A study by Mexican scientists shows the government is lying about the kidnapping and presumed murder of 43 students.
On September 26, a large group of students from the Ayotzinapa teachers college were attacked by police in the town of Iguala, state of Guerrero. Six people were killed by the police in the attack; 25 were wounded and 43 others were taken and have not been seen again.
After delaying 10 days after the events before taking over the investigation, Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam held a show-and-tell press conference November 7 claiming the crime had been solved.
He presented videotaped testimony from three hitmen from the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel. They claimed the students had been killed and cremated in the municipal dump of the neighboring town of Cocula. A central claim in the presentation was that the bodies had been so thoroughly cremated in a funeral pyre that burned from midnight until the middle of the next afternoon that only one small bone fragment had been found that showed any hope of being identifiable. A week ago, a European lab reported that DNA analysis showed the bone fragment belonged to Alexander Mora, one of the students.
Pictures of the site released by the government are enough to raise questions about the official story. According to Murillo Karam, the fire burned for at least 15 hours at temperatures of up to 1600°C (2900°F). Yet a few weeks later the surrounding vegetation showed no scars from the hellish heat. Adding to the skepticism was the statement a a team of forensic anthropologists from Argentina, that --at the insistence of the parents of the missing students-- the government grudgingly allowed to access much of the investigation. These experts said they had not been allowed to observe the initial search of the Cocula site and could not vouch for the government's claim that the bone fragment identified as belonging to one of the students had been found there.
And now, the report by Mexican scientists shows the official story is simply absurd.
According to the government, wood, tires, plastic, diesel fuel and gasoline were all used to feed the fire.
But the academic study shows that at least 33 tons of firewood would have been needed for the funeral pyre, if only wood had been used. If it had been made solely out of tires, at least 995 would have been needed, and two-and-a-half tons of steel would have been left behind as well as rubber deposits that seeped into the ground. And if gasoline, diesel or fuel oil had been used, hundreds of gallons would have been needed.
Whatever the proportion or mix between the various fuels, they could not have been delivered to and suitably arranged into a funeral pyre in the hour or two between when the students were captured and when, according to the government account, the cremation started. Especially not around midnight at the end of a dirt road that ends in a ravine at the bottom of which the cremation supposedly took place.
Nor are tons of firewood, hundreds of tires or gallons of fuel readily available in rural areas in Mexico on Friday nights, even if they could somehow have been magically delivered and arranged into a funeral pyre for 43 students at the bottom of the ravine.
And even if there was such a cremation, there would have been many more bone fragments, especially from the skulls and hips, than were found.
This adds new dimensions to a central unanswered question about the massacre at Iguala: why?
Why were the students attacked? Why were they forcible disappeared? And why is the central government lying about what actually happened if it is true, as it claims, that this was simply a crime carried out by local authorities affiliated with a (supposedly) left-wing opposition party and the drug cartels?