A Mexican student that went missing with 42 others in Mexico was found and identified by his remains Saturday. Family members of Mora Venancio confirmed that his remains were indeed found and identified by foreign forensic experts. Argentine forensic specialists confirmed human remains found in southern Mexico as Venancio. He and 42 other teaching students were ambushed by local authorities in Iguala in September and handed over to the Guerreros Unidos, or the United Warriors.
According to prosecutors, the gang murdered the students and burned their corpses at a landfill next to Cocula before dumping the ashes in a river. Jesus Murillo Karam, Mexico Attorney General, cited statements from three culprits in custody, that the students were all dead. The three currently in custody confessed to the killing and disposing of the bodies. The kidnapping of the students of Ayotzinapa Rural Normal School sparked protests across Mexico and outrage in the international community against corruption and violence.
The 43 students were driving from their teaching college in Ayotzinapa to Iguala to participate in demonstrations against perceived discriminatory employment practices. Allegedly, said practices would favor urban students over the rural students. While heading back from Iguala, police ambushed the buses carrying the students and opened fire. Three of the students were killed and three bystanders in the vicinity were struck by the barrage of bullets and died. Bodies laid in the streets for hours before authorities intervened.
One busload of students attempted to escape, but were detained by local police and taken to the police station. The students were taken to Cocula dump and set on fire per the suspects’ accounts. They watched the fire for about 14 hours and then collected the remains in trash bags, then tossed the bags into the river. One of the bags was found intact with the remains of the suspected missing Mexican students according to Karam. Parents of the missing students, out of distrust of the government, requested an independent forensic team from Argentina to confirm the identification of the remains located by searchers. They were shipped to the University of Innsbruck in Austria for examination.
A few of the officers involved in the ambush claimed that they handed the students over to the Guerreros drug gang. Jose Luis Abarca, Iguala mayor, and his wife Maria were promptly arrested in Mexico City when Abarca abruptly abandoned his post.
Abarca is accused of ordering the ambush to prevent the students from protesting a speech given by his wife. 70 other people, including police officers, were arrested in connection with the ambush and subsequent disappearance.
On Saturday, another protest was held in Mexico City. The demonstration ended at the Monument to the Revolution. Parents of the missing students addressed supporters and confirmed the identification of the remains. They vowed that they would not stop to sit and cry, but rather would continue fighting until the remaining students were found, said Felipe de la Cruz, father of another missing student. They vowed those responsible would be held accountable.
A message was posted on the teacher’s college official Facebook page confirming the findings. Posing as the deceased, Venancio, it stated that the information was confirmed to Venancio’s father.
Mexican president, Enrique Pena Nieto, drew up a package of reforms and submitted it to Congress while experiencing his lowest popularity rating since assuming office two years ago. The referendum replaces all 1800 municipal police units with 32 units ran by the state.
Nieto championed ambitious economic reform, allowing foreign investment in the Mexican oil industry. With public outcry over the ambush of the students, Nieto has had to redirect his focus to the widespread corruption in the police and political climate crippling Mexico.
In the search effort for the remains of the missing 43 Mexican students numerous mass graves were found. Forensic testing of the remains found in the graves indicated that they were not the remains of the missing students. According to government estimates, close to 22,000 people have gone missing over the last eight years of violence and cartel turf wars. Another 100,000 are believed to have died over that same time frame from drug-related violence.
By Stevenson Benoit
Photo by Atoq Wallpa Sua – Flickr License