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Column 112414 Wall

Monday, November 24, 2014

Protests over the Iguala Massacre continue throughout Mexico

By Allan Wall

Protests continue in Mexico, as people call for justice in the case of the Iguala kidnapping and massacre.

On September 26th, in Iguala, in the southern state of Guerrero, police attacked college students (of a college at Ayotzinapa, Guerrero) and others who happened to be nearby, killing six.  Then, 43 students were taken prisoner and turned over to a criminal gang called Guerreros Unidos, an offshoot of the Beltran Leyva cartel.  

The current explanation for what occurred (though not accepted by everybody) is that the 43 students were killed, their bodies burned and dumped in a river.  Remains of burned bodies have been found, but do they belong to the slain students or other victims?  This uncertainty is one of the reasons for the outrage.

(For previous articles on the topic, see The Iguala Atrocities send Shock Waves throughout Mexico; and The Iguala Disappearances and continuing Violence in Mexico.)

Two months after the attack and abductions, the outcries continue throughout Mexico and even beyond.

On November 20th, the anniversary of the 1910 Mexican Revolution, tens of thousands of protesters filled Mexico City’s Zocalo Plaza.  Parents and relatives of the missing were involved. Before things were over, some demonstrators were throwing Molotov cocktails at security forces.*

For the administration of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, this is a big problem.  Ironically, the mayor of Iguala, who apparently ordered the attack on the students and detention of the 43, was not even of Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI for its initials in Spanish).  However, that didn’t stop protesters in Guerrero from destroying the state’s PRI headquarters.

What is finally going to result from all this?  Will it have real political consequences?  Or will the the protests finally die down and the case recede from public view, as new outrages demand attention?   

There are already scores of people in custody for the crimes, both police officers and gang members.  Jose Luis Abarca, the mayor of Iguala, and his wife Maria de los Angeles Villa Pineda are in custody.  They had fled Iguala and gone into hiding in Mexico City. 

Another detainee is Cesar Nava Gonzalez, who was deputy director of the police department of nearby Cocula, who, it appears, had also participated in the attack on the students on September 26th.

Another detainee is Guerreros Unidos leader Sidronio Casarrubias Salgado.

Definitely, what occurred in and around Iguala was an outrage.  A local government, in cahoots with a criminal gang, attacked students, captured college students and turned them over to a criminal gang.

Apparently this was not Mayor Abarca’s first murderous exploit.  Back in May of 2013, Mayor Abarca, it has been reported, had another group of political activists kidnapped and murdered.  According to this story, Abarca himself murdered one of them. 

The state of Guerrero had Mexico’s highest murder rate last year.  And, as of October 28th, 240 people had gone missing in the state of Guerrero thus far in 2014, with over 150 bodies discovered in clandestine graves.

Two hundred kilometers from Iguala, in the sierra of Ocotitlan, also in Guerrero, there were 13 bodies found in a mass grave on October 29th.  One of those was the body of John Ssenyondo, a Catholic priest from Uganda (Africa) serving in the town of Nejapa.  

Ssenyondo had been in Mexico for the past six years.  On April 30th, after having officiated at a mass in a nearby town, Ssenyondo was captured by an armed gang.  Search was made for the priest, but he wasn’t found until his body was discovered, along with the others, in the grave.

It's not just the state of Guerrero.  Such graves have been found all over Mexico.  Over 100,000 people have been killed or have gone missing in Mexico since the year 2006.

As for the Iguala case, it is hurting the Peña Nieto administration despite the fact that those involved in Guerrero were not even of his political party.

And though the federal government has taken over the case and has scores of detainees, the physical evidence is still lacking.

Crime, corruption, impunity, political rivalry, and a Mexican judicial system which isn’t regarded with much confidence combine to elicit such outrage over Iguala.

* note: According to news reports, 11 demonstrators were arrested and subsequently charged with rioting, attempted murder, terrorism and organized crime.


Allan Wall, an educator, resided in Mexico for many years.  His website is located at

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