A protest over the Ayotzinapa disappearances in Oaxaca, Mexico. (Image: Montecruz Foto, CC BY-SA 2.0)
Latin America: Week in Review, Mexico, North America

Mexico Marks Ayotzinapa Anniversary With Prosecutor for Disappeared

September 25, 2015 By Staff

Top Story — Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto on Thursday said he will appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the fates of thousands of missing people, days before the one-year anniversary of the disappearance of 43 students from a teacher-training school in the town of Iguala in Guerrero state.

A spokesman for Peña Nieto made the announcement after the president met with the families of the 43 students, the BBC reported.

During their Thursday meeting with the president, the family members made eight demands, including an international inquiry into the disappearances and a probe into the initial investigation led by then-Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam, who stepped down following persistent criticism over his handling of the case, which some critics have described as deliberately misleading.

Peña Nieto reportedly told the family members he would consider these demands, The Associated Press reported. In the meantime, the president has promised to appoint a special prosecutor with a team of investigators to look into forced disappearances, a frequent subject of criticism in Mexico.

As the BBC notes, a probe by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights found several inconsistencies in Murillo Karam’s account — that police detained the students in Iguala on their way to a demonstration and later handed over to a local gang, who killed them and incinerated their remains.

The family members also demanded a probe into the role, if any, of the army in the disappearance. Several investigations in the past year have suggested local military officers at least knew of, if not abetted, the students’ abduction.

The students went missing one year ago on Saturday. Their case sparked nationwide protests over the tens of thousands of Mexicans who have gone missing and the near-total rates of impunity that murderers and kidnappers experience.

Just Published in Latin America News Dispatch

  • LAND staff writer Nicki Fleischner reports on Pope Francis’ visit to New York City, and his engagement with undocumented immigrants there.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • Mexican judicial authorities have confirmed that the number of people held in connection to drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán’s escape from federal prison has risen to thirteen.
  • The U.S. border control agent who shot and killed a Mexican teenager in 2012 was indicted for murder by a federal jury Wednesday.
  • The father and brother of award-winning Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Gómez Monteverde — married to former Miss USA, Ali Landry — were found dead after they were kidnapped in Tampico over two weeks ago.


  • The Pope’s visit to Cuba this week may have indirectly contributed to Colombia’s peace process, according to the AP, due to the Colombian rebels’ desire to announce their agreement while the Pope was still in Havana.

Central America

  • Guatemala President Otto Pérez Molina’s downfall was a long time coming, argues a piece in The Nation, which examines the general’s rise to power and recent ousting.
  • Violence in Costa Rica is expected to reach “pandemic” levels this year, according to authorities, in part due to the country’s role as a cocaine transshipment point controlled by Mexican cartels.


  • Amid growing concerns over the curtailment of free speech in Ecuador under President Rafael Correa, documents obtained by BuzzFeed News reveal that Correa took millions of dollars out of the country’s intelligence budget and used it to remove videos critical of him and his wife from social media.
  • In a major win for Bolivia over a century-old dispute with Chile regarding a strip of coastal land, the United Nations’ International Court of Justice ruled on Thursday that Bolivia’s claim for the land can be heard — rejecting Chile’s claim that the international court had no jurisdiction over this dispute. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet expressed dismay over the decision, saying that the border dispute had been resolved in a 1904 treaty.

Southern Cone

  • Critics and opposition leaders in Argentina reacted strongly on Thursday to the announcement by Daniel Scioli, the ruling party’s presidential candidate and President Cristina Fernández’s chosen successor, that he would not take part in an upcoming national debate.
  • In a reversal for the Brazilian real’s five-day free-fall, the currency on Thursday strengthened against the dollar, following an announcement by the president of the country’s central bank that he is willing to employ Brazil’s foreign reserves as a means to stabilize the currency.

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