Mexico: massive concern of corruption in the case of the disappearances of forty-three students in Iguala


On September 26th 2014, forty-three Mexican students were kidnapped and likely murdered in Iguala, yet this case is still unresolved since only one remain has been identified as belonging to a student.

Around fifty persons including policemen, José Luis Abarca the former mayor of Iguala and his spouse, and members of the local drug cartel Guerreros Unidos have been charged with these kidnappings. Indeed, José Luis Abarca is accused of having ordered to the policemen to attack the students in order to prevent them from disrupting an event to promote his wife’s political ambitions. However, the inefficiency of the investigation has led to weeks of protests across Mexico against corruption and violence and has highlighted Mexico’s need for justice.

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Protesters confronting policemen on November 10th during the demonstrations at the Acapulco airport (Pedro Pardo/AFP/Getty Images)

According to the NGO Transparency International, Mexico is ranked 103 out of 175 countries based on how corrupt its public sector is perceived to be, zero being the highest corrupt country. As we can notice in the case of the missing students of Iguala, the Government is not doing enough to bring answers to the relatives of the victims. Indeed, despite the fact that independent Argentinians experts have highlighted the irregularities of the official investigation, the Attorney General of Mexico has concluded that the students have been first attacked by corrupt policemen and then sold to the drug cartel Guerreros Unidos that has murdered and burned them, but relatives of the victims accused the Government of trying to cover up a “State crime”. They denounce a web of corruption and an attempt to close the case further to the widespread and often violent protests that it has triggered.

NGOs such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have also questioned the official version and denounced the delays of the investigation which has been opened ten days after the students disappeared. José Miguel Vivanco, director of Human Rights Watch’s Americas division, denounced the “degradation in Mexico in areas such as justice, violence, observance of human rights, corruption and impunity”. Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director of Amnesty International stated “It is imperative that Mexico’s promises to respect human rights are not just government platitudes behind which a host of abuses can be committed with impunity.”

There is a deep judicial crisis in Mexico since 80 percent of homicides remain unsolved.This impunity has even led some Mexican human rights groups to ask the International Criminal Court to open an investigation into Mexican crimes against humanity. In a country where 40 percent of the federated States do not considerkidnapping as a crime, the violence is widespread. Actually, the International Crisis Group estimates that 47,000 to 70,000 people were killed in Mexico in drug war-related violences between 2006 and 2012 and thousands more have disappeared. Human Rights Watch affirms that state actors such as the army, the Navy and the police are often involved in such crimes.

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Comparison between the cartel-related homicides and all the homicides in Mexico between 2005 and 2012 (Latin America Report n°48 from March 2014 by the International Crisis Group)

In Mexico, it is not unusual that the proponents of the rule of law such as some activists, journalists and incorruptible judges, police officers and politicians become the target of violences which often end in murders.

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