Parents of the 43 slain teacher-trainee students march on the 10-month anniversary of the massacre. (Image: PetrohsW, CC BY-SA 4.0)
Latin America: Week in Review, Mexico, North America

Mexico Authorities Make New Arrest in Ayotzinapa Case

September 18, 2015 By Staff

Top Story — Mexican authorities on Thursday announced the arrest of a drug cartel lieutenant they say is responsible for incinerating the bodies of 43 students who disappeared in September 2014.

A Guerrero state prosecutor announced that Gildardo Lopez Astudillo was arrested on Wednesday for drug trafficking, organized crime and extortion, The Associated Press reported. Mexico’s National Security Commissioner Renato Sales called him an “intellectual author” of the September disappearances, which prompted nationwide protests over insecurity and land impunity.

Astudillo is accused of informing his boss in the Guerreros Unidos gang of the detention of the 43 students, who were travelling on the night of Sept. 26 to a protest in the Guerrero city of Iguala.

Mexico’s authorities, as the AP notes, have continued to face criticism over alleged inconsistencies in the official account of the disappearances, including by international observers who have questioned the narrative which blames Guerreros Unidos.

Adding to the uncertainty over the true fates of the 43 students is the fact that the majority of the students’ remains have not been discovered; on Wednesday, authorities announced they have identified the remains of a second victim, although a team of forensic scientists from Argentina have called those results into question, the AP reported.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • Seven people were found dead following a shootout between alleged gang members and a rural self-defense group in the Mexican state of Michoacan.
  • Austrian forensic experts claim to have identified the remains of a second Mexican student missing from last year’s abductions and purported killings in the town of Iguala.


  • Cuba has announced the appointment of the country’s first ambassador to the United States since 1961, veteran diplomat José Cabañas.
  • The number of Puerto Ricans leaving for the U.S. mainland surged to a record 64,000 last year, according to a new report from the U.S. territory’s Institute of Statistics.
  • Cuban diplomats met with their U.S. counterparts on Thursday in Haiti’s capital city, where U.S. doctors were providing medical care for poor families — a sign of the warming diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba.

Central America

  • Hundreds of indigenous Miskito gathered in Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, to prepare for the funeral of indigenous leader Mario Lemans, who was the latest casualty in ongoing land conflicts on the country’s Atlantic Coast that have left 10 dead this month.
  • An investigative report by Prensa Libre has found that MS-13 gang members in Guatemala are investing their earnings from extortion into legal enterprises, signifying the gang’s gradual evolution into a criminal enterprise in that country.


  • Researchers discovered an extremely well-preserved 2,700-year-old tomb — which they have informally christened Tomb of the Serpent Jaguar Priest —in the Cajamarca region of Peru, housing the remains of two Pacomapa high-priests.
  • FARC rebel leaders announced on Thursday their intent to move towards becoming a legitimate political organization — the first time the group has made such a statement since peace negotiations began in 2012 — in a process that will include reparations for victims.

Southern Cone

  • A local court in the Argentine province of Tucuman has annulled a gubernatorial election held on Aug. 23 due to ballot irregularities, thus challenging Argentina’s governing party’s hold on the province and giving the opposition a boost ahead of the presidential elections in October.
  • Political parties and politicians in Brazil can no longer accept financial contributions from businesses after the country’s Supreme Court banned all forms of corporate financing on Thursday — a decision that will most likely be challenged by President Dilma Rousseff.
  • The Brazilian opposition has filed an impeachment request on Thursday after accusing President Dilma Rousseff of manipulating government funds to finance her 2014 re-election campaign.

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