In Mexico, Protests Over Missing 43 Students Continue

Nov 14, 2014
Originally published on November 14, 2014 6:34 pm
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The mayor in the Mexican state of Guerrero is facing murder charges for allegedly ordering an attack on students who were kidnapped and presumed killed. It's more than six weeks since the 43 students disappeared. Human remains have been found but not yet identified as the students. Despite the charges filed against the mayor, public anger is growing over the government's handling of the case. NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Students took over several city halls in Michoacan this week. In Chiapas, they blocked highways. And in Oaxaca, protesters commandeered trucks and stole merchandise. Anger has spread beyond Mexico, too.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHANTING)

KAHN: Forty-three minutes into this week's friendly soccer match played in Amsterdam between Mexico and the Netherlands, hundreds in the crowd chanted justice, justice and held up posters with faces of the missing students.

In downtown Mexico City, housewife Lucina Carmona walks in front of the ornate National Palace, where demonstrators last weekend tried to ram the front entrance and burn it down. A dozen tall planks blocked the view of the unrepaired nearly 200-year-old door.

LUCINA CARMONA: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: Carmona says people are full of rage because of so many injustices. The case of the students has uncovered many, from corrupt politicians to murderous local cops colluding with drug traffickers, to the discovery of nearly a dozen clandestine graves with up to 30 unidentified bodies.

Mexico's Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam is receiving much of the country's wrath over the lengthy search for the students, their killers, and an investigation that has dragged on for weeks, not to mention the legal missteps, says attorney and criminal law professor Gabriel Regino Garcia.

REGINO GARCIA: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: There have been a great deal of errors, a serious sequence of missteps by the prosecutor's office, says Regino Garcia. He says the case has been spread out among judges all over the country, unnecessarily complicating the judicial process. And more troubling, he adds, the charges against key players, such as the police and the mayor of Iguala, do not reflect the gravity of the crime and appear to absolve state actors of any responsibility.

GARCIA: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: He says if prosecutors continue committing such errors, defense attorneys will use legal tactics to secure procedural stays and win their client's release. But it's the comments Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam made at his last press conference that have contributed more to calls for his resignation and the perception that he's out of touch with the country's anger.

KAHN: Hoping to end reporters questioning, Murillo Karam said, enough. I'm tired. Soon after, protesters graffitied the front of the prosecutor's building with large letters reading I'm tired of fear, and the hash tag I'm tired still dominates social media here. For his part, the attorney general defends his handling of the case. He says hundreds of officials have worked tirelessly, and more than 70 suspects have been arrested while authorities are searching for 10 more. However, one of his main suspects in custody, the wife of the mayor of Iguala, is not facing any charges. The attorney general had publicly accused her of being a principal operator in the drug gang tied to the students' killing. But she's currently only being held on a special 40-day detention, which is set to expire the first week of December. Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City.

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