10 Things To Understand The Ayotzinapa Students Conflict In Mexico

missing ayotzinapa students
Cempasuchil petals form human-shaped outlines on the ground beside lit candles and a placard during an event held in remembrances of the 43 missing student teachers from the Ayotzinapa. REUTERS/Henry Romero

Contrary to what the people of Mexico expected, the case of the 43 missing students has been getting more complicated as the investigations continue to advance. Contradictions and skepticism about the government have forced the police to bring in external support such as forensic experts from Argentina, when the mass graves were found, and now, after the students were declared dead and witnesses stated the bodies were burned, the government called DNA experts from Austria to further analyze the ashes and whatever else is found at the site.

1. How It Started: The student teachers from Ayotzinapa had already had a few encounters with the government of Guerrero where they blocked the highways and ransacked local businesses in protest. In this case, last September 26, dozens of ‘normalistas’ (student teachers), took several buses to Iguala and after a violent encounter with the police, 43 of the students were allegedly taken to the police headquarters and that was the last anyone heard of them. The government claimed the students where there to boycott a political event, but the students claim they were there to raise funds for their school.

2. The Search Begins: when the news broke, thousands of people in the state of Guerrero began peaceful protests demanding the safe return of the students. “You took them alive, we want them back alive,” was eventually what the protesters said. Two days after the encounter 22 policemen from the town of Iguala were arrested.

3. Mass Graves: From October 4, random mass graves have been found with approximately 38 bodies and authorities have reported that at least 30 of the cadavers do not belong to any of the missing students.

4. “Guerreros Unidos”: Is the name of the gang or cartel, which the government has appointed as responsible for the disappearance (or feared execution) of the 43 students. On October 20th, the supposed leader of Guerreros Unidos, Sidronio Casarrubias Salgado, was captured. Mexico’s Attorney General, Jesus Murillo Karam, stated they had already arrested another 17 police officers and 36 other members of such cartel.

5. Peña Nieto Meets The Parents: Needless to say the President has been criticized for taking little to no action at the time of the disappearance. So much so, that Peña Nieto extended an invitation for the parents of the missing students to go visit him at the presidential residence, instead of going to see them himself. The desperate parents accepted the invitations and complained to the President in person. Peña signed contracts to increase the pressure of the investigations and promised to support normal rural schools further.

6. Politicians of Guerrero: So far a number of politicians have been ordered to stepped down from their positions, and members of the same political party have had to issue apologies in having chosen the wrong candidates to represent them throughout the state. This of course includes the now-infamous mayor if Iguala, Luis Abarca and his wife María de los Ángeles Pineda, who were fugitives since the students went missing. The couple was arrested in the neighborhood of Izatapalapa in Mexico City last November 4. The ‘Imperial Couple’ is being held responsible for ordering the attack on the students, amongst many other corruption and violence charges.

7. The World Is Watching: Needless to say, such events in Mexico have caused outrage around the world and governments and diplomats have expressed their sympathies and indignation for what is happening in the country. Boston students created a video, which is going around the world, demanding justice from the government too.

8. Mass Protests: In an attempt to demand answers and justice from the government, the people of Guerrero participated in a march to the capital of the state, Chilpancingo, which ended in violence towards the governmental buildings of the city. Other large protests have included four marches in Mexico City: the first two on October 8 and 22, the third one on November 5, and the fourth one, organized to express outrage about the attorney general’s press conference,  took place on Saturday November 8.

9. Attorney General’s Press Conference: Last Friday, November 7, Mexico’s attorney general, Murillo Karam stated that the investigations had found the students abducted by the police after Luis Abarca ordered it, are believed to have been turned over to “Guerreros Unidos” (or a local gang, as was stated) to kill them and burn their bodies before the remains were thrown into a river in trash bags. At the end of a long series of questions from the press, Murillo Karam decided to end the conference saying, “I’m tired already.” The phrase caused an immediate social media frenzy with the hashtag #yamecansé.

10. The Reactions: After learning that the students are allegedly dead and external DNA experts will test the remains, most of the students’ parents remain skeptical and say they will not believe it until the investigation has been completed. Celebrities have joined the cause and expressed their sadness and anger towards their country's situation. Adding to the outrage is the fact that President Enrique Peña Nieto has been in China for over a week during these critical times for Mexico.

What do you think?
Natalie Roterman
Natalie Roterman

Natalie (from Mexico) joined Latin Times back in 2014 and she is all about pop culture and entertainment. She also has a genetic love for food and traveling. Follow her and get the scoop on the biggest upcoming films and TV shows, plus interviews with your favorite stars that you won’t want to miss. When she’s not writing for Latin Times, she’s either filming her next episode of “El Show de Natalie,” at a movie theater, binge-watching a new TV series, or planning her next meal.

Join the Discussion