A team of forensic specialists from Argentina is lending its expertise in the search for 43 missing Mexican students, at the request of family members of the victims. CCTV America’s Joel Richards reported this story from Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The disappearance of 43 Mexican students in September took place more than 4,000 miles from Buenos Aires, but the effort to solve the mystery is no less urgent. Specialists in archaeology, ballistics, and forensics at the Argentine Forensics Anthropology Team traveled to Iguala, Mexico, to work with local forensic experts to produce an independent report for the families of victims and recover remains from different graves, said Luis Fondebrider, president of Argentine Forensics Team. The remains consisted of fragments, making a complex case all the more difficult to resolve.
Last week, Fondebrider’s team concluded that the remains of 24 bodies found were not the missing students.
The Argentine team has traveled to Mexico over the past 10 years to investigate missing persons and mass graves who were killed in violence from the war on drugs.
“This is happening under [a] democracy. Historically, as in Argentina, South America, Central America, very often human rights violations happen under a military dictatorship. In the case of Mexico, in the last 7-8 years, 20,000 people disappeared, and are still missing. Many more bodies are being found in mass graves, all the time, so this [case of the 43 students] is a little sample of the situation in Mexico at the moment,” Fondebrider said.
The Argentine Forensics Anthropology Team was founded in 1984 to help identity remains of the missing from the military dictatorship in Argentina. Since then, it has worked in more than 50 countries, identifying remains for the families of victims, while also providing important evidence in trials.
DNA testing has helped revolutionize forensics, but advances in science still face challenges.
“Particularly after 9/11, and the cases in the Balkans, where massive investigations were trying to identify remains, DNA technology had advanced a lot, and today it’s a very important component in forensics, particularly in this kind of case,” Fondebrider said.
“At the same time, perpetrators are also improving the ways to destroy or hide bodies, as we see in Syria, or in Iraq at the moment, it is difficult, science is moving fast but not as fast as we want and as the families want.”
Human rights groups across Latin America have called on the Mexican government to conduct thorough investigations. They said the killings and disappearances reflect a pattern of Mexican authorities failing to address atrocities, despite efforts by scientists to shed light on the truth.