Things That Matter

Authorities Have A New Lead That Might Bring Answers To The Missing Ayotzinapa Students

It’s been five years since 43 students from a teachers’ college in the town of Ayotzinapa suddenly disappeared on Sept. 26, 2014. Their stories and faces have become emblematic of a country where violence and death rates have only risen since. While some have forgotten or given up on finding answers, their families and Mexicans across the country have stood determined to uncover the truth. 

This past week marked the 5th anniversary of this national tragedy but it also marked the latest turn in the case as new information has surfaced. According to the Washington Post, there are new details in the case that have led Mexican authorities to begin working at a new garbage dump where they hope some of the students’ bodies may be. 

The latest lead in the case brings hope that the bodies of the 43 students will finally be found after 5 years. 

The latest lead in the case has led authorities to a dump outside the town of Iguala, Guerrero where former Colombian prosecutor Ángela Buitrago of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights group, said is  “is in the epicenter of the action.”

“We’re waiting for information that they could have obtained in that place because there are various (leads) that have not been investigated,” Felipe de la Cruz, spokesman for the students’ families, told The Washington Post

While the search at the dump began more than a week ago, the results have been mixed. According to the AP, investigators at the site have been able to uncover close to 200 clandestine burial sites and recovered 184 bodies but none of them the students. The found bodies are believed to be victims of drug gangs or kidnappers but so far only 44 have been identified.

Officials say they aren’t done looking at the dump and are still considering it a major location of the case. 

“We will make a comprehensive rethinking of the investigation, correcting the omissions, contradictions, and the lack of evidence that led to the so-called ‘historical truth’,” Alejandro Encinas, Mexico’s undersecretary of human rights who is overseeing the commission looking into the case, told Al-Jezeera. “And those authorities that incurred in omission or illegal practices, as has been proven … such as torture on some of the people detained, will be held responsible.” 

The latest developments in the case come as President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who reopened the case after he was elected last year, said they are looking at new leads in hopes of finally bringing justice. 

Credit: @7Dnews / Twitter

President Lopez Obrador has made the case one of his highest priorities since taking office last year. On the five-year anniversary, he held a press conference with the students’ families and updated them on the new investigation development. Many spoke at the event and demanded justice for the 43 students who many say the Mexican government had forgotten about. 

“I do feel things are progressing, slowly, but progressing,” Omar Garcia Velasquez, a former a spokesman for the 43 missing students’ movement, told Al-Jezeera. “I understand it’s very complicated to start from scratch, and I know the narrative has changed towards the victims and their families. But nevertheless, we will continue with our movement until the case is solved.”

While there are still many questions to be answered on the case, there has been some progress. That includes the creation of new commissions for the case and money rewards for key information that may lead to arrests.  

Credit: @wola_org / Twitter

The country hasn’t been able to move on from the disappearance of the 43 students from the Ayotzinapa teachers’ college. The story behind the case has yet to be conclusively established as many accounts have had various endings and perpetrators behind the kidnappings. Authorities said that the 43 students were detained by corrupt police on the night of September 26, 2014, and were then allegedly handed over to gang members who massacred them by burning their bodies.

The original investigation done by the administration of former President Enrique Peña Nieto has been criticized for it’s ineffectiveness and failure to provide any due process. To this point, no one has ever been convicted in connection to the disappearance of the 43 students. Of the more than 140 people that were originally detained in connection to the case, 77 were released after a judge dismissed many of the cases due to insufficient evidence or reports that some of those detained were tortured to get answers.

Mexican Senator Emilio Alvarez Icaza was the former president of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights at the same when an independent expert group, called GIEI, was founded to collaborate with the Mexican government to look into the case. The GIEI found that there were various contradictions and irregularities in how the previous case was ran. The group also found that a new case should be opened in a completely new direction than the previous. 

“It’s important that the president sends out a clear message that the army will be investigated. Because without it and the increasing militarisation we’re seeing in the country, the message will be that the army is untouchable,” Icaza told Al Jazeera. “This is a case where the credibility and trust of Lopez Obrador’s government are at stake. If this story also ends up in impunity, the public’s outcry will be enormous.”

READ: After Years, A Netflix Documentary Is Digging Into The True Story Behind The Disappearance Of The Ayotzinapa Students

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Mexican Politician Accused Of Rape Vows To Block Elections Unless He’s Allowed To Run

Things That Matter

Mexican Politician Accused Of Rape Vows To Block Elections Unless He’s Allowed To Run

It’s an election year in Mexico and that means that things are heating up as candidates fight for the top spot. At the same time, Mexico is experiencing a burgeoning fight for women’s rights that demands accountability and justice. Despite all the marches and protests and civil disobedience by hundreds of thousands of Mexicans, it remains to be seen how much change will happen and when. 

Case in point: Félix Salgado, a candidate for governor of Guerrero who has been accused of rape and sexual assault but maintains the support of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO). Now, after being disqualified from the race because of undisclosed campaign finances, the candidate is vowing to block any elections from taking place unless he is allowed to continue his campaign. 

A disqualified candidate is vowing to block elections unless he’s allowed to run.

Félix Salgado was running to be governor of the Mexican state of Guerrero when he was faced with allegations of rape and sexual assault. The commission that selects party candidates allowed him to remain in the race and he continues to maintain the support of President AMLO – who is of the same political party, Morena. 

However, in late March, election regulators ordered that Salgado be taken off the ballot due to a failure to report campaign spending, according to the AP. Mexico’s electoral court ordered the Federal Electoral Institute (FEI) to reconsider their decision last week. Salgado is already threatening to throw the election process into chaos.

“If we are on the ballot, there will be elections,” Salgado told supporters in Guerrero after leading a caravan of protestors to the FEI’s office in Mexico City on Sunday. “If we are not on the ballot, there will not be any elections,” Salgado said.

The AP notes that Salgado is not making an empty threat. Guerrero is an embattled state overrun with violence and drug gangs and many elections have been previously disrupted. Past governors have been forced out of office before finishing their terms. Salgado was previously filmed getting into a confrontation with police in 2000.

It was just weeks ago that the ruling party allowed Salgado’s candidacy to move forward.

In mid-March, Morena confirmed that Félix Salgado would be its candidate for governor in Guerrero after completing a new selection process in which the former senator was reportedly pitted against four women.

Morena polled citizens in Guerrero last weekend to determine levels of support for five different possible candidates, according to media reports. Among the four women who were included in the process were Acapulco Mayor Adela Román and Senator Nestora Salgado.

Félix Salgado was the clear winner of the survey, even coming out on top when those polled were asked to opine on the potential candidates’ respect for the rights of women. He also prevailed in all other categories including honesty and knowledge of the municipality in which the poll respondents lived.

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Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

Things That Matter

Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

Mexico City is the oldest surviving capital city in all of the Americas. It also is one of only two that actually served as capitals of their Indigenous communities – the other being Quito, Ecuador. But much of that incredible history is washed over in history books, tourism advertisements, and the everyday hustle and bustle of a city of 21 million people.

Recently, city residents voted on a non-binding resolution that could see the city’s name changed back to it’s pre-Hispanic origin to help shine a light on its rich Indigenous history.

Mexico City could soon be renamed in honor of its pre-Hispanic identity.

A recent poll shows that 54% of chilangos (as residents of Mexico City are called) are in favor of changing the city’s official name from Ciudad de México to México-Tenochtitlán. In contrast, 42% of respondents said they didn’t support a name change while 4% said they they didn’t know.

Conducted earlier this month as Mexico City gears up to mark the 500th anniversary of the fall of the Aztec empire capital with a series of cultural events, the poll also asked respondents if they identified more as Mexicas, as Aztec people were also known, Spanish or mestizo (mixed indigenous and Spanish blood).

Mestizo was the most popular response, with 55% of respondents saying they identified as such while 37% saw themselves more as Mexicas. Only 4% identified as Spaniards and the same percentage said they didn’t know with whom they identified most.

The poll also touched on the city’s history.

The ancient city of Tenochtitlán.

The same poll also asked people if they thought that the 500th anniversary of the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlán by Spanish conquistadoresshould be commemorated or forgotten, 80% chose the former option while just 16% opted for the latter.

Three-quarters of respondents said they preferred areas of the the capital where colonial-era architecture predominates, such as the historic center, while 24% said that they favored zones with modern architecture.

There are also numerous examples of pre-Hispanic architecture in Mexico City including the Templo Mayor, Tlatelolco and Cuicuilco archaeological sites.

Tenochtitlán was one of the world’s most advanced cities when the Spanish arrived.

Tenochtitlán, which means “place where prickly pears abound” in Náhuatl, was founded by the Mexica people in 1325 on an island located on Lake Texcoco. The legend goes that they decided to build a city on the island because they saw the omen they were seeking: an eagle devouring a snake while perched on a nopal.

At its peak, it was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas. It subsequently became a cabecera of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Today, the ruins of Tenochtitlán are in the historic center of the Mexican capital. The World Heritage Site of Xochimilco contains what remains of the geography (water, boats, floating gardens) of the Mexica capital.

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