Latin America

Violence flares as Iguala student disappearance anniversary approaches

Protestors hold four Mexican police officers hostage during confrontation

Video: Tensions between authorities and students grow in Guerrero.ATLAs (atlas)

As the one-year anniversary of the disappearance of 43 Mexican teaching students in Iguala, Guerrero state, approaches, violence has erupted in the region where residents are still demanding answers about the fate of the young people who were reportedly executed by a drug organization.

On Tuesday, students from the victims’ Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers College set fire to a transport truck as they tried to reach state capital Chilpancingo to call on the Mexican government to provide full details of what occurred on the evening of September 26, 2014.

Students threw Molotov cocktails at security forces and officers responded with tear gas to quell the crowd

In nearby Tixtla, state police stopped about a dozen buses carrying students and other protestors from reaching Chilpancingo. The incident ended in a standoff between the demonstrators and the authorities in which four officers were held hostage for several hours before being released.

Guerrero Public Security Secretary Pedro Almazán had asked the students to allow the police to search their vehicles. But when they refused, a confrontation broke out with students throwing Molotov cocktails and rocks at security forces and officers firing tear gas in response.

One student told the Mexico City daily Reforma that riot police beat up the mother of one of the 43 missing students.

According to the official investigation, the 43 youths were arrested by corrupt police officers in nearby Iguala when they tried to hold a protest during a mayoral candidate’s campaign rally and were handed over to drug hit men who killed them and burned their bodies.

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But their families and human rights groups believe that the army was involved in the death of the students and that the Mexican government is involved in a cover-up. Guerrero is the home base of the Mexican army’s 27th battalion.

A recent report by the Organization of American States (OAS) concludes that the disappearances may have been connected to the heroin trade in the area. 

President Enrique Peña Nieto is on Thursday scheduled to meet with the families for the first time since the incident.

On Monday, about 100 students vandalized the state prosecutor’s offices, breaking windows and destroying equipment and files inside the building.

No one was in the office at the time. The attack took place on the same day that 10,000 state government employees held a one-day work stoppage to demand extra pay.

English version by Martin Delfín.

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