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Ayotzinapa: Classist and Racist Terror


by Carlos Fazio

Ayotzinapa: Classist and Racist Terror

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It was a crime of the State. The events of Iguala, where six people were killed, three of them students; twenty were injured –one of them with brain death- and 43 young students of the Normal Rural School for Teachers “Raul Isidro Burgos” of Ayotzinapa were detained and forcibly disappeared, constitute crimes against humanity.
The attacks, one after the other, by municipal police and a group of armed civilians against the students, the extra-judicial executions, the mass forced disappearances and torture, the mutilation and death of Julio Cesar Fuentes, who, like in the times of the Dirty War (Guerra Sucia), had his eyes and facial skin removed, was all a well-planned act of barbary, ordered and executed deliberately. It wasn’t caused by an absence of the State, nor was it an isolated incident. It is part of the systematic persecution, harassment, and classist and racist stigmatization, by all three levels of government (federal, provincial and municipal), against the normalista students.   
On duty state police acted with a total lack of respect for human rights, violating the right to life of three of their victims, one of them having been previously tortured in a vicious manner. Furthermore, the 43 disappeared students were arrested by State agents who used physical violence and transferred the detainees in official police cars. They later denied the facts and refused to disclose the whereabouts of the students, which constitutes the crime of forced disappearance.
According to Article 149 bis of the Federal Criminal Code, the crime of genocide can also be found to be present, due to the fact that a distinct national group (the students of the Normal Rural School of Ayotzinapa) was discriminately targeted for elimination. Furthermore, the students have long been harassed in a systematic, continuous and prolonged way by the mass media, with government agents planning and committing the crimes in question.
Here, it is worth mentioning that on December 12, 2011, two students at that same school were summarily executed at the El Sol Highway in Chilpancingo, Guerrero. Four more were wounded and 24 were tortured and subjected to cruel and degrading treatment by police agents. At that same place, the student Gerardo Torres was arrested and held incommunicado before being transferred to a safe house in Zupango, were he was stripped of his clothes and tortured. Later, with the intention of creating a scapegoat, he was given an AK-47 rifle and forced to shoot so as to leave traces of gun powder on his hands; this in order to accuse him of of having killed his two school mates.
On that occasion, there was found to have been excessive use of coercive force and of firearms by the State. That is, the State acted outside the margins of established anti-riot protocol and used restricted firearms to deal with a public demonstration. Two agents indicted in the two homicides are free today.
Two and a half years later, there is enough testimonial evidence to reveal widespread contempt and criminal hate towards the Ayotzinapa students among the police officers and military personnel of Guerrero. Now like then, and like many times since the massacre of Tlatelolco in 1968, we are seeing a joint action by State agents and death squads whose mission is to eliminate all opposition to the dominant regime.
The use of forced disappearances as a repressive instrument of the institutions of power is not the result of some excessive behavior by particular out-of-control groups, but a repressive technique adopted in a rational and centralized manner with the purpose, among others, of spreading terror.
Considering the seriousness of the situation and the attention it has received worldwide, the Peña Nieto government is experiencing a deep crisis due to pressure by the UN, the OAS, the US State Department, the European Community and many different humanitarian organizations demanding the 43 detained/disappeared young students be presented alive. State and federal authorities have been filtering the facts before the press, pushing the hypothesis of “organized crime and mass graves," points which are spouted repetitively as a way to guarantee impunity, confuse the evidence and wear out the news story.
It is a perverse scheme that, in the case of Iguala, seeks to phase out responsibilities and to cover up official complicity; it plays with the grief and the dignified rage of the families of the victims and their schoolmates. As the parents of the 43 missing say, “the authorities are seeking dead bodies while what we want is to find our children alive.”
The idea that this situation is the result of an isolated action by a group of police officers acting without permission is simply not credible. From the outset, it would seem most suspicious to consider that Guerrero Seguro's chain of command (in which the Army, Navy, Federal police, and General Attorney all participate) was not involved. Or even that the escape of Iguala’s police chief, Francisco Salgado Valladares and his boss, Iguala’s mayor, Jose Luis Abarca, was unassisted by them. Conveniently, everyone now says they knew all along of the mayor's ties to the criminal group, Guerreros Unidos.
16 out of 22 municipal police officers who were examined came out positive in a sodium Rhodizonate test -which is to say they fired their weapons- and could well have perpetrated the killings. It is yet to be known who the masterminds were, as well as what the motives behind the crimes were, including the 43 forced detention/disappearances. 
According to Vidulfo Rosales, a lawyer at the Tlachinollan Human Rights Centre, the ministerial authorities in charge of the investigations did not act in a professional and prompt manner to gather the information needed to locate the missing youth. Agents from the Public Ministry acted negligently and insensitively and could well be considered accomplices in the manipulation of evidence and the confusion of facts. Amnesty International deemed the judicial investigation "chaotic and hostile" toward the family members and schoolmates of the victims. This hostility was also directed toward the expert team of forensic investigators from Argentina, which family and students have trusted as the only reliable mechanism of certainty in the effort to identify their relatives were they to be found dead.
It is worth reiterating that the excessive use of coercive force was directed by the State. The implication of the aforementioned chain of command must be insisted on. The events occurred in the presence of state and federal police, as well as agents of CISEN (which can be seen as the politically aligned police force of the regime.) There were also members there of the 27th Infantry Battalion, which belongs to the 35th military zone. Notably, the Third Battalion, a special-forces unit that is mainly in charge of intelligence gathering was also there. Both battalions have their barracks in Iguala.
Moreover, if what the governor of Guerrero, Angel Aguirre Rivero, publicly stated is true, namely that he had previously (before September 26th) informed the Army, CISEN, and the Attorney General of the links between the mayor Jose Luis Abarca and the drug cartel known as Guerreros Unidos, then the Assistant Attorney General's Office for Special Investigations on Organized Crime (SEIDO, in its spanish acronym) should have been watching that municipality closely.
In view of all the inconsistencies and gaps in the official story, it is important to point out that, between the first and second shooting there was a three hour interval, plenty of time for the Army to have intervened to prevent further violence. The reasons behind the army's behavior remain unknown. Student Omar Garcia, who was there on the night of the shootings, denounced the actions of military personnel and described how they held the normalistas captive after having opened fire on them. Garcia told of how, when he and others took student Edgar Andres Vargas to Cristina Hospital to be treated for a shot wound on his mouth, soldiers to arrived immediately, yelling at the students, aiming their rifles, subjecting them with violence and confiscating their cell phones. The soldiers prohibited the doctor from attending to the wounded student.
In Guerrero the army has control of the territory. It acts under the doctrine of counter-insurgency -that is to say, within the logic of an "internal enemy." The army is obsessed with the presence of guerrilla groups. It is clear that the military chain of command is responsible for the actions of police and military groups in Iguala. These events expose once again how the State partially delegates its monopoly on the use of force to paramilitary or organized crime groups.
Some signs suggest that this is a great act of provocation. It may be the case that a major crime was committed to cover up another one, that of Tlatlaya, where 22 people were extra-judicially executed by the army. Since 2006, the armed forces have been eliminating internal enemies within the framework of a de facto state of exception. The events of Iguala confirm the rule that it was a State crime. The Ministry of national Defence lied in the case of Tlatlaya in recent months. They could all be lying now.
In this context, and one of escalating conflict, it is important to remember and emphasize the pain that parents and students are going through: We demand the return with their lives of the 43 detained/disappeared students. We demand punishment to those responsible and support for the Normal Rural Schools, which are facing being closed down due to the education counter-reform approved in 2013.
Alive they took them and alive we want them back!
This article is a translation from Spanish of Carlos Fazio's original article "Ayotzinapa, Terror Racista y Clasista."
Original article:
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