The Army and Navy learned that 43 students would be kidnapped in 2014 by criminals and withheld information that could have led to their location.
The Army and Navy knew that 43 students would be kidnapped in 2014 by criminals and hid key information that could have led to their location, according to a new report released Monday by the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI).
This document, from the committee in charge of conducting a parallel investigation into the case, revealed that the Secretary of the Navy (Semar) and the Army kept secret that the students and the criminals were watched in real-time and when the young people were attacked by police and criminals.
“Security authorities had two intelligence processes underway, one to follow up on the actions of organized crime in the area and the other on the students,” the group said in the report on the events that occurred on the night of the 26th and the early morning of the 27th. September 2014, according to documents declassified last November.
“It is so difficult to understand how and why this monitoring ceased at crucial times when the forced disappearance occurred,” added the report on the events in the community of Iguala, in the state of Guerrero, with the teaching students of the Ayotzinapa rural school.
In the official documents to which the GIEI had access, conversations were found between soldiers informing their superiors of the steps that the students followed until they arrived in Iguala and its surroundings. The young people were going to go to a protest in Mexico City.
Semar and the Army did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
The Armed Forces denied for years that they had information about operations carried out that day and about the young people, who are still missing, the report said. “Communications interceptions (…) could have guided the search for the students,” he added.
The Undersecretary for Human Rights, Alejandro Encinas, said after listening to the investigators’ conference on Monday that “the Army is collaborating” although details are lacking. “The requests (from the GIEI) will be attended to.”
“A lot of time has been wasted”
The GIEI also said that for the first time it obtained several videos that were in the possession of Semar on the case. One of them shows operations by air and land that until now had not been included in the official investigations.
In one of them, alleged military personnel are seen manipulating packages that they take from two trucks to a garbage dump in the municipality of Cocula, where Mexican authorities initially said that the students were cremated and their remains thrown into a river.
Other agents are then seen lighting a fire, in the same area. The recording was dated a month after the students disappeared, according to the new report.
Investigators said there were more than 100 hours of videos, but they concentrated on reviewing those from September 27.
The version that they were incinerated in a huge pyre, and that the previous government called the “historical truth”, was discarded shortly after by the GIEI experts, who began to assist in the case in 2015 after several complaints of irregularities in the official investigation.
The group of specialists clarified that in order to obtain the new material and other documents in the hands of the military and security forces, it was necessary to request the intervention of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
“The destruction and loss of information and the lack of response for three years after the departure of the GIEI in 2019 have made all the work more complicated and seriously compromise the possibilities of a full clarification of the case,” admitted the GIEI. “Some key people involved have died or have been killed,” he added.
In 2019, the current government said that the investigation would be restarted from scratch. So far nothing is known about the whereabouts of the students, seen as one of the most atrocious cases that have occurred in recent years.
At the end of the conference, part of the parents of the disappeared youths, carrying posters with photos of their children, intoned the phrase they have been pronouncing all these years: “because they were taken alive, we want them alive.”