Mexican president makes first visit to city of disappearance

AP News
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Posted: Feb 24, 2016 3:58 PM

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Wednesday made his first visit to Iguala, the southern Mexico city where the disappearance of 43 students created one of the most difficult scandals of his term in office.

The city is known as the cradle of the Mexican flag and Pena Nieto visited on flag day. At a ceremony heavy on military pomp, Pena Nieto made brief reference to the events that unfolded on the night of Sept. 26, 2014, when the students from a rural teachers college vanished after being seized by police. Six other people were confirmed killed.

Pena Nieto said those events showed the necessity for Mexico to continue advancing on a road pegged to the rule of law and institutions and said that the government has sought justice "through a deep, transparent and open investigation, including with the collaboration of international entities."

On Sunday, one of those entities, a group of international experts sent by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, criticized the government's second investigation of the case, complaining of leaks and limited access to information.

The experts group earlier had largely demolished the government's initial account of the events: that local police loyal to a corrupt mayor had turned the students from the Rural Normal School at Ayotzinapa over to members of the local Guerreros Unidos drug cartel, who then incinerated in a massive fire at a dump in nearby Cocula. The group said all evidence contradicted the possibility of such a fire and complained that other lines of investigation had been ignored.

On Wednesday, Pena Nieto said Iguala cannot continue to be marked by the tragedy. "Its people deserve to be known for their strength, their warmth and their firm character." He said his administration was working with Guerrero's governor to "create conditions of security and development for its people."

But many families are unable to move on. Following the students' disappearance, Iguala became a gathering point for more than 200 other families from the region who had also had family members disappear in recent years.

Despite a heavy military and federal police presence, killings and disappearances have continued around Iguala.