A Year After Students Disappeared, Mexico’s Judiciary Still Weak as Ever

A Year After Students Disappeared, Mexico’s Judiciary Still Weak as Ever
Relatives of the 43 missing Ayotzinapa teachers' college students lead a march marking the one-year anniversary of the students' disappearances, Chilpancingo, Mexico, Sept. 26, 2015 (AP photo by Rebecca Blackwell).

A year after 43 rural college students were forcibly disappeared in southern Mexico, human rights activists, teachers unions and university students have again taken to the streets to demand justice. For many, the tragedy—known as Ayotzinapa, after the name of the teachers’ college the students attended—has become symbolic of the violence and impunity afflicting Mexico as a whole. Earlier this month, a long-awaited report by the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights cast doubts on the official version of events and pointed to extraordinary deficiencies in the investigation carried out by the federal government.

On Sept. 26, 2014, nearly 100 young men from the impoverished Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College—whose students regularly demonstrated against corruption and inequality—arrived in the city of Iguala, in the state of Guerrero. There they hijacked private buses as part of a plan to make their way to Mexico City where they hoped to join an annual protest march. Instead, the students were pursued by municipal police officers and 43 of them vanished. Mexico’s attorney general claimed that the local police turned the students over to cartel gunmen who murdered them and incinerated their remains at a local garbage dump.

Theories about the motive for the abduction range from the students mistakenly hijacking a bus carrying heroin to one or more of the students belonging to a rival drug cartel. Iguala’s mayor, Jose Luis Abarca, who was arrested by federal authorities in November and accused of masterminding the attack, has yet to stand trial.

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