16 October 2014, The Tablet

Trust ‘lost’ in Mexico's institutions after dozens of students disappear

The Archbishop of Acapulco has demanded that the authorities take responsibility for uncovering how dozens of students in the town of Iguala disappeared on the way to a protest, saying the case “reaches into the political sphere”.

On 26 September police opened fire on buses carrying students to a protest over job discrimination in the state of Guerrero, west of Mexico City. Six people died and a group of 43 students went missing. The students are thought to have been handed over to a local drugs gang by the police. Several officers accused of complicity with the cartel have been arrested.

Archbishop Carlos Garfias Merlos said there had been an alarming rise in violence in Mexico and accused the state of failing to act. He was worried “about the lack of trust people feel for our public institutions which have proved they are very vulnerable to criminal organisations”. This was “doing profound political and social damage”, he said, calling for a strategy to rebuild confidence in Mexico’s institutions.

“The problems which are overwhelming people in the state of Guerrero have been made clear by this crisis,” he said in a statement published by the Mexican Bishops’ Conference. “They need to be overcome by political and social authorities working together.”

This week protesters have attacked the local government headquarters in Guerrero, setting fire to the building in Chilpancingo and demanding the resignation of Governor Angel Aguirre. Elsewhere thousands have marched in demonstrations across the country calling for justice.

President Enrique Pena Nieto made a speech on national television saying that the deaths in Guerrero and the disappearance of the students was “shocking, painful and unacceptable” and promising that those responsible would be tracked down. Archbishop Garfias called for a state law to “deal with the restorative justice” needed in these cases.

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