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      Parents of Missing 43 Students Angry and Frustrated After Meeting Mexican President

      Parents of Missing 43 Students Angry and Frustrated After Meeting Mexican President Parents of Missing 43 Students Angry and Frustrated After Meeting Mexican President Parents of Missing 43 Students Angry and Frustrated After Meeting Mexican President
      Photo by Rebecca Blackwell/AP

      Crime & Drugs

      Parents of Missing 43 Students Angry and Frustrated After Meeting Mexican President

      By Melissa del Pozo

      Parents of the 43 Mexican students who disappeared a year ago emerged from a meeting with President Enrique Peña Nieto just as skeptical of the government's commitment to finding their children as they were when they went in.

      "It's the same thing over again," Epifanio Alvarez, one of the parents, remarked at a press conference held in Mexico City's central Zócalo plaza after the meeting. "The president received the document we gave him, but he did not sign it. I believe that means he can't commit."

      Alvarez was referring to a written list of eight demands that the parents brought to their second conference with the president since their children went missing in the southern Mexican city of Iguala on September 26, 2014, after they were attacked by police. The first meeting, last October, ended with the parents complaining that Peña Nieto did not appear to understand the depth of their pain.

      Their list of demands included the creation of an internationally-backed special investigative unit within the Mexican attorney general's office, charged with adding a new urgency to the search for the students. The parents also said the new unit should pursue the public officials responsible for the government's investigation so far, which they described in the document as "theatre."

      The call for an investigation of the government's investigators stems from the parents' long-standing distrust of the official version of what happened to their children.

      They were particularly incensed by the government's conclusion, released last November, that the students were massacred in a garbage dump and their bodies burned to little more than ashes on a pyre at the same site.

      Their suspicions, anger, and hope that their children might still be alive were fueled this month by the release of a major report written by a team of international experts sponsored by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The report dismissed key parts of the official version, including the possibility that the students were incinerated in the dump.

      "Instead of seeking justice and the truth, it was all a lie," the parents said in the document they brought to Thursday's meeting, which was also attended by four of the experts who wrote the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights report.

      "We went today to try and make the government take off its mask, be transparent and help us find our children," one of the mothers said at the press conference. "But our government just gives us more psychological blows."

      In a series of tweets sent from his account following the closed-door meeting, Peña Nieto was much less negative.

      "We are on the same side and that we want the same thing: to know what happened to every single one of your children, and for justice to be done," Peña Nieto said in one tweet. "I assured them that the investigation is still open and will not be shelved," he said in another.

      The president also said he had ordered the creation of a special prosecutor for cases of disappearances. At their press conference, the parents rejected this as insufficient and too general for their purposes.

      "We completely repudiate the meeting," declared Felipe de la Cruz, a spokesman for the parents. "We went because we thought he would sign a real commitment."

      The meeting took place with emotions running high ahead of the first anniversary of the disappearance of the students, which turned the parents into the figureheads of a national protest movement against crime and government corruption.

      The parents, who began a 43-hour fast on Wednesday, are due to lead a major demonstration in Mexico City on the anniversary itself this Saturday.

      Follow Melissa del Pozo on Twitter: @melissadps

      Topics: americas, mexico, politics, ayotzinapa, students, iguala, guerrero, human rights, disappearance, police, rubbish dump, crime & drugs, enrique peña nieto, inter american commission on human right, guerreros unidos, forced disappearances

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