The political fallout from the case of the 43 disappeared students in southern Mexico took a dramatic turn last night when President Enrique Peña Nieto got locked in a tense, four-hour meeting with the parents of the missing youths before caving to their demands by signing an agreement to redouble search efforts and address other related issues.
Peña Nieto told reporters afterward that the government would not allow for "any chance of impunity” in the Ayotzinapa case, and expressed his solidarity with the parents.
“I would like to publicly recognize this moment, which was allowed me to listen to the feelings of each one of the relatives, their expressions of pain and anguish, of consternation and indignation, which I personally share.”
Peña Nieto also agreed to improve the harsh living conditions at the public teachers' colleges that the missing students attended. That had been one of the issues the youths were protesting on the night they disappeared on Sept. 26.
The grieving parents were not entirely satisfied with the outcome. In an emotional press conference that followed their meeting with the president, parents told a packed room of reporters that they will not rest until they know what happened to their children.
"As parents, we don't trust the work of the government. It's been more than 30 days of desperation as they search for the youths, don't find them, and don't tell us anything that would lead us to believe they are any closer to their objective," said Elip de la Curz Sandoval, a mother of one of the missing students.
Student spokesman David Fores Maldonado struck a similar tone.
"What happened at the meeting today for us was just simple promises," he said. "We want actions. We want our colleagues back."
Vidulfo Rosales, a human rights lawyer who represents the students and the parents, said the agreement requires the government to support the families of students that were were killed or injured in the incident, seek technical assistance from international organizations, call off any investigations against the students, and improve cooperation with the Argentine Forensic team involved in the search.
"The Ayotzinapa case is not limited to what happened on the 26 and 27 of September," Rosales said. "There is a series of acts of systematic oppression against the school that the state and federal governments have participated in."
Human rights activists are also demanding an end the pervasive corruption and narco-infiltration of local police and government in the state of Guerrero.
"Ayotzinapa is an example of a criminal state, there is no other explanation, human-rights activist Mario Patron Sanchez said during a press conference. "Ayotzinapa has to be a turning point, a point of no return. Ayotzinapa is not the only case of forced disappearances in our country. We are talking about thousand and thousands of disappeared people in our country. This is all the response the state is capable of giving?"
@JaredGoyette is a digital news editor at Fusion.