Families, relatives and friends of the 43 rural students, known as the Ayotzinapa 43 and kidnapped by local police in the state of Guerrero, in Mexico, were holding protests and actions this week to mark 43 months since the disappearance of the students as they demand real answers and investigations from the government.
The National Popular Assembly (ANP), a discussion platform organized by the parents of the missing students and local organizations in Guerrero, decided to carry out a series of protests to demand actions from the government and inform people about their struggle. The actions will take place until April 26, the day marking exactly 43 months since they went missing.
“The government has made no progress in our case, but they're stubborn, presenting their historic lie despite the scientific and factual inconsistencies of that theory,” the parents declared during a protest earlier this week in reference to the government's controversial theory about what happened.
With the support of their children's colleagues from the Raul Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers' College in Ayotzinapa, the parents of the missing students protested at the monument of the fallen in Chilpancingo, Guerrero's capital, and painted on the walls of the 35th military unit barracks, which is accused by the families of collaborating with the police and a local drug cartel on the night the students went missing, in an event called “43 x 43 In the Heart.”
"Parents of the 43 and students of the Rural Teachers' College of Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, protested in Chilpancingo and painted on the walls of the 35 Military Zone."
“We want the Mexican government to follow the four lines of investigation proposed by the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI). It has now been confirmed that there's a drug traffic route between Iguala and Chicago, and we demand that line be investigated,” said Meliton Ortega, spokesperson for the We're Missing 43 (Nos faltan 43) collective.
The Federal Government's investigation concluded that the students had been handed in by local police authorities to the United Warriors (Guerreros Unidos) drug cartel, which executed and burned them in a landfill.
But the parents of the missing students and the GIEI refuse to believe this theory, arguing it must have been impossible for the criminal group to burn such a quantity of bodies in one night in a small landfill.
3 Years of Protests for Mexico's Ayotzinapa 43
Also, survivors and witnesses claim the military participated in the events, and the parents have for years demanded that the federal government investigate the military barracks.
Rafael Lopez Catarino, father of Julio Cesar Lopez, claims his son's mobile phone was last located at the 27th military barracks in Iguala, the city where the students were kidnapped, according to the GPS record.
Students and parents took over the Tierras Pietras tolling booth, letting drivers pass without paying and handing them information sheets about their struggle. Another group did the same on the highway connecting Mexico City with Acapulco, one of the country's most famous beach resorts.
The students might have been victims of shady agreements between the military, the local authorities and drug cartels regarding the production and transportation of drugs. Guerrero is one of the greatest producers of opium poppy in the world, and local organizations use private buses to transport loads undercover. Independent investigations reveal that the students might have been using the wrong bus at the wrong time.