The heat is on for EPN as Mexico searches for answers on missing students

The former mayor of Iguala, from the Mexican town where 43 students were abducted and likely killed in September, has officially been charged by a federal judge as of Thursday, November 13. After the incident, when the students were abducted by police and masked men, the mayor and his wife fled to an area outside of Mexico City before they were arrested in connection with the incident.

Despite the arrest of dozens involved in the abductions and a confession by gang members of killing the students, the bodies have yet to be recovered. Some remains have possibly been found, but are awaiting lab confirmation in Austria.

Meanwhile, protests have amped up across the nation calling for justice and the ouster of President Enrique Peña Nieto. Peña Nieto’s incompetence in dealing with the incident has rightfully given fuel to those calling for his head. On November 8, angry protesters set fire to the door of the ceremonial presidential palace in Mexico City’s Zocalo. Four days later, protesters set fire to a local legislation building in Guerrero, the nearby state where the incident occurred.

In a nation that is plagued with impunity for criminals, the people have had enough. Peña Nieto failed to even recognize the incident for 11 days and took 33 days to meet with parents of the missing.

Before the incident, Peña Nieto had steadily been patting himself on the back for leading the fight in reforming Mexico against corruption and drug cartels. He has since proved his façade of progress is mere bullshit. His political party, Partido Revolucionario Institucional or PRI, had slowly reformed its image from a nationwide corrupt entity to a respectable party, but that too has gone south.

On November 13, after 43 days had passed since the incident, students stated they would burn down 43 government buildings to show solidarity with the missing. Those students, whom are Normalistas like those that were abducted, belong to “normal” schools that train high school graduates to become teachers. Normalistas have been associated with revolutionary ideologies and are known for their strong protests.

Mexico has seen over 100,000 people killed in the drug war since it began under former President Felipe Calderón in late 2006. Over that same time period, another 20,000 have gone missing.

It has become common for bodies that are not identifiable to be handed over to families, while the bodies are not actually their lost loved ones. This building level of untrust is why families of those missing from Iguala refuse to rest until their lost are found and identified.

Violence does not touch every corner of Mexico, as most tourist areas and many large cities do not see the daily death that some areas do. But for states like Guerrero, death and kidnappings is a daily reminder of the dire conditions many face.

Even if Peña Nieto is forced out of office, which still seems highly unlikely, changes needed to prevent incidents like this from occurring again are still out of reach. Local politicians and police work hand in hand with criminal organizations because it is profitable and safer than going against them. Low salaries and risking one’s life to defy powerful drug traffickers is hard to choose for many.

While Mexico has done a good job in recent years of taking down high level drug lords, the organizations and gangs they led are still intact. The government has found a way to cut the head off the snake, but has no answer on how to rid the roaches from the homes of so many. Until Mexico can fuel a legal economy that can outweigh the dollar of the drug lord, it is only a matter of time until the next incident like Iguala.

-K. Mennem


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