Congressman Lowenthal And Colleagues Call for Truth and Justice on the Fifth Anniversary of 43 Mexican Students’ Disappearance

September 26, 2019
Press Release

Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) joined with nine of his House colleagues today to mark the fifth anniversary of the forced disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, Mexico by sending a letter to the Mexican government offering support for President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s recent efforts to bring truth and justice to the families. At the same time, Members of Congress raised strong concerns about the ongoing failure to secure convictions in the case, and urged further progress in the face of setbacks.

In September 2014, 43 Mexican student teachers from Ayotzinapa, Mexico, disappeared while traveling to Mexico City. To date, the remains of only one of the students has been positively identified. In the past five years at least 80 suspects have been arrested, though no one has yet been tried or convicted.

Since their disappearance, the Congressman has been monitoring the efforts to find the students and bring to justice those responsible for this crime. This included supporting the work of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights who provided technical assistance to Mexico’s government in the initial investigation of the case. He has also repeatedly urged officials in the U.S. State and Justice departments to cooperate with the Mexican government investigations. In August of 2017, Congressman Lowenthal traveled to Mexico to meet with the families of the disappeared, as well as human rights advocates and Mexican officials regarding the case.  

In the letter sent today to Mexico’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marcelo Ebrard Casaubon, the Congress Members express that they remain troubled by the lack of progress in the Mexican government’s investigation into what happened to the students.

The Congress Members acknowledge that new Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has made resolving the Ayotzinapa case a priority for his administration, and that his government has taken significant steps to strengthen support for the families of the victims. The letter also describes the Obrador Administration’s creation of a Commission for Truth and Justice to supervise the case as “an important step to move the case forward.” The Members continued, “We particularly commend the important role given to the victims’ families and the civil society organizations that legally represent them in the Commission, as this provides the families with a direct mode of participation in the case.”

The letter also commends the fact that the Mexican government has welcomed the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to provide additional international assistance and oversight for the case, as well as applauding the June 2019 creation of Special Investigation and Litigation Unit to handle the case.

While applauding the recent progress on the case, the letter adds that the Members remain, “…concerned by the lack of any convictions for those responsible for this crime and the recent absolution of a key suspect in the case given the irregularities in the evidence presented against him, including evidence obtained through torture.” The letter further notes that this case is only one of more than 47,000 registered disappearance cases in the country. We remain concerned that the vast majority of these cases remain unresolved, with most victims still missing.

The letter concludes, “As the Mexican government works to address this disappearances crisis, we are committed to supporting this important effort to bring truth and justice to the families of the 43 forcibly disappeared students from Ayotzinapa and the thousands of other families across the country desperately searching for answers about the fate of their missing loved ones.”

Click here to read the entire text of the letter.