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Mexico. A panel of independent experts released a report concluding that state officials lied about the disappearance of 43 students in 2014.

Mexicans protest as investigators reveal government lies over ‘the 43’

A 608-page document sheds new light on the disappearance of 43 students in Iguala, Mexico. An interdisciplinary group of independent experts (GIEI) — a body of the Organization of American States (OAS) — delivered to the government the second report of an investigation that refutes the official version of events. According to their findings, the “normalistas” [education students] of the Ayotzinapa rural school, attacked by the combined actions of the police and drug traffickers during a protest against the government on Sept. 26, 2014, were not burned at the Cocula landfill. There is no evidence.

A fire of such proportions would have required days of work and a huge amount of fuel, and it was not noticed or detected — the experts had already concluded that.

Now, the GIEI shows that the authorities have built their own version based on statements extracted under torture, a common practice in Mexico. Since 2007, the Attorney General’s Office has recorded more than 370 cases, most of them carried out by military and federal police. And the GIEI focuses its accusations on the police and military, denouncing omissions and false leads provided by the authorities. Almost 80 percent of detainees for the incident at Iguala present signs of torture, and the medical evaluations have not been carried out according to the protocols provided.

The 43 students disappeared after being arrested by the Iguala police, in the Guerrero state. They had been stopped for seizing municipal buses (a frequent form of protest). First, the students were shot at with firearms, and the outcome was six dead and at least 25 wounded. And then, based on many testimonies, experts speculate the presence of a fifth bus, perhaps loaded with drugs for the U.S., or large amounts of dirty money, never considered.

During all these months, the GIEI has pursued the investigation of this hypothesis, but ran into a wall of silence and omissions: After more than 900 requests addressed to the government, only 50 percent have been heard.

Yet, the evidence produced by the independent counter-inquiry are not insignificant. Among the most sensational, the cell phones of some students, allegedly burned along with their bodies, instead continued to function long after their alleged killing in the landfill. A boy phoned her mother asking her to recharge his balance. Other cell phones remained active and traceable. One of the hypotheses, raised by the family and by the movements, was that the youths were transported to military barracks, which are used for torture and even, according to some witnesses, cremations.

The experts have collected irrefutable evidence of the presence of the Guerrero state police, federal police and the Army Battalion 27 before the disappearance of the 43 students and during attacks on other students who participated in the protest. According to the report, a federal agent was in contact with the police chief of Iguala, Felipe Flores Velazquez, who is still a fugitive. The Mexican government has denied any collaboration and denied the extension of the stay of the investigative committee for another six months. Experts also complain about the continual attempts to discredit their work.

Family members of the disappeared called for a demonstration today. They thanked the independent experts and accused the government of continuing to lie to conceal a state crime. “Murderer,” they yelled at the President Henrique Peña Nieto. According to official figures, from 2007 to the end of last year, there have been a total of 27,659 disappeared in Mexico. However, a new law on enforced disappearances, which has been under discussion for over a year, is stagnating.

On Monday, tens of thousands of people demonstrated in the Mexican capital and in other 40 cities of the country to protest against domestic and cultural violence against women, with the slogan “We want them to live” and “We want to live.” The march in Guadalajara, capital of Jalisco state, was especially significant. In the past three years, there were 111 femicides, 1,612 complaints of rape and, in 2015 alone, 8,482 complaints of domestic violence against women. In Mexico, every day six women are killed.

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