Yesterday Mexican Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam announced at a press conference that officials believe they have found the remains of the 43 normalistas from Ayotzinapa.
The basic story the government has put forth is that police turned the students over to Guerreros Unidos, a local drug gang with ties to the former mayor of Iguala and his wife (who officials recently apprehended). Members of Guerreros Unidos killed the students, chopped up their bodies, added branches and trash to the pile, and then doused it in gasoline and set it aflame. They kept the fire burning for more than twelve hours, until all that remained was ash, some teeth that “turned to powder” when touched, and some bone fragments. Three of the men who supposedly carried out this heinous, unthinkable crime provided information that helped authorities recover black plastic garbage bags filled with human remains.
It is not yet clear whether or not the remains in those bags are those of the 43 normalistas. The students’ families do not believe the government–with good reason, based on history and how the investigation has gone thus far–and demand proof. (A special lab in Austria is supposed to test the remains in hopes of providing a conclusive answer.)
At yesterday’s press conference journalists peppered Murillo Karam with questions about the government’s latest story about what happened to the 43 normalistas. A weary Murillo Karam, hunched over the podium, answered some questions, but was dismissive of many others, and finally, in an attempt to cut the press conference short, said, “Ya me cansé.” (I’m tired.)
Mexican citizens and others responded immediately, with outrage, on social media and in the streets. People on Twitter used the #YaMeCansé hashtag to share what they are tired of: corrupt government, impunity, indifference, inept politicians, complicit media outlets, violence, poverty, inequality, the failed Mexican state … the list goes on, and on, and on. And last night, outside the Procuraduría General de la República (Murillo Karam’s office), someone painted “#YaMeCanse Del Miedo.” (I’m tired of being afraid.) Tonight a mass march, from the PGR to the Zócalo, is scheduled for 8pm.
Murillo Karam may be tired, but many questions remain, and it is his job as Attorney General to answer them. He, along with Mexican and US officials–including President Peña Nieto and President Obama, need to be held accountable. The families of the 43 normalistas demand and deserve answers. The Mexican people demand and deserve answers. Concerned people around the world demand and deserve answers. I demand answers to the following questions:
- What happened to the 43 normalistas is obviously not an isolated incident, nor a lone act committed by a few “monstrous” individuals. There are the 72 migrants killed in the San Fernando Massacre of 2010, the unsolved murders of dozens of journalists, and all of the bodies that have turned up in mass graves while searching for the normalistas–just to name a few examples. Yesterday Murrillo Karam denied this was a state crime, but the state — we must not forget the 71 years of continuous PRI rule in the 20th century and the party’s return to power in 2012 — has played an important role in creating the political culture where something like this can happen; in creating a Mexico in which corruption runs deep through all levels of government and impunity reigns. It’s hard to imagine a Mexico free of corruption and impunity, but maybe things can improve. What concrete actions does the Mexican government need to take to make things better to the point where it would make a difference, and to ensure nothing like Ayotzinapa ever happens again?
- The drug war implemented under former Mexican President Felipe Calderón–with the support of the United States through the Merida Initiative–has unquestionably failed, with disastrous consequences for the Mexican people. More than 100,000 have been killed and, in addition to the 43 normalistas, an estimated 22,000 or more have been disappeared. Up until Ayotzinapa, the Peña Nieto administration has ignored the drug war and focused on promoting Mexico as an economic success story instead. This, of course, has done nothing to reduce or eliminate the ongoing violence and killings. But ignoring a problem does not make it disappear; even though the drug war failed, pretending it does not still exist is no solution. So what’s the way forward? Given the US’s involvement in creating the situation in the first place — by providing a market for drugs north of the border, sending guns south of the border, and funding the drug war through the Merida Initiative — what role should it and the rest of the international community play, and what responsibility does it have, in forging the way ahead?
I hope you’ll add your questions, in Spanish or English, in the comments section below. We demand answers. We deserve answers.
Cross-posted at Frontera List and Tropics of Meta.