By Sandra Lilley
Mexico’s new president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, signed a decree Monday creating a truth and justice commission to investigate the 2014 disappearance and apparent killings of 43 students from a teachers college in the state of Guerrero.
“I will assure you there will be no impunity in this sad, painful case or in any other,” said López Obrador.
Flanked by parents of the missing students, he said the truth commission will be an example of how “human rights will never be violated again.”
The case of the missing students, who were from a rural teachers college in Ayotzinapa, reverberated internationally and cast a harsh spotlight on the actions of local authorities and later the national government, as questions loomed over the investigation.
On September 26, 2014, local police in Iguala surrounded several buses the students had taken to attend a protest. Survivors said the police started shooting at unarmed students. After the incident, six people had been fatally shot and 43 student teachers could not be found.
According to an initial investigation by the Mexican government, the students were murdered after local police — at the behest of Iguala Mayor José Luis Abarca — handed them to a drug gang, Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors), which incinerated the bodies.
But the government did not present conclusive evidence of the killings, and an international team of forensic scientists contradicted the official report, stating that suspects had been tortured illegally to obtain testimonies.
The commission will be headed by Deputy Secretary Alejandro Encinas, who is in charge of human rights as well as migration.
López Obrador has made ending “corruption and impunity” one of the cornerstones of his new government, as he said in his inaugural speech on Saturday.
On Sunday, Mexico’s new president boarded a commercial airliner and flew coach, telling Telemundo in an interview that there will be no “lujos” — luxuries — in his government.