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November 1, 2023/ This week’s issue/ Meizhu Lui, for the editorial team


Gone Nine Years. “Where Are Our Children?”

Students and families protest the disappearance of the Ayotzinapa 43 on September 21, 2023. The sign reads "Where are our children?” EFE/Mario Guzmán

What could be worse than having your child die before you? Nothing, except to never know whether or not they are truly dead. For nine long years and counting, that’s the unremitting anguish of the parents of 43 Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College students. And that’s why they organize protest after protest, demanding to see their sons again, alive.


In a previous Bulletin issue, Clemente Rodriguez described his missing son’s love of folk dancing. He and the other young men were full of vitality and promise. They were caught by chance in a complex web of criminal drug activity reaching from the bottom to the top of Mexican society — from teenage gang members from poor families to elite politicians holding cabinet level positions in the Mexican government. 


But the web of criminal activity reached beyond the border. As Kate Doyle from the National Archives tells us, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), while investigating drug trafficking themselves, intercepted text messages between gang members in México and the US, including in 2014, the year of the student disappearances. The texts proved the connections between the gangs and the military, just as the public suspected. But it was 2022 before the full set of texts were reluctantly provided to Ayotzinapa investigators in México.


If the DEA had passed along the information earlier — and had it been acted on — those young men would still be gone. But maybe the questions Clemente asked would have an answer: “Are they alive? Where are their bodies?” As yet, only three students have been identified from DNA evidence, and no one has been convicted.


It’s year ten. Clemente continues to march, to demand justice. The joyful memories of his dancing son are all he has to hang on to. 


We’re excited to announce MSP member José Luis Granados Ceja’s

in-person US speaking tour!

This accomplished investigative journalist from México City spoke with hundreds of people on his East Coast tour, sparking much interest in México. He spoke about changes in México since AMLO’s election in 2018, and what they mean for México and US progressives. Walk, ride, fly — you won’t want to miss him when he comes to the West Coast, now scheduled for January/February. Stay tuned!!


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43 Missing Ayotzinapa Students:

What Did the US Know?

Kate Doyle is Senior Analyst of US policy in Latin America at the National Security Archive and director of the Mexico Documentation Project. Since 1992, Doyle has worked with Latin American human rights groups, truth commissions, prosecutors and judges to obtain from secret archives government files that shed light on state violence. She began investigating Ayotzinapa in 2017, and in 2022 she made a podcast about the case, After Ayotzinapa, with Reveal, the online journal of the Center for Investigative Reporting.

In 2014, 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Rural School were disappeared.  How did you get involved in investigating this infamous incident?


México has seen many unsolved disappearances — 100,000 documented cases — but the families of the 43 publicly organized to find their sons, and the case touched a nerve. The government’s 2015 claim to have solved the case was met with complete disbelief, and massive demonstrations forced President Peña Nieto to allow an international team to investigate.


In 2016, the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) submitted an explosive report, which proved that the government’s story couldn’t be true. The alleged murderers had confessed under torture, the supposed bones of the students were planted, and the alleged fire that incinerated the bodies of all 43 boys was scientifically impossible. After the report, the team left México immediately, fearing for their lives. 


The case was moribund for a year. But then the lawyers for the families contacted me in 2017, searching for new ways to get to the truth. Could government archives reveal new evidence?

You began filing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)s. Were the US agencies cooperative with your requests?


I’ve been filing FOIAs for 30 years while investigating human rights in Latin America, including México. I used to get the reports I requested, but after 9/11 the reports became much harder to get. Now secrecy shrouds information, even though the public has a right to know what our government is doing.

Illustration by Dante Aguilera

When the students were attacked, they were riding in buses commandeered or "borrowed" (a yearly tradition) in Iguala, Guerrero, so they could attend a demonstration in Mexico City. Local police opened fire on them, then took 43 of the boys; they were never seen again. The Mexican military has a battalion stationed in Iguala, but they did nothing to protect them. I knew the US had done trainings for the battalion, so I filed FOIAs with the State Department, the CIA, and the Pentagon.

What I got regarding Ayotzinapa was nonsensical garbage. The agencies sent press reports, which were public, and “released” unclassified documents. The documents were all heavily redacted — huge swaths of text cut out as if with an electric saw. In some cases, I was able to see two versions of the same document and got to see what was redacted — and it was ridiculous. They were using FOIA exemptions to delete unclassified information!

Did you get any new information?


In 2015, one of the GIEI experts found that eight members of the Guerreros Unidos (GU) gang, the one the Peña Nieto government said murdered the students, had been indicted in Chicago. I was amazed and asked how she found the case. She said, “by googling!” So I filed FOIAs with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). It turns out that during an investigation of heroin smuggling into Chicago, the DEA intercepted thousands of phone texts between GU members in Iguala and in Chicago.

The DEA phone texts contained a treasure trove of information. We learned that Guerreros Unidos transported drugs to the US inside hidden compartments behind the bumpers of passenger buses — just like the buses the Ayotzinapa students were riding when they disappeared. From the intercepted texts, we learned that members of the military in Iguala secretly sold weapons to the GU, and that some officers were on the gang’s payroll.

Parents of the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa protest; the sign says, “The military knows!” Luis Barron/Eyepix Group/Shutter

But though the DEA collected thousands of texts before, during, and after the night the students disappeared on September 14, 2014, there’s no evidence that the United States knew what was happening in Iguala in real time. The DEA was only interested in evidence pertaining to the Chicago case. 


By the time Peña Nieto left office in 2018, the Ayotzinapa case was four years old. Was AMLO able to make progress?


In his campaign for the presidency, AMLO promised to make Ayotzinapa a priority — and he did. One of his very first acts was to create a Truth Commission, and he appointed Omar Gómez Trejo as Special Prosecutor. Omar was exceptionally qualified; he’d been part of the 2015-2016 GIEI investigation. He knew the case well and was willing to put himself in harm’s way to help the families of the 43 get closure.

Omar Gomez Trejo resigns when indictments he issued were withdrawn without his consent.

The Commission did a decent job: they succeeded in completely demolishing what Peña Nieto called the “historical truth” — that the case was solved by the arrest of GU members. A leaked video showed Tomás Zerón, head of the Criminal Investigation Agency under Peña Nieto who was in charge of the 2014 investigation, interrogating people who had just been tortured to force confessions to the crime. A warrant for his arrest was issued, but he slipped out of the country and is living in Israel. By 2022, Gómez Trejo got 83 indictments against gang members, government officials, and military personnel.

But then, in August 2022, AMLO’s attorney general, Alejandro Gertz, asked Gómez Trejo to issue an arrest warrant for his predecessor, Jesús Murillo Karam, who had overseen the case under Peña Nieto. Gómez Trejo needed more time to build a solid case, but Gertz got an arrest warrant anyway, undermining Gómez Trejo’s authority. Gertz also unilaterally ordered the withdrawal of 20 of the 83 indictments, 16 of them of military personnel.


Public outrage erupted again. In July 2023, the warrants were re-instated. But Gómez Trejo had already resigned and gone into exile, and the new Special Prosecutor knows nothing about Ayotzinapa. We’re seeing the second collapse of the case. In nine years, the remains of only three students have been identified. As yet, no one has been convicted for the forced disappearances.


What next?


It seems as though AMLO is determined to declare the case solved before the next election. Both México and the US have been secretive. What we need is transparency, with all the facts put before the public.


In the meantime, the families of the 43 continue to be a powerful force.  They won’t stop until they find what happened to their missing sons. 

Hilda Legideño, mother of disappeared student Jorge Antonio Tizapa Legideño, holds a portrait of her son at the headquarters of the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva, Switzerland.Salvatore di Nolfi / EPA / Corbis


Collatoral Damage to Mexico:

Media Coverage of Hurricane Otis

Jesús Hermosillo is a Los Angeles-based Chicano observer of politics in the United States and Mexico. His analyses from a social justice perspective and his fact-based research refute misleading or false mainstream narratives.

The pieceUnder the headline Mexicos leader under fire after Hurricane Otis devastates Acapulco” in The Independent on October 28, the British newspaper depicted an inadequate government response to the Category 5 hurricane that struck the beach resort on October 25, killing dozens and causing widespread damage.


The claim/ The paper was one of several to falsely report that President López Obrador canceled Mexicos widely admired Fund for Natural Disasters, known as Fonden, in 2021.” In fact, AMLO only closed a fideicomiso, or trust, formerly associated with the agency, citing the discretionary account—nourished from operational savings—as a source of corruption. It also repeated a tendentious claim that Morenas presidential candidate, Claudia Sheinbaum, is AMLOchosen nominee in Mexicos 2024 elections,” as opposed to her selection being the result of official surveys commissioned by the party.


The back story/ Few would disagree that the disaster in the wake of Hurricane Otis is far more serious than anticipated, and that better planning might have included evacuations of several communities in and around Acapulco. But government preparedness levels simply reflected what was expected from meteorological forecasts, which had warned of a tropical storm developing into a Category 1 hurricane the day before making landfall. Its unprecedented speed of intensification — from a Category 1 to a Category 5 hurricane in twelve hours — signals a new era of weather extremes, a consequence of global warming.


This gave natural disaster workers little time to adequately prepare for the kind of worst-case scenario expectable from the strongest hurricane level known to science. Rescue and emergency-aid teams went to work immediately after the storm, though hampered by downed communications and flooded roads, as seen in pictures of the presidents car being stuck in mud on his way to visit out-of-the-way communities outside Acapulco. (The fact that some reporters have also pushed unsubstantiated claims that the government has hidden the real death toll — 39 confirmed deaths and 10 missing persons were reported on October 28 — is also suggestive of a level of journalistic bad faith.)


The bottom line/ Otis is a wake-up call for natural disaster specialists worldwide for what it says about the consequences of climate change. Meanwhile, that the event has given rightwing politicians and media the chance to defame the governing party, Morena, with misleading reports and analyses signals a toxic opposition campaign ahead of Mexicos 2024 elections.  



Mexican journalist José Luis Granados Ceja is currently studying human rights and popular democracy at the Autonomous University of México City. His writings on democratic struggles in Latin America appear regularly online at his social media account.

"We Got Your Back"

When I arrived at Thurgood Marshall Hall, located in the University of Marylands School of Public Policy, the schools staff warmly welcomed me and the people who organized the DC events. They were eager to show off their brand new, state-of-the-art facilities.


This venue was a change of pace from the previous days' activities. I had given a talk to union leaders and community organizers in Lynn, Massachusetts, did a book presentation at the Peoples Forum in New York City, and addressed a group of mostly Mexican newcomers organized by CASA in Maryland. 


Mexico Solidarity Project (MSP) Bulletin’s founder Sam Pizzigati had arranged for us to meet with Robert Orr, Dean of the School of Public Policy, before my presentation.  I felt somewhat uncomfortable with all this attention. After all, the MSP tour was planned as an opportunity to facilitate connections between people in Mexico and the US.  My role was to serve as a conduit for those links, rather than being the focus, the individual “expert."


Of course, opportunities to sit down and talk with influential people like Dean Orr, who once served as a United Nations under secretary-general, should not be missed. I thought to myself that people like me dont find themselves in spaces like this too often and wondered how forthright I should be about my political views. It occurred to me that precisely because people like me are not often here that I should represent exactly who I am. 


At one point I told Dean Orr, I am first and foremost an anti-imperialist, I wear that on my sleeve, and Im here to advance Mexico Solidarity Projects anti-imperialist and international mission.” Rather than write me off, Dean Orr joined with Sam, Juliana Barnet (another tour organizer), and me to brainstorm ways we could collaborate to defend Mexicos national sovereignty. 


The reception was followed by a talk for students and faculty organized by the student group La Gente. At the events end, several attendees excitedly came up to ask about how they could get involved in our work.


These sorts of encounters were repeated at every single stop on MSPs tour — roughly a dozen of them, at universities, book stores, community halls, and living rooms — and it confirmed that, despite the busy schedule and long days, this outreach work is absolutely worth it. From Boston down the coast to Raleigh, North Carolina, people were eager to learn about Mexicos Fourth Transformation, to be inspired by the significant advances made by working-class people in Mexico, to become involved in the work of the MSP, and to join the internationalist cause.


That last point was perhaps best illustrated by a comment from a local union president at a dinner in MSP member Jeff Crosbys home. After hearing about the possibility of unilateral military action by the United States against Mexico as part of US efforts to halt Morenas advancing political project, he declared loudly to everyone in the room: If the motherf**kers invade Mexico, we got your back!


Recent news reports and commentaries, from progressive and mainstream media,
on life and struggles on both sides of the US-México border compiled by Jay Watts

Mexico throws troops, aid into Acapulco as hurricane death toll rises CNBC. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said most of his cabinet was already in or headed for Acapulco, and that he would return there later to lead recovery efforts as thousands of soldiers and police descended on the city.

Miguel A. Romero, Vuelven a marchar en Ciudad de México para exigir a Israel un alto al genocidio contra el pueblo palestino De Raíz. En CDMX marcharon alrededor de mil quinientas personas del Ángel de la Independencia al Zócalo, como parte de la Segunda Jornada de Solidaridad con Palestina para exigir un alto de la “violencia sionista que oprime y asesina a civiles palestinos”. 


Journalist José Luis Granados Ceja Highlights Mexico Solidarity Project University of Maryland School of Public Policy. A central theme of Granados Ceja's talk was the defense of national sovereignty – a concept, he says, that has fallen out of fashion in an era of globalization and decreased borders but remains a critical issue for Mexico's political project.


Renata Turrent, ¿Para qué el Plan C? sdpnoticias. El plan de la 4T está sobre la mesa y que en poco más de siete meses se decida los destinos del país, incluyendo el destino de aquellas instituciones que se niegan a transformarse.


Lauren Sforza, Mexican president slams critics in wake of deadly hurricane The Hill. “They circle like vultures. They don’t care about people’s pain.”


Alejandro Páez Varela, Acuérdense de Acapulco Sin Embargo. Era previsible que la oposición busque sacar alguna ganancia política de la devastación de Guerrero (y en particular de Acapulco). Lo intentó antes incluso de que “Otis” tocara tierra como el huracán más agresivo y desconcertante del que se tenga registro.


Statement by Mexico in the United Nations Security Council on la situación in Palestine Regeneración. “No occupation is lawful and is always the result of the breakdown of the international order in contravention of the UN Charter.”


Anel Rangel, Tunden en redes a Felipe Calderón por criticar a AMLO en inglés MSN. En los comentarios se pueden leer a las personas que lo critican y le piden que no hable por los demás ciudadanos debido a que no tiene cómo defenderse ya que no tuvo el mejor gobierno del país en su sexenio.


Mexico receives 2.8 million doses of Cuban anticovid vaccines Prensa Latina. The vaccines delivery is yet another example of deepening ties between the two countries.


Las claves del acuerdo firmado en México para abordar la migración irregular RT Espanol. Las declaraciones de los distintos mandatarios, así como el texto consensuado por la decena de países, puso en el foco la política migratoria de los EE.UU.



The Mexico Solidarity Project brings together activists from various socialist and left organizations and individuals committed to worker and global justice. We see the 2018 election of Andrés Manuel López Obrador as president of México as a watershed moment. AMLO and his progressive Morena party aim to end generations of corruption, impoverishment, and subservience to US interests. Our Project supports not just Morena, but all Mexicans struggling for basic rights, and opposes US efforts to undermine organizing and México’s national sovereignty.


Editorial committee: Meizhu Lui, Bruce Hobson, Victoria Hamlin, Agatha Hinman, Courtney Childs. To give feedback or get involved yourself, please email us!

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