With almost 8,000 people killed in Mexico since the start of 2018, the news of the murder of three young film students has made Mexicans say “enough.”
According to Jalisco's state prosecutor, Raul Sanchez, the students - 25-year-old Javier Salomon Aceves Gastelum, and 25-year-olds Daniel Diaz and Marco Avalos - were killed by members of the New Generation Jalisco Cartel.
Their bodies were doused with acid to leave them unrecognizable, but forensic investigators matched samples with the DNA of at least two of them. Protests have been called in several cities of the country, demanding security in a country that breaks its own murder rates every year.
Meanwhile investigators said Thursday that a Mexican rapper has confessed to disposing of the bodies of three missing film students by dissolving them in acid.
Christian Palma Gutiérrez, better known as QBA, said he had been paid 3,000 pesos, about US$160, a week by the Jalisco New Generation drug cartel.
Activists dressed in black held a vigil outside of the house of Jalisco's governor, Aristoteles Sandoval, which was surrounded by anti-riot police. A great part of the protesters is refusing to believe the government's version of the event, and comparing it to the “historical truth” given by Mexico's prosecutor about the 43 students that have been missing since 2014.
“The three missing students are still missing for us. The prosecutor hasn't presented reliable evidence so far,” said Rosa Zuñiga, one of the protesters.
“Supposing that what the General Attorney says is true, the three film students were murdered and their bodies dissolved in acid for doing their homework.
For doing their homework.
This country is hell. #ItsNotThreeItsAllOfUs"
The University Students Federation (FEU) of Guadalajara's University (UdeG) called for a protest next Thursday, April 26, at the "Missing People Square." In Mexico City, a protest will begin at 4 p.m. local time Tuesday at the Independence Angel, one of the city's landmarks for political meetings.
The Mexican Academy Award winning director Guillermo del Toro expressed his dismay about the murder of the three students. Previously Del Toro had supported the mass protests organized across the country in demand of their safe return home.
“Words are not enough to understand the size of this madness. Three students murdered and dissolved in acid. The 'why' is unthinkable, and the 'how' is frightening.”
According to the official investigation, the students were filming a short-film for a school assignment in a house belonging to the aunt of one of them in Tonala, one of the districts that integrate Jalisco's capital metropolitan area, unaware it used to be a “safe house” for the New Plaza Cartel.
At least eight members of the Jalisco Nueva Generacion Cartel were keeping an eye on the house, and decided to kidnap and murder them, thinking they were part of the rival group.
Authorities found more than 20 genetic profiles in a house in Tonala apparently used by the Jalisco New Generation Cartel to dissolve bodies of their murdered enemies, where 46 containers with sulfuric acid were found.
The investigators say they will continue the search for the identify related to the other genetic profiles found at the house. Two members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, Gerardo N. and Omar N., were arrested in connection with the three killings, and confessed they believed the students were members of the rival cartel.
The number of murders in Mexico so far this year have reached an alarming level as they already broke records compared to previous years. In March alone 2,729 people were killed, most of them shot dead, while in January nearly 2,549 people were murdered, and 2,389 died in crime-related incidents in February.
The staggering rise in violence has been attributed to a range of issues, including rising in gang violence, stealing of fuel, kidnappings, extortion and other criminal activities.
During a presidential elections debate Sunday, leading leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador linked the violence in the country to Mexico being a "poverty factory."
Some of the candidates in the debate suggested more violent tactics to deal with violence by further militarizing the Latin American country, with Jaime Rodriguez, independent candidate and former PRI member, saying he would fight crime by cutting off the hands of delinquents. "Literally. We should cut off criminals’ hands. I will propose legislation for this," Rodriguez said.