On September 26, 2014, 43 Mexican students from a rural teachers college in the town of Ayotzinapa were disappeared. While Mexico was, at the time, in the midst of a wave of violence, this attack shook the foundations of Mexican government and society.
The undisputed facts of the attack spawned widespread outrage: The victims were first-year students from a rural teachers college that catered to serving poor students. By all accounts, they were unarmed - and they were shot on and then hauled away by members of the local police. The investigation seemed mired in delays and bureaucratic dysfunction from the beginning, and state officials were accused of inaction and complicity.
Mobilizations followed that some forecasted would topple Mexican President Peña Nieto’s administration. Broad swaths of Mexican society - office workers, laborers, a group of mothers with baby carriages - took to the streets demanding that the students be returned to their families, and that justice be served. The loudest voices in the international community, including the United Nations, the Organization of American States and many foreign governments, joined these calls, and eventually an international group of experts was brought in to conduct an independent investigation.
Despite these mobilizations and calls for justice, however, the case remains unsolved. While two students’ remains have been identified, there are essentially no leads into where the other students might be. While fingers have been pointed at local officials, a local drug cartel, police, and the military, the perpetrators have not been determined.
Why, despite local, national and international outrage, has this case not been solved? What does this imply for the powers and possibilities of human rights principles and laws? What does it tell us about Mexican politics, justice, and the capacity of the state?
This timeline provides a chronicle of the events after September 26, 2014 to help us answer these questions. We have systematically gathered information about the actions of key participants in this pivotally and historically important event. We intend for our work to be used both for students learning of the events in Mexico for the first time, and for researchers seeking to make sense of the causes and outcomes of this tragedy.
This timeline was constructed after reviewing a total of 334 documents, which were issued by state and non-state actors with a key role in the investigation of the disappearance of the 43 students. Main sources of information include statements from the government of the State of Guerrero, Mexico's General Attorney, Tlachinollan, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, the Argentine Forensic Team, and the United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearances. In addition to these official documents, the timeline also draws from over a hundred newspaper articles. These articles help chronicle the reaction from civil society.