Exposing the guilty parties
Mexico: the greatest political crime in decades
Cuauhtémoc Ruíz
volume 36
issue 1
February 2015

In Mexico City, theater students make a visual statement during a protest outside the attorney general's office on Oct. 15, 2014. Photo: Edgard Garrido / Reuters

This article accepts the Mexican government’s statement that the students studying to be teachers in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, were murdered. Regarding other aspects of this crime the government is lying or hiding information, in order to shield public officials (with the exception of the ex-mayor of Iguala) from responsibility. The government’s line is that the narcotraffickers of Guerreros Unidos mistook the students for rival gang members.

The Ayotzinapa massacre is a flagrant political crime, Mexico’s worst in decades. The following ruling forces share responsibility: government officials at the state and federal levels; the Partido Revolucionario Democrático (PRD, one of Mexico’s three main capitalist parties, in power in Guerrero); the Mexican military; MORENA (Movement for National Restoration, a social-democratic party led by Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or AMLO); the military; and Mexican big business interests.

Ordered from on high. The “mistaken identity” story has no basis. The Iguala mayor, Luis Abarca, knew the youth were from Ayotzinapa. So did local police, who fatally shot six people in the mass kidnapping of 43 others on Sept. 26. Before the murders the students appealed to members of an Army battalion for help, but were rebuffed. There is plenty of evidence of involvement by federal police, according to information gathered by reporter Anabel Hernández of the newsweekly Proceso and corroborated by Marcela Turati.

If no evidence of mistaken identity exists, then who ordered the killings?

Do Mexican authorities have the power to order extrajudicial murders? Of course not. However, political assassinations ordered by public officials do exist, and in Iguala this method of governing reached a diabolical level. The decision to exterminate the students was made by the federal and state governments and the Army. In other words, a high functionary in the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto (EPN), if not he himself; the Guerrero governor Ángel Aguirre [now resigned — ed.]; and a senior Army officer. Lesser officials could not have decided upon a crime of such magnitude — although this does not exempt the psychopathic ex-mayor of Iguala, Luis Abarca.

It is correct to demand the resignation of Peña Nieto and his attorney general, and to call for an investigation into who in his administration decided upon this slaughter. The same should be done with Ángel Aguirre and his secretary of security and attorney general in Guerrero. All should be arrested and jailed under suspicion of co-conspiracy in this crime. The leaders of the Army battalion and the federal chief of police should also be arrested.

The question arises: Why this tremendous crime of state terrorism? What did its perpetrators hope to accomplish?

Containing a pre-insurrectional wave. For 20 years insurrections have persisted in the four southern states of Chiapas, Oaxaca, Michoacán, and Guerrero, where poverty and misery predominate. The region’s brutally exploited and oppressed indigenous population is sustaining an indomitable and increasingly radical resistance.

In 1994, the EZLN (Ejercito Zapatista de Liberación Nacional) rose up; in 2006, the state of Oaxaca. At the end of 2012 the EZLN spectacularly reappeared with four enormous marches. In 2013 the community police in Guerrero arose, accompanied by powerful teachers’ struggles that later spread to Oaxaca and half the country. In 2014 it was Michoacán’s turn, with thousands of people organizing into self-defense forces. At the POS (Partido Obrero Socialista) national conference in June 2013, we characterized the situation in this region as pre-insurrectionary:

“The indigenous and peasant movement has reached new heights. A new insurrection is incubating, much deeper and wider than the EZLN insurrection of 1994. Although not at the point of explosion, it is ripening.

“Some of the organizing is in reaction to rapacious capitalist efforts to destroy communities through development of large-scale mining projects and wind power plants. These devastate natural resources and brutally exploit the workers they employ. Other communities are opposing organized crime. This process of mobilization and organization has found its most complete expression in the community police forces.”

Government has responded with repression, with more than 30 dead in Oaxaca in 2006 and over 300 imprisoned in Michoacán, starting with self-defense leader Dr. José Manuel Mireles. In Guerrero, 13 community police members were sent to jail, among them Nestora Salgado; so too were four leaders of a community council that opposes construction of the La Parota dam. To liquidate opposition and contain the social movements, Guerrero officials seized upon the tool of political assassination, something that had been previously resorted to only rarely.

Repression in Guerrero. The scale on which Governor Ángel Aguirre employed political assassination was a new development in Mexico. He was supported in this by a wide range of political parties and entities including the PRD; AMLO; the reformist party Convergencia; the Partido de los Trabajadores (PT); and the right-wing Partido Acción Nacional (PAN).

Assassinations in Guerrero were carried out with impunity. After state and federal police murdered two Ayotzinapa students in December 2012, Governor Aguirre was never prosecuted. The same thing happened in similar crimes that followed. Press reports appeared and some protests occurred, but no prosecutions took place.

Big business interests viewed Aguirre’s brutal methods favorably. Carlos Slim, the richest man in Mexico, was photographed smiling profusely with Aguirre just months after the 2012 assassination of the two Ayotzinapa normalistas. He also announced that he was making substantial investments in Guerrero, conveying a clear endorsement of Aguirre’s bloody rule.

In 2013, Iguala Mayor Abarca murdered three rival PRD members, one a national party leader. Governor Aguirre and Jesús Zambrano, another PRD leader, publicly supported Abarca. Given the close relations Abarca maintained with López Obrador, it is clear that AMLO provided political support as well. Both the federal attorney general and the head of Mexico’s department of governance knew about this crime and ignored it.

AMLO’s new party, MORENA, also supported Governor Aguirre. In turn, Aguirre incorporated MORENA into his cabinet by appointing Lázaro Monzón as Secretary of Health.

All the major parties supported Aguirre and President Peña Nieto visited him in Guerrero, increasing his sense of immunity. Aguirre felt politically protected and secure in taking the next repressive step. He did this on Sept. 26.

Not anticipated: the depth and breadth of popular reaction. Federal and state officials are viewing the region of Guerrero-Michoacán-Oaxaca-Chiapas with great concern. They fear a peasant-indigenous-popular uprising in one or two of these states — or in all of them.

Mexico’s rulers feared that a radical guerrilla group was behind the Ayotzinapa students. They felt threatened by the possible rise of mass organizations made up of tens of thousands of community police and hundreds of guerrilla fighters. The Ayotzinapa students were the next targets in their sights.

Having waited for the opportune moment, these rulers believed it had arrived on Sept. 26. They ordered the massacre. But their calculations failed. This time, outrage and protest flooded the nation. Fury and protest are spreading and extending beyond Mexico’s borders. The murderous crimes of Aguirre and the whole ruling political caste stand exposed by this wave of protest.

Society is waking up — at the enormous cost of 50 innocent lives cut short in the first flush of youth. The governments of Enrique Peña Nieto and Guerrero will never recover from the massacre of the Ayotzinapa students.

Cuauhtémoc Ruíz of Mexico’s Partido Obrero Socialista (pos.org.mx/) is editor of the party’s journal Pluma, whose Winter 2014 edition carried this article in Spanish. Send feedback to FSnews@mindspring.com.

As the indigenous and campesino insurrection develops in Mexico, unions are also participating, although the absence of industrial workers is notable. However, militant teachers' unions are often in the leadership. These are the strongest allies of the families of the missing students of Ayotzinapa. A workers' and peasants' alliance is gathering strength. — Cuauhtémoc Ruíz

This article in Spanish / Este artículo en español

Also see:

Rebellion and repression from Ferguson to Ayotzinapa

Roots of the Ferguson explosion — and what’s next for the movement

Curb police violence through community control

No justice without radical change

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