More than two years after 43 students from Ayotzinapa teachers' training college went missing in Mexico's violence-ridden Guerrero state, their parents said the investigation has stagnated and criticized the government for trying to close the case on a stop on their “Weaving 43 Hopes” tour through Mexico Thursday.
"We give the attorney general’s office a deadline of March 9. If there is no progress by March 9 when we meet, we as parents will toughen up our actions,” said Cristina Bustamante, mother of one of the disappeared students. “That's why we are here with the caravan 'Weaving 43 Hopes,’ to tell them that we will not give up until we find the truth of where our children are."
In the more than two years since the students went missing, their parents have continued to criticize the Mexican government for failing to unveil the true circumstances of their disappearance and for continuing to push a narrative that has been discredited by international organizations for its inconsistencies.
According to the official story, a busload of students from the Ayotzinapa teachers' training college, a school renowned for its activism, were on their way to a demonstration for striking teachers on Sept. 26, 2014, when they were pulled over. Corrupt police detained the 43 students and handed them over to a criminal organization, who then murdered them, burned their bodies and threw the ashes into a nearby river, according to the official account.
The Mexican government has stuck by this account of what happened to the students, but the students' parents have not accepted this version as the truth.
Independent investigations, including the work of investigative journalist Anabel Hernandez, have pointed to Mexican soldiers, federal police and the attorney general's office all playing a key role in the 43 disappearances. After these revelations were exposed in Hernandez's book, the parents began to call for the prosecution of military personnel from the 27th Infantry Battalion, which they accused of being responsible for the disappearance of their children.
The Mexican government continues to stick to their official account of events that blames drug lords and local police, despite mounting evidence of national police and military involvement.
Parents of the students restarted talks with the Mexican government a week before they began their caravan through Mexico, but were not satisfied with the outcome, EFE reported.
The parents met with the heads of the Attorney General's Office and the Interior Ministry for three hours before reaching an agreement.
During the talks, the two parties, who halted talks in August 2016, reached a series of agreements about how to proceed with the investigation into what happened to the disappeared students.
The parents will continue to meet on a monthly basis with government officials, who have agreed to provide assistance to support police investigating the case and follow up on leads from international experts appointed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.