South America

On 8th anniversary of Mexican students’ disappearance, a father still wants answers

When Antonio Tizapa’s 20-year-old son, Jorge Antonio Tizapa Legideño, disappeared with 42 different classmates from a rural trainer’s school in southwest Mexico on Sept. 26, 2014, he thought they might come house quickly. 

“Through the first week, the primary month, the primary quarter, the primary yr, I saved making my very own calculations,” he instructed NBC Information in an interview. “There are round 150 kilometers from Iguala to Ayotzinapa. There are a lot of individuals alongside the way in which. Perhaps they’re scared. However they will come house. And now, eight years later, they haven’t arrived. They haven’t arrived.” 

One month earlier than the eight-year anniversary, a reality fee led by the Mexican authorities mentioned that six out of the 43 lacking college students had been allegedly saved alive for days after which handed over to a Mexican military commander at a base in Iguala who ordered their execution.  

In 2014, the Mexican authorities initially reported that 43 college students from Ayotzinapa Academics Faculty who had commandeered some buses to go to a protest in Mexico Metropolis had been arrested on Sept. 26 by police in Iguala, then turned over to drug traffickers who killed and incinerated them at a rubbish dump. 

The Ayotzinapa dad and mom, together with Tizapa, rejected Mexico’s official account. An unbiased report in 2015 from the Inter-American Fee on Human Rights additionally backed their place, concluding that there wasn’t proof to assist the incineration of the 43 lacking college students on the dump. 

On Aug. 20, 2022, Mexico’s former lawyer normal Jesús Murillo Karam, who had introduced the 2014 account of the Ayotzinapa case, was charged with compelled disappearance, torture and obstruction of justice in reference to the 43 college students. 

Antonio Tizapa at Metropolis College of New York on March 18, 2015.Claudia Torrens / AP file

However, regardless of all these current developments, Tizapa mentioned there have not been any conclusive breakthroughs within the case. 

 “Eight years later, we’re nonetheless discovering out many issues. However we nonetheless don’t know the place our kids are,” he mentioned. “Some issues haven’t been delivered to gentle. And different proof has disappeared. However now we have not stopped combating. We proceed marching. We proceed organizing rallies. We now have legal professionals pushing for justice.” 

Tizapa mentioned that since his son disappeared, his life is in some ways nonetheless caught on Sept. 26, 2014. However when he seems at his circle of relatives, he can see that point is transferring ahead. 

“My youngest son graduated lately from the trainer’s school. And my daughter, who’s the oldest, is attending a girl’s trainer’s school,” he mentioned. “Jorge now has an 8-year-old daughter in Florida. She was solely round 2 months outdated when her father disappeared.” 

On Sept. 15, Mexico’s assistant public security secretary, Ricardo Mejía, introduced the arrest of retired normal José Rodríguez Pérez, together with different members of the Mexican military, in reference to the disappearance of the scholars. Rodríguez Pérez was the commander of the Iguala base in 2014. 

The Ayotzinapa dad and mom have fought with the Mexican authorities to uncover the involvement of the army within the case. And Tizapa says that the federal government must push loads additional to ship justice.  

“If I’m a member of the army, I serve the state. Subsequently, my superiors have an enormous duty. And if I commit against the law, then they’re additionally accountable. We all know that the army was concerned and the one who was in cost was Mr. Cienfuegos,” he mentioned, referring to Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, who was the Mexican protection secretary in 2014. “And Mr. Cienfuegos can’t be touched.” 

Placing the army on trial in Mexico  

Cienfuegos Zepeda was arrested in Los Angeles on drug trafficking and cash laundering prices in October 2020. However he was launched into Mexican custody one month later by the Trump administration. 

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador dismissed the U.S. prices, saying that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Company had “fabricated” accusations towards the overall. 

However for human rights advocates and international coverage specialists, the Cienfuegos case exhibits that placing members of the Mexican armed forces on trial may be troublesome, particularly after they’ve taken an expanded function in civilian life. 

“Beneath López Obrador we’re seeing the continued use of the armed forces as the principle safety power,” mentioned Maureen Meyer, vp for packages on the Washington-based advocacy and analysis group WOLA. She is an professional on human rights and social justice coverage in Mexico and Latin America. 

Meyer says that López Obrador can also be doing one thing that wasn’t seen beneath Mexico’s former president Enrique Peña Nieto, which is giving the army lots of management over different civilian duties that embrace constructing and directing the brand new airport in Mexico Metropolis, developing improvement banks and taking on customs and ports. 

“This isn’t only a militarization of public safety, it’s a militarism of elements of Mexican civilian life,” she mentioned.  

Meyer explains that eight years in the past, the Ayotzinapa college students had been a mass disappearance case that make clear the nationwide disaster of disappeared individuals in Mexico since 2006 and its human rights violations. 

Now she says the info of the case have change into more and more troublesome to unravel due to the federal government’s mishandling at the start. And it’s additional compromised by the deaths or murders of a minimum of 23 people prior to now eight years who might have had details about the case.  

Since 2014, the scholars haven’t been discovered. Meyer says the stays of solely three of the scholars have been recognized and households are caught with out solutions.

Like Tizapa, Meyer underlines the final word query: Will the Mexican justice system have sufficient stable proof to result in a conviction, or will it arrange scholar households for one more disappointment? 

 “There have been plenty of individuals accused of crimes on this case and have been let go both for the dearth of proof or as a result of the proof was obtained illegally via torture,” she mentioned. 

Meyer believes that López Obrador’s authorities can be examined on whether or not it could convict retired normal Rodríguez Pérez and different army members accused of human rights violations and wrongdoings on this case. 

“On the one hand, what the federal government is attempting to point out with the arrests of army members is that nobody can keep in impunity in Mexico, that they may maintain troopers accountable. However there are lots of different members of the army who haven’t been investigated for this case.” 

Like Tizapa, Meyer additionally maintains that Cienfuegos is vital to uncovering the reality.  

“In case you’re wanting on the chain of command in any of those human rights circumstances, who knew what and when turns into necessary. So with Cienfuegos, being the secretary of [national] protection on the time, what he knew is necessary,” she mentioned.  

When requested what he would say to López Obrador, Tizapa mentioned he would merely comply with up on what grew to become a publicized encounter between him and the presidential candidate on the time, when Tizapa confronted him about Ayotzinapa and López Obrador mentioned to ask the army after which president Peña Nieto.

On Sept. 26, Tizapa says activists and athletes will come collectively in New York as they’ve completed prior to now and run one kilometer for every lacking scholar, totaling nearly 27 miles.

As a part of the eight-year anniversary, they may also congregate on the park in entrance of the United Nations after which march to the Israeli Consulate to demand the extradition of Tomás Zerón de Lucio, the previous director of Mexico’s FBI equal, accused of tampering with proof within the Ayotzinapa case. Then they may head to the Mexican consulate earlier than ending with an ancestral dance at Occasions Sq. that Tizapa says will ship vitality to their kids. 

Comply with NBC Latino on FbTwitter and Instagram.

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