Authorities' detailed, careful autopsy of one of the 43 students missing since a September protest in the state of Guerrero stands in stark contrast to the opaque, haphazard way this government has dealt with organized crime since it came into office in 2012.
Mexico's Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam said in a December 7 press conference that the remains found in a garbage bag full of mostly ashes were those of Alexander Mora Venancio, a 21-year old student teacher who was traveling with 42 others to a protest on September 26, before Iguala municipal police intercepted them and handed them to the criminal organization known as Guerreros Unidos.
In addition to his detailed statement of the process -- which included the work of Argentine forensic specialists who sent some of the remains to a university in Innsbruck for analysis where the body parts were subject to 16 different tests -- Murillo provided the actual autopsy report (see below) and said the process was filmed.
Murillo added the government has arrested 80 members of the Guerreros Unidos and 44 of the 60 police that are wanted for questioning in a case that has become the defining moment of the Enrique Peña Nieto presidency. Iguala's mayor and his wife have also been arrested, and the Guerrero governor has resigned due to the scandal.
InSight Crime Analysis
The government's open and seemingly thorough investigation of the massacre has been laudable. Ironically, these same open and thorough means of looking at this particular case make the rest of the government's treatment of organized crime cases seem cursory and trivial.
Rarely do Mexicans get to see inside an investigation. Now that they can see everything, they are wondering why the government does not take this kind of care with every investigation, and why it takes a tragedy to wake up to a reality that the government has spent millions of dollars trying to hide.
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Peña Nieto promised to restore the country's image, but in burying the issues related to organized crime, he inadvertently built a volcano of discontent. That volcano erupted with the disappearance and apparent deaths of the 43 student protestors.
The government has been slow to recognize the eruption. It took the president over two months to even visit the site of the massacre.
But winning the country's faith will take more than just political showmanship. It will take a few more Iguala-quality investigations.