Washington, D.C.—In a letter to Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard—sponsored by Congressman Alan Lowenthal (D-Ca.) and made public today—ten Members of Congress offered support for President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s recent efforts to resolve the emblematic case of 43 Ayotzinapa students who were forcefully disappeared by Mexican security forces in Guerrero, Mexico on September 26, 2014. At the same time, the letter raises concerns regarding the continued lack of justice in the case, as Mexican authorities have yet to secure a single conviction for those responsible.
Sent on the fifth anniversary of the students’ disappearance, the letter applauds the López Obrador administration’s efforts to strengthen the investigation into the case—an investigation that had been marred by grave irregularities and obstruction of justice during former President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration. “We believe that the president’s creation of a Commission for Truth and Justice to supervise the Ayotzinapa case…represents an important step to move the case forward,” reads the letter. “We were also pleased to learn about the June 2019 creation of a Special Investigation and Litigation Unit for the Ayotzinapa Case.”
The letter also commends the Mexican government for securing international assistance and oversight for the case, including from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). “We believe this international engagement is paramount for continuing with the investigation into the students’ disappearance and for monitoring ongoing inquiries into possible irregularities and obstruction of justice,” the letter states.
While recognizing recent progress made in the Ayotzinapa case, the letter also expresses concern for the continued lack of accountability for those responsible for the students’ disappearance. “We are concerned by the lack of any convictions for those responsible for this crime and the recent absolution of a key suspect in the case given the irregularities in the evidence presented against him, including evidence obtained through torture,” reads the letter. Indeed, Mexican courts have absolved 77 out of the 142 individuals detained in relation to the students’ disappearance due to irregularities in their detention.
In the letter, the Members of Congress also expressed their support for Mexico’s efforts to address its broader disappearances crisis. “We further note that this case is only one of more than 47,000 registered disappearance cases in the country… As the Mexican government works to address this disappearances crisis, we are committed to supporting this important effort to bring truth and justice to the families of the 43 forcibly disappeared students from Ayotzinapa and the thousands of other families across the country desperately searching for answers about the fate of their missing loved ones.”