‘Where are our boys?’ Thousands rally in Mexico 1 year after 43 students kidnapped in Iguala

Demonstrators take part in a march to mark the first anniversary of the disappearance of the 43 students from Mexico's Ayotzinapa College Raul Isidro Burgos, in Mexico City, September 26, 2015. © Henry Romero
Thousands of people filled the streets of Mexico City on Saturday to remember 43 students presumed killed by a drug gang in 2014, after corrupt local police allegedly handed them over. Protesters are demanding a new probe from the Mexican government.

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About 3,000 police officers were deployed in Mexico City, where the central avenues Paseo de la Reforma, as well as several other streets in the center, were blocked because of the mass demonstrations.

“Where are our boys?” and “We are lacking 43!” said the protest banners.

A year after the tragedy, which tore Mexican society apart, parents of the kidnapped students are still seeking justice and demanding a new investigation.
 
“We can’t rest in our search,” Felipe de la Cruz, the spokesman for the families said as cited by AFP.

Although scores of local police were arrested or questioned in the aftermath of the mass kidnapping, protesters believe that authorities were also involved in the incident and must be brought to justice. An independent investigative report in December implicated Mexican Federal Police in the alleged massacre and also claimed that the federal government was aware of the situation as it was developing.

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Iguala’s mayor and millionaire businessman José Luis Abarca Velázquez and his wife Maria de los Angeles Pineda Villa were arrested in November after fleeing the town following the incident. The mayor is currently facing trial for two 2013 murders and the death of 6 people on September 26 in a confrontation with police before the kidnapping, while his wife is being probed for involvement in organized crime. Independent investigators, however, allege that the two directly ordered the attack on the students.

The parents of the students are also dissatisfied with the lack of response from the Mexican president, Enrique Pena Nieto.
 
“I feel very hopeless because the government did not give us a response,” said Cristina Bautista, mother of one of the disappeared students. “From the experts we have gotten a lot, from Pena Nieto, nothing.”

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“We will advance investigation in accordance with the law and ensure that the perpetrators will face a trial,” Pena Nieto wrote on his Twitter page today. “A year after the tragedy I reiterate my commitment to truth and justice,” he added.
 
“We are on the same side; we are searching for the truth together,” the president told the parents on Thursday.
 
He also ordered the establishment of a special prosecutor’s office designed to investigate Mexico’s more than 20,000 disappearances.

The kidnapping took place on September 26, 2014 when several buses heading south from the Mexican city of Iguala were attacked by the local police. They were carrying students from Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College to a protest against discriminative government hiring and financing practices. Three students as well as three bystanders were killed.
 
What happened after that remains unclear. According to Mexican officials, police sent 43 kidnapped students to a drug gang named “Guerreros Unidos” (“United warriors”) that executed the young men, allegedly confusing them with their rivals.

Saturday’s rally was the latest in a series of demonstrations demanding an additional investigation into the case. On February 26, Mexico witnessed mass protests ending in clashes between police and protesters.

READ MORE: Violent arrests as hundreds rally over 43 missing students in Mexico (VIDEO)