Congressman Lowenthal and Seven House Colleagues Call for Truth and Justice on the 6th Anniversary of Mexican Students’ Disappearance

September 25, 2020
Press Release

Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) today, joined with his House colleagues Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Albio Sires (NJ-08) and Norma J. Torres (CA-35) to issue the following statement marking the sixth anniversary of the forced disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, Mexico:

“On the sixth anniversary of the disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa Rural Teacher’s College at the hands of Mexican security forces in Guerrero, Mexico, our thoughts are with the students’ families, who face another year without answers about their loved one’s disappearance. At this difficult time brought on by the COVID pandemic, we recognize the recent progress made in the investigation and urge the Lopez Obrador administration to use this momentum to bring truth and justice to the case.

“The Commission for Truth and Justice established by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and led by Undersecretary for Human Rights and Migration Alejandro Encinas Rodríguez deserves praise for coordinating with the students’ families and their legal representatives to further the investigation. We further recognize the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’ Group of Experts, which has provided critical international oversight and technical assistance.

“The Special Investigation and Litigation Unit within Mexico’s National Prosecutor’s Office (FGR), led by special prosecutor Omar Gomez Trejo, has led to important arrest warrants against top government officials for torture and obstruction of justice in the investigation during the previous administration. The unit was also instrumental in the recent identification of the remains of one of the students, Christian Alfonso Rodríguez Telumbre.

“While we rightly applaud this progress, more must be done to strengthen the legal accusations against several detainees and to investigate members of the security forces at all levels for their role in the students’ disappearance. For this work to move forward, we hope that the FGR's special unit continues to receive the financial support and autonomy that has been instrumental in its success so far. 

“Though the recent progress made in the Ayotzinapa case should be celebrated, we remain concerned about the broader crisis of disappearances in Mexico. The 43 students are among the more than 73,000 people who have disappeared in the country since 2006. We express our support for the Mexican government’s efforts to strengthen the National Search Commission and the establishment of the Extraordinary Mechanism for Forensic Identification. The Mexican government should ensure that the resources dedicated to the broader disappearance crisis are sufficient to meet its overwhelming scope.

“Mexico remains an essential neighbor and ally to the United States. As the Mexican government works to bring answers to the families of the disappeared, we believe U.S. support for these efforts should continue to be a key element of our bilateral cooperation. We further call on our Departments of State and Justice to support Mexican authorities in their work to resolve the case of the 43 students and in initiatives to strengthen Mexico’s criminal justice system. 

“We recognize the tireless efforts of the families of the disappeared in pursuing truth and justice. We shall continue to endeavor to uphold human rights in both of our countries.”