Mexico has sworn in their newest president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has vowed to bring an end to corruption, chronic poverty, and extreme violence that have plagued the country. One of his first acts as president will be creating a truth commission on to re-examine the case of 43 students whose disappearance in 2014. The case has come to represent the countless Mexicans who’ve vanished in a decade-long drug war. The Mexican people have been demnading answers for years and López Obrador is promising answers.
The 2014 case of missing students has come to symbolize the violence and corruption that has been seen throughout Mexico for over a decade.
#Mexico’s newly-inaugurated president Andrés Manuel López Obrador has ordered the creation of a truth commission to investigate the 2014 #kidnapping and presumed murder of 43 missing #students https://t.co/1AzHbiZAns (Photo:AP) pic.twitter.com/p4OHaHZofi
— Francine LeFrak (@FrancineLeFrak) December 4, 2018
The 43 students, who were studying to be teachers, disappeared in September 2014 from the city of Iguala after local police attacked the buses they were riding on their way to a protest. Survivors say police started shooting at unarmed students. The government of then-President Enrique Peña Nieto claimed that the students were handed over to a local drug gang, Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors), which killed and burned their bodies in a garbage dump.
Yet the Mexican government didn’t provide sufficient evidence to prove their claims. An international team of forensic scientists also contradicted the government report, stating that suspects had been tortured to obtain testimonies. In total, six people were fatally shot and 43 student teachers haven’t been found. To this day the remains of only one student have been identified. The murders have become a symbol of the corruption, dangers, and widespread disappearances throughout Mexico.
One of President López Obrador campaign promises is to re-examine the 2014 incident and has vowed to stop this type of senseless violence.
VIDEO: Newly installed Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador meets with the parents of 43 missing students as he launches a new commission to investigate the internationally condemned disappearance in 2014 as part of his "transformation" of Mexico pic.twitter.com/XczhpQOZQI
— AFP news agency (@AFP) December 4, 2018
At a press conference, President López Obrador posed with the parents of the missing students, who displayed photos of their young ones, and promised an end to impunity and begin a wide-ranging investigation.
“The whole government is going to help with this plan and I can assure you that there will be no impunity either in this sad and painful case or in any other,” he told reporters.
The commission will include the parents of the 43 students, their lawyers and representatives from the interior, foreign and finance ministries, along with experts for the investigation. The commission will be led by Deputy Secretary Alejandro Encinas, who is Mexico’s sub-secretary for human rights as well as migration. The commission will begin a new investigation under a special prosecutor’s and will look at all leads, including those that were ignored by the former Mexican government.
Grieving families spoke up at the news conference about how the election of President López Obrador gives hope.
I applaud Mexico's president @lopezobrador_ for creating a truth and justice commission regarding the #Ayotzinapa missing 43 students. I’ve met with the families – they want answers and deserve justice. We won’t stop working for them. https://t.co/rMZEnYvWNM
— Rep. Alan Lowenthal (@RepLowenthal) December 5, 2018
The truth commission will shine new light on the 4-year-old unsolved case that has left many families looking for answers. These families say they’ve been let down by the former Mexican government by not fully investigating the case and not using all available evidence.
“We ask you [López Obrador], as a father, to help us, to pull us out of this dumpster where Peña Nieto left us, and for you to gain the trust of all Mexicans, because we don’t trust anyone anymore,” María Martínez, the mother of one of the missing students, told Mexico Daily News. “We ask the rest of the country to put themselves in our shoes for just one day, for them to feel what it is to have a loved one missing, It’s not only our 43, there are thousands of other families suffering.”
The truth commission will be one of President López Obrador’s first orders but it might also be one of his most important.
#Mexican President #AndresManuel #LopezObrador set up a commission on Monday tasked with determining what happened to 43 missing and presumed killed students, which could investigate soldiers over the events in 2014 that still haunt the country. #MNA_English #MNA #Anglophones pic.twitter.com/j7jsWEkqft
— M N A (@mnaEN) December 4, 2018
For many Mexicans, the truth commission represents part of a new chapter in Mexico, where leadership has deceived and let down many for some time. President López Obrador was elected off a wave of anger about violence and corruption and has already fulfilled one of his campaigns promises to create the commission. Whether any of these families find any answers or clues to what happened to their loved ones is another question.
“I hope that we will soon know the truth. That there’s justice and an example is set so never again human rights are violated in our country,” Pres. Lopez Obrador said at the press conference. “So that no other Mexican suffers the disappearance of their children.”