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Open letter demands justice for 43 disappeared Mexican students

The text of an open letter, published in Spanish and English, released Wednesday to protest what signers say is a lack of Mexican government action to investigate the disappearance of 43 college students, whom are feared to have been executed by drug cartels. The letter has been signed by more than 9,000 professors, students and other academics from around the world, with more adding their names every minute.

October 22, 2014

  • Lic. Enrique Peña Nieto
  • President of the Republic
  • Lic. Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong
  • Secretary of the Interior
  • General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda
  • Secretary of Defense
  • Lic. Emilio Chuayffet Chemor
  • Secretary of Education
  • Lic. Jesús Murillo Karam
  • Attorney General of the Republic
  • Lic. Ángel Heladio Aguirre Rivero
  • Governor of the State of Guerrero
  • Dip. Silvano Aureoles Conejo
  • President of the Congress
  • Sen. Miguel Barbosa Huerta
  • President of the Senate
  • Ministro Juan N. Silva Meza
  • President of the Supreme Court of the Nation
  • Dr. Raúl Plascencia Villanueva
  • President of the National Commission for Human Rights

To all Mexicans,

To all those outside of Mexico who are following the recent violent events there,

To the general public,

To the 43 disappeared students of Ayotzinapa, to their families, friends and colleague,

We scholars, students and academics from Mexico and elsewhere who live and work outside of Mexico join the voices of concern and distress for the violence that prevails in Mexico. The events that took place in Iguala on September 26, 2014 are one of the most deplorable moments in the country's history. There are no words to express the horror and fury that we feel at the murder of six people, three of them students at the "Raúl Isidro Burgos" Normal School in Ayotzinapa (one of them by the most savage of means), and by the disappearance, at the hands of the government and the local police, of another 43 students.

We express our solidarity with the demands for justice being expressed and we share in the pain of the families, friends and colleagues of the Ayotzinapa students. We are profoundly indignant at the magnitude of the events and the fact that the Mexican government has offered contradictory statements and presented results that are not only meaningless but actually quite worrisome: the irregularities of the investigation grow by the day without shedding any light on the capture of the perpetrators or the whereabouts of the 43 students and, instead, more mass graves are discovered and many more bodies found. What is the size and number of mass graves in this country, how many more bodies fit in them, how many await the same fate?

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As of this date, neither the names of those captured nor the direction of the investigation have been revealed. The delays in the investigation and the apparent negligence with which it is being carried out are truly deplorable. The authorities themselves are obstructing the participation of a group of Argentine forensic experts who are specialized in identifying cadavers, and the parents of the disappeared have taken on, on their own, all the practical aspects of the search. If what happened is in itself horrendous, the general attitude of the government agencies is an affront to any sense of humanity and to the intelligence of those of us who observe from a distance. We are appalled at the manner in which the Mexican authorities have treated this group of students, some of the most vulnerable ones in the country.

The reality that Mexico is displaying before the world is truly disheartening. The Iguala case, added to the many other events of the last few months, have made it clear that it is no longer possible to speak of common criminals but rather of the criminality of government representatives at the local, state, and federal levels, who either by direct action or by failure to act allowed this to happen and seem unable or unwilling to do what's necessary to resolve the matter and restore confidence in the government itself. We do not understand how it is possible that the governor of Guerrero hasn't resigned yet and that the federal authorities apparently have no problem with this situation. We all know that the governor was apprised of the events developing in Iguala–he himself declared as much, and he asserted that the army and the federal Attorney General knew of them as well. We therefore ask ourselves, what other cases of collusion between governments and organized crime, cases that no state in which the rule of law prevails could tolerate, have come to the attention of the authorities?

We write because Mexico and its people deserve better, much better: a true state of justice and law. No government can permit itself to perform nor allow others to perform such acts of savagery as those that took place in Ayotzinapa.

For the above reasons we demand:

  • The return of the 43 students, alive.
  • An end to the retaliation and harassment of the students from the Escuela Normal de Ayotzinapa, and students in general.
  • That mayor José Luis Abarca and his wife María de los Ángeles Pineda Villa be immediately arrested, tried, and punished within the framework of the law.
  • The resignation of Lic. Jesús Murillo Karam, Attorney General of the Mexican Republic, if it were proven that he had knowledge of the illegal actions of mayor Abarca and did not act on this knowledge.
  • The immediate resignation of Angel Aguirre Rivero, Governor of Guerrero, and also that of Lic. Iñaki Cabrera White, Attorney General of the same state, and all members of the Army who have known, concealed or participated in these actions.
  • A thorough, reliable, true, and transparent investigation of the events, involving the participation of experts and international observers, like the Equipo Argentino de Antropología Forense.

We will not relax, nor will we cease our protests. We will continue to pay attention to these events and to expand communication and information networks among colleagues, students, and friends in Mexico and abroad. We cannot allow history to repeat itself; we cannot allow events like the 1968 Student Movement massacre or the persecution and annihilation of rural populations in places like Acteal and Aguas Blancas to happen again. With Ayotzinapa a line has been crossed that should never have been crossed. We express our indignation and extend our solidarity to the Mexican education students and their families.

We hope that the 43 disappeared students will be able to read this letter someday as well. It is to them that we write it, but also to all those who are buried in the secret mass graves that are constantly being discovered, to all those who deserve much more than letters and protests. They deserve the full efforts of the Mexican government and its citizens at home and abroad. We must assume our responsibility in the face of this unacceptable situation and tirelessly demand justice, a state that is truly based on the rule of law, a government devoted to the service and protection of its citizens, and complete transparency in the actions of government officials and representatives. Each person who has been disappeared or killed by criminals, the military, or the police represents an immeasurable loss for this country. Ayotzinapa has profoundly affected all of us who have signed this letter. It is for them and for ourselves that we demand justice.

They were taken alive and we demand they be returned alive!

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