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Families of Ayotzinapa massacre victims march in Mexico City

Family members of the victims expressed guarded relief thanks to recent developments in the case, but said there is still lots of work to be done to bring them justice.

MEXICO CITY (CN) — After what Hidla Legideño and other relatives of the 43 victims of the Ayotzinapa massacre had been through over the last eight years, Friday’s downpour was no obstacle. They continued to march and chant as the rain fell in buckets halfway through their march.

Her son Jorge Antonio Tizapa Legideño was one of the students of the Ayotzinapa teachers’ college who was kidnapped and murdered in September 2014 in what the Mexican government finally admitted was a crime of the state last week. 

The families march each month on the 26th, to commemorate the night their sons, brothers and nephews were forcibly disappeared in Iguala, Guerrero, but Friday’s march was the first since the indictment of former Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam in relation to the case.

A federal judge Wednesday indicted Murillo on charges of torture, forced disappearance and crimes against the administration of justice, a move Legideño considered a step in the right direction.

“For us, it’s an advancement,” she said after addressing a crowd of around 300 rain soaked protesters, members of the media and current students from the Ayotzinapa teachers’ college.

Hilda Legideño, mother of one of the 43 Ayotzinapa victims, speaks at a march in Mexico City on Friday, Aug. 26, 2022. (Cody Copeland/Courthouse News)

Murillo fabricated what was called the “historic truth” of that night in September 2014, according to a report released last week by the Commission for the Truth and Access to Justice of the Ayotzinapa Case, an interdepartmental investigative committee created by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

“We hope he gives more information,” said Legideño. “Since he was attorney general and gave us the ‘historic truth’ that they made up, he should know what really happened to our sons.”

While she believed the government’s admission that the tragedy of that night was a crime of the state was also a positive development, it was also something of which she and other protesters were certain for years.

“The mothers and fathers need scientific proof,” she said. “We can’t accept preliminary studies that don’t fully clear up what happened to our sons.”

The sentiment was shared by others who have supported the families of the victims throughout the ordeal.

Current students of the Ayotzinapa teachers' college march in the rain on Friday, Aug. 26, 2022. (Cody Copeland/Courthouse News)

“We already knew that since the beginning,” said Javier Ramírez Espinosa, who came from neighboring México state to attend the march, as he has done since 2014. “We’ve been fighting against these administrations, and unfortunately, they never said anything. We hope they really find justice in this case, but there’s still a lot to do.”

Six-year-old Alexander Morra Figeroa Nuñez expressed his support by dressing in army fatigues and carrying a sign reading, “It was the state.” He attended the protest with his grandmother Carmen Juárez.

“Those dogs disappeared my uncles,” he said, though he is not related to any of the victims.

“He calls them all his uncles,” said Juárez. “We hope they continue making arrests and that they bring Murillo to justice. If he’s being a detriment to justice, they have to carry through.”

The sentiment was echoed in a statement given to members of the media as the rain died down to a drizzle at the end of the march.

Six-year-old Alexander Morra Figueroa Nuñez protests in army fatigues and a sign that reads, "It was the state," at the march for the victims of the Ayotzinapa massacre on Friday, Aug. 26, 2022. (Cody Copeland/Courthouse News)

“Murillo Karam conducted a shady, irregular investigation plagued with torture, manipulation and planted evidence, thus constructing a lie that impeded the knowledge of the whereabouts of our sons,” the statement read. “It is important to not allow the illegal actions of such civil servants to go unpunished, which is why we’ll be watching the penal process of this person closely.” 

While Murillo’s arrest and the publication of the commission’s report put some wind in their sails, Legideño and the others will continue to do what they have been doing since 2014.

“We haven’t had peace since they disappeared our sons,” she said. “It helps that we’re seeing advances, but the main goal is to know about our children, and unfortunately, we still don’t.”

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