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Opinion
Liébano Sáenz
Liébano Sáenz CIDH: Lost Trust There is proof that the Iguala and Cocula municipal police handed over the students to a criminal group, who murdered them and disposed of their remains
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The Iguala events represent a milestone for the fight for security in Mexico. The dramatic occurrence shed light on what happens in some areas of the country where organized crime has replaced the government, appropriated municipal authorities and imposed their illegal interests on municipal police, while local courts remain submerged in political, economic and electoral interests. In addition, there are old radical political movements in that area of Guerrero, which have favored the use of politics and tragedy as propaganda.

Federal authorities have fulfilled their obligation to detain almost everyone responsible. In addition to their confessions, there is proof that strengthens the story that the Iguala and Cocula municipal police handed over the students to a criminal group, who murdered them and disposed of their remains. The other version of the story in which the young people were alive and in military facilities was cruelly spread. And with the hope of bringing them back alive, the victims’ parents demanded that the doors of quarters be opened in order to inspect them.

The presence of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) can be explained by the need to build trust, especially before the victims’ parents and legal representatives. Because of this, everyone believed that the international commission of experts would help with the investigation. Independence was their moral strength. However, they didn’t understand the terms of their command and acted with prejudice and carelessness. Maybe this came from the CIDH, which has had a judgmental position for some time, not so much on the serious human rights situation in Mexico, but on authorities’ performance regarding the issue. One of the foreseeable problems is the negative effect of the extensive and permanent use of military forces.

It is clear that the commission of experts acted with the guarantee of the CIDH. The problem is that their actions stopped accomplishing their main objective: finding the truth. The most evident event was when they denied the possibility that the remains of the students were burned at a landfill in Cocula. The conclusion was expressed as an act of faith, like an unarguable resolution. The authorities acted in the best way to create an additional group of international experts, among them specialist José Torero who sustained the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts’ (GIEI) conclusion.

It is also necessary to mention that a big part of the report sent to the CIDH supported the Attorney General’s Office’s (PGR) version of the event. The most relevant: that the students had been detained by municipal police and handed over to the Guerreros Unidos criminal group. In this way, to clear up what happened in the Cocula landfill became very relevant and became a topic of interest for the federal government, as a way to explain why they couldn’t find the remains of the students.

The studies conducted by the new group of experts were completed in time and there was a commitment, which was fulfilled, to publicize the conclusions on the last day of March. Unfortunately for the CIDH, their conclusions correct those which were so vehemently supported by the GIEI. There was evidence to presume that there had been a fire at the Cocula landfill, where the remains of at least 17 students may have been hidden, and a further study could confirm that the fire could have been used to understand what happened to the 43 students.

Faced with these circumstances, a public apology by the CIDH was to be expected because of the effects of its erroneous conclusion derived from the opinion of José Torero. It did not happen. With unaccountable pride, the GIEI called on the authorities for having made the results public and announced that henceforth it would not cooperate with the PGR on the issue. Even worse, the members of the group assumed it was the duty of the authorities to keep such an important conclusion secret. The truth did not sat well with them. Just as they had done with ease, questioning the conclusion of the authorities, now, when their study was questioned, they turned sour. They considered it an opinion which disqualified the result that they had defended to the extent of consider a third study by independent international experts unnecessary.

It also has to do with their rejection to be subject to scrutiny by public opinion. There is no campaign, official or unofficial, against the GIEI. What exists is a press that is critical of everything and everyone, fortunately. As it happened to them, the authorities and their work are under a greater of lesser degree of scrutiny by the media. For this specific case, the biggest challenge is the truth as a way to justice and, in that regard, it was assumed that the contribution of the CIDH experts was essential. Again, the wrong opinion of Torero is a very serious offense which should have compeled the CIDH to immediately withdraw the experts, because instead of providing evidence to clarify the case, they did exactly the opposite.

In that context, the statements made in recent days by Vidulfo Rosales, the legal representative of the parents and member of the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center, are revealing. He acknowledged that municipal police officers and gunmen of the Guerreros Unidos cartel were responsible for the disappearance and murder of the students. These statements confirm the findings of the PGR, because once the issue was clarified, the rest concerns the way in which the remains of the victims were disposed of. Fortunately, and contrary to what the members of the CIDH did, there is already a reliable report, endorsed by the same expert who was wrong and which states that the remains of at least 17 students, and possibly all 43, were disposed of in the Cocula landfill. It would be recommended that international organizations whose origin and raison d’être is good faith accepted the fallible nature of the actions of every human being, especially when the purpose of its intervention was to create confidence. The CIDH had that and lost it.

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