Years before 43 young men from the Ayotzinapa teachers’ college were attacked and forcibly disappeared in Iguala, Guerrero, the Mexican military had the school under surveillance and considered its students to be subversives, according to internal communications and documents from the Mexican armed forces published today by the National Security Archive.
The military records also reveal that Mexico’s National Defense Ministry worked to shield the institution from civilian scrutiny during the investigation into the disappearance of the 43 students; that military intelligence routinely lumped together dangerous drug traffickers and parents of the missing students in the same reports on “conflict” in Mexico; and that Mexico's Defense Secretary oversaw a propaganda campaign to discredit the parents, their lawyers, and a group of experts assigned to assist in the case by a United Nations commission.
The 20 documents posted by the Archive today are among an estimated four million emails and records that were stolen from the Mexican Defense Ministry (Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional—Sedena) by an anonymous collective of hackers known as “Guacamaya.” Following Guacamaya’s leak of the massive data set in late September 2022, journalists in Mexico and elsewhere have used the six terabytes of information to publish a steady stream of breaking-news stories about diverse topics, including:
- The Mexican military’s current use of the Israeli surveillance platform “Pegasus” to spy on human rights activists by infecting their mobile phones, despite President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s repeated public assertions that his government does not spy on journalists or political opponents;
- The surveillance of feminist groups by the Mexican military from 2017 to the present;
- Joint intelligence operations by U.S. counternarcotics agents and Mexican military personnel to target criminal organizations trafficking fentanyl;
- The Defense Ministry’s plan to create an enormous new tourism business – administered by the Mexican military – that would include parks, museums, hotels, and a new national airline.
As part of the National Security Archive’s long-term investigative project on the Ayotzinapa case (and the podcast we co-produced with Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting), the Archive has spent months examining the data set for references to the Ayotzinapa School, the night of the attacks in Iguala, the disappearance of the students, and the investigations that followed. Today's posting is an initial selection of documents from this data set intended to give our readers a sense of what we are learning about the Mexican military’s internal communications related to Ayotzinapa.