had detained Jose Rodriguez Perez, a retired army general, in connection with the case. At the time of the incident, he was a colonel and was posted in Aguila. Apart from them, the authorities have also claimed the arrest of two more army officers.
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Mexico's top human rights organization told the media that a group of gangsters kept six of the kidnapped students in a warehouse and then handed them over to Colonel Jose, who killed them. He ordered them to throw away the dead bodies.

Recently, a total of 20 military personnel have been ordered to be arrested, including the heads of the two units that were deployed in the area at the time of the incident.

Although the Mexican government says the military personnel involved in the incident will be held responsible for human rights abuses, most of the findings in the initial investigation into the case have not been prosecuted.

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