Relatives of Mexico's 43 missing Ayotzinapa students have held a private meeting with President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who reaffirmed his commitment to create a truth commission to investigate the disappearances.
The parties had met during the president-elect’s campaign, reaching a historical agreement, and Lopez Obrador’s team confirmed they would meet again on the fourth anniversary of the incident.
“We have been trying to open doors for four years,” said Maria Elena, mother of one of the missing students. “We’re very happy this door opened by itself.”
The meeting was held Wednesday at the Museum of Memory and Tolerance in Mexico City between Lopez Obrador, members of his future cabinet, the parents, and their lawyers.
Social organizations and supporters outside the museum held signs saying 'Four years of the disappearance, of lies and impunity. 43 alive!'
Lopez Obrador committed to three main points: pressuring institutions to create a truth commission; creating it himself by decree if this has not been achieved by Dec. 1, the day of his swearing-in ceremony; and letting international organizations play a decisive role in the investigation.
A local tribunal in Tamaulipas recently ordered the creation of the truth commission but the demand was dismissed by the outgoing federal government.
The president-elect also said the Interior Ministry (Segob) will change its goals during his administration, aiming to defend human rights instead of carrying out security duties.
“It won’t be related with police or espionage issues anymore,” said Lopez Obrador. “It will now focus on political relations and on the protection of human rights above all.”
Lopez Obrador’s pick to head the Population and Human Rights Ministry, itself dependent on Segob, is Alejandro Encinas, who was tasked with observing the commitments reached with the relatives of the 43.
“In this new approach Alejandro Encinas, human rights subsecretary, will have a prominent role. On behalf of the presidency, he will be in charge of conducting and coordinating actions to comply with the commitments we’re reaching regarding the terrible case of the Ayotzinapa youngsters,” said Lopez Obrador.
He also announced that his government will bring in international human rights institutions, which have helped “against all odds so this case won’t be closed,” to advise on the Ayotzinapa case.
Epifanio Alvarez, father of one of the missing students, said: “For the first time in four years we feel hope the government will do something to solve the case.
“It’s a symbolic day for the parents. We’ve been through hunger, cold, we have been wet, marching in search for our children.”
Lopez Obrador thanked the parents of the missing students and their supporters for keeping the struggle alive, and said they were “a role model for all those fighting for justice in Mexico and the rest of the world.”