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  December 20, 2016

Secret Mexican Government Report on Missing Students Shows Official Cover-up

The Unreleased Attorney General's report about the investigation of 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa implicates the investigators, says journalist Anabel Hernandez
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GREGORY WILPERT: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Gregory Wilpert coming to you from Quito, Ecuador. The Mexican government is refusing to release a report on the investigation into the disappearance of 43 students from the town of Ayotzinapa that occurred two years ago. The report was supposed to have been released last August, but it was withheld for undisclosed reasons, according to the New York Times, which saw the report. The case of the 43 students who attended a teacher training school in Ayotzinapa, and who participated in a protest in a nearby town, were ambushed on their way home two years ago and disappeared. Some accounts say they were arrested by local police and then turned over to a criminal gang, and then killed.

The case has become emblematic for many Mexicans, because of the government's collusion with organized crime, in order to repress political activists. Joining us from Mexico, to discuss this secret report, is Anabel Hernández. She is an investigative reporter in Mexico, and has seen the government report. Thanks Anabel, for joining us today.

ANABEL HERNÁNDEZ: Hi, hello, thanks for inviting me.

GREGORY WILPERT: So, tell us first, what are some of the main issues that this secret report discloses about the investigation into the missing students? What is it that you found out in looking at this report?

ANABEL HERNÁNDEZ: Well, first I wish to explain that I have been investigating the case for the last two years. And I just wrote a book called, "La Verdadera Noche de Iguala," and I got these two documents, internal documents, from the Pahari(?), since last September. I got these documents and I include them in my book. That's why New York Times, also talk about my book and my research, even they also get these documents just recently. So, I can tell you that these two documents are key in the case.

The Internal Affairs Office, inside the Pahari, decided on last April to make two different internal investigations. One, about the - just the inspections and all the work the Pahari make in the Rio San Juan, where supposedly the federal government found the remains of at least one of the students that disappeared, Alexander Mora.

And the other big document is about all the internal investigation about how the Pahari made the investigation. And is an investigation of the investigation. These two documents have very important information, that sadly have been, not public in Mexico by the Pahari. The government didn't want to release to the public opinion in Mexico, and that's why I have to include these documents in my book. And this is why the New York Times decided also to publish one of these documents. The documents are very important... I mean, there are five very important conclusions of these documents that destroy all the official versions of the government, inside the government. If you... you don’t understand what I mean.

The first and very important conclusion is that the Pahari, all the people that were investigating the case about the 43 missing students, manipulated the investigation. Instead, try to follow and find the truth, they just were focused for the last two years in the theory about the Guerreros Unidos, the small gang in Iguala, and the Mayor and the Municipal Police they... the Pahari just was focused in these lines of investigation. Instead of investigating the battalion, the army, and the Federal police. This is one of the most important conclusions of these documents. In this document the Internal Affairs area of the Pahari, ordered to investigate to the Capitan Crispo(?) one of the most important members of the army in Iguala. They are ordered to investigate him, because his connections with the organized crime.

The second point that is very important in this documents, is that for the first time, this Internal Affairs area ordered to investigate not just to the Capitan Crispo, also to all the Army, to all the 27 battalions, because their connections -- not just because maybe omissions in that night -- also because they could be a part of the attack and also abuse of authority against the students that night.

The third point that is very important in this report, is that also the Internal Affairs area is ordering that at least two Federal police should be arrested immediately because they were involved directly with the disappearance of the students.

The fourth point that is key in the story, is that all this story related with the students were killed and burned in a landfill in Cocula, and the remains were supposedly were found in the river San Juan, all these official story... the story that the Mexican government called, "La bagat Historica"(?) of the case, is not real -- these documents said, is not real. Is not true in this version. The rest of the people that supposedly murdered and burned the students, were arrested illegally. All their depositions doesn't have any value... how can I say, any judicial value. And also they were tortured. They are saying, these reports are saying, that all the inspections in the River Cocula, were in the Cocula River, were not legal and not just not legal, the document is saying that maybe all the proof, including the remains, were manipulated by the authorities. This authority, the head of all these inspections and all this work done in the Cocula River, grass, Tomás Zerón de Lucio, he was the head of the Agency of Criminal Investigations inside the Pahari. And this document is saying that Tomás Zerón de Lucio didn't follow the law. He broke the law, and also the team that works with him that day, and also that he forced to give some declarations, depositions and forced to the witness to go there, breaking all the rules to be able to do that... so, yeah.

GREGORY WILPERT: It sounds like this is a very explosive report and I'm wondering two things. One is, you know, why has the report not been released? And then secondly, has this report... the leaking of this report, gotten any attention in Mexican media? So first, why hasn't it been released? What is the government saying about it?

ANABEL HERNÁNDEZ: Well, I don't know why... what the government is saying about it. I mean, I don't know the official version of why the documents were hidden by the Mexican government. What I know, is the internal version about this. I talked with people that were directly involved in these investigations. And I can tell you that they told me when I got access to these documents last September; some people that was involved in this investigation told me that when they finished their work, and they showed these documents to the Attorney General, in that moment was Arely Gómez. She said that is better to not release and not make public these documents because it should be better if the people that work in this investigation manipulate, change some of the conclusions because the conclusions were very uncomfortable for the government. Why? Why? Why is the real deep reason why -- because the government didn't want to release these documents, even to the relatives of the 43 missing students?

I think, it's a key fact on all this, if all the story... if all the story about Cocula, the landfill in Cocula is not real, is false, if all this story about how the Mexican government supposedly found the remains of the student Alexander Mora in the river, if these two stories are false, why the Mexican government had in their hands the remains of Alexander Mora? I mean, the proof that the Mexican government want to use to close the case now, is the proof that incriminates the Mexican government, because there's no reason.

Now the Mexican government has to explain, well, if the Internal Affairs say that all these stories are false, they have to explain why they have the remains in their hands. And I think is the key point of the issue. And that's why they didn't want to release these documents because, I mean, of course, it's not just the destruction about the official version, is directly incrimination against the government. That, I think, that is the reason why the Mexican government didn't want to make public these documents, and is the same reason why it's very important to make them public.

GREGORY WILPERT: And has it gotten public attention at all in Mexican media? That is in broader, the mass media that, you know, not just you know, the progressive media, but also in the mainstream media in Mexico?

ANABEL HERNÁNDEZ: I think that now even the official media have to talk about this case. I can tell you that the last Saturday I decided, as a journalist, to release one of the documents. The documents about Cocula and San Juan River -- I decided to put it in a web page, of the book "La Verdadera Noche de". And now everyone, you, in Mexico, everyone can read these report and make their own conclusion. I mean, read the report. Don't believe me. I mean, make your own conclusion and you will find the same things that found, the New York Times. I mean, this document is very important, and now it's released. Now everyone can read it. And I think this release has been very uncomfortable for the government, because the government, as you know, after the publication of the New York Times tried to say, "Well, the document exists but doesn't exist." I mean, it's not legal yet.

Now the document is open to everyone. Everyone can get their own conclusions, and the government now has to give answers. Okay, what would you do with this, about the conclusions of these documents? I mean, this is the big question to the Mexican government. And I think that this is why these documents now are released, one of them. I will release the second one, the big one, in the next weeks, in the next days. And I think that now the debate is open in Mexico and no one can still hide the truth.

GREGORY WILPERT: Hmm. And what has the reaction been from the family members? Are they responding to this report, and in what way? What are their next steps?

ANABEL HERNÁNDEZ: I had a meeting with the relatives of the 43 missing students, and with the students of the school last Sunday. And they asked me to go to the school to Ayotzinapa, to give and inform about my investigation as a journalist. I have my investigation as a journalist and they were very shocked about, that even the government promised to them to give them the report, the report about the Internal Affairs Office of the Pahari. The government denied, didn't want... at the end they didn't want to give them these documents. And when they were able to know through me, which was the content of this document, they were very shocked. They were very moved. They were very sad. The feel very frustrated because I think these families, for the last two years, even all the confrontation with the government, they really want to trust in the government.

Now they can see that they cannot trust and they are urging, they are asking, they are demanding, to the government to open all the documents and be transparent and be honest about all this information.

GREGORY WILPERT: Well, thanks so much, Anabel, for being with us today. We're definitely going to continue to follow this story and we'd love to have you on again.

ANABEL HERNÁNDEZ: Thanks to you.

GREGORY WILPERT: And thank you for watching The Real News Network.




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