Six of 43 students who went missing eight years ago in Mexico were allegedly kept alive in a warehouse for several days before being turned over to a local army commander who ordered their killing, a government official leading a Truth Commission said.
On September 2014, the students from a teaching college in Guerrero went missing as they headed to a protest.
Interior Undersecretary Alejandro Encinas has now made a shocking revelation directly tying the military to one of Mexico’s worst human rights scandals.
Encinas declared the abductions and disappearances a “state crime” and claimed the army watched it happen without intervening.
On Friday, he added that the authorities had monitored the students as they left campus at their radical teachers’ college until their abduction by local police in the town of Iguala on the same night.
A soldier who had infiltrated the school was among the abducted students, and Encinas claimed the army did not follow its own protocols and try to rescue him.
“There is also information corroborated with emergency 089 telephone calls where allegedly six of the 43 disappeared students were held during several days and alive in what they call the old warehouse and from there were turned over to the colonel,” Encinas said.
“Allegedly the six students were alive for as many as four days after the events and were killed and disappeared on orders of the colonel, allegedly the then Col. José Rodríguez Pérez.”
The role of the army in the students’ disappearance has long been a source of tension between the families and the government.
From the beginning, there were questions about the military’s knowledge of what happened and its possible involvement.
The students’ parents demanded for years that they be allowed to search the army base in Iguala.
It was not until 2019 that they were given access along with Encinas and the Truth Commission.
The commission report says the army registered an anonymous emergency call on September 30, 2014, four days after the students’ abduction.
The caller reportedly said the students were being held in a large concrete warehouse in a location described as “Pueblo Viejo.” The caller proceeded to describe the location.
That entry was followed by several pages of redacted material, but that section of the report concluded with the following: “As can be seen, obvious collusion existed between agents of the Mexican state with the criminal group Guerreros Unidos that tolerated, allowed and participated in events of violence and disappearance of the students, as well as the government’s attempt to hide the truth about the events.”
Later, in a summary of how the commission’s report differed from the original investigation’s conclusions, there is mention of a colonel.
“On Sept. 30 ‘the colonel’ mentions that they will take care of cleaning everything up and that they had already taken charge of the six students who had remained alive,” the report said.