The case of three film students kidnapped on March 19 in the municipality of Tonala remains unresolved.
The students’ whereabouts are still unknown, as is what sort of entity – cartel or law enforcement – was involved in the abductions.
And despite Jalisco Governor Aristoteles Sandoval’s assurance that no stone remains unturned in the investigation into the matter, those connected to the disappeared – by both scholastic and familial bonds – have expressed misgivings in regards to the state’s supposed commitment to providing some sort of resolution for the victims’ family, friends and colleagues.
Javier Salomon, Marco Avalos and Daniel Diaz, all film students enrolled at UdeG’s Universidad de Medios Audiovisuals CAAV and in their early 20s, were taken off the street in Tonala at 8 p.m. by what was described by witnesses as a heavily armed commando of uniformed men in two pickup trucks.
A group of student protestors, frustrated at the perceived inaction of authorities under Sandoval’s command, convened at Expo Guadalajara, Monday, April 2, where the multi-day tech event Talent Land had just gotten underway – and where the governor was slated to speak during its inauguration.
“Today we’re here in front of the Expo to demand that the authorities give us some sort of information about the students,” said a representative of a group composed of students from, among other institutions, CAAV and ITESO, Guadalajara’s jesuit university. “It’s been two weeks since their disappearance. How much more can we stand? Enough!”
The governor expressed solidarity with and sympathy for the protestors’ cause during his inaugural speech.
“If I was a young student, I would be doing the same thing. I would be protesting for the safety of my friends and family and fellow students,” said Sandoval.
Margarita Sierra, director of CAAV, is among those who strongly suspect that the state Attorney General’s office could be doing more to keep interested parties in the loop in their investigation into the case. She believes this seeming opacity may be the result of the impending elections; information released casting an unfavorable light on the state government as a whole could be used as fodder against candidates of the ruling Partido Revolucionario Institutional (PRI), to which Sandoval belongs.
Shortly after the abductions occurred, five Tonala cops were detained by state authorities for their possible involvement in the kidnappings; they were quickly released due to lack of evidence supporting the existence of collusion. Additionally, a 911 operator was fired for neglecting to report the abductions to the municipal police, and a taxi driver was questioned when a cell phone belonging to one of the students was found to be in his possession.
Finally, in an incident that is related – perhaps - only tangentially to the disappearances, Edna Judith, aunt of disappeared student Javier Salomon, was arrested by state police for suspected involvement in a prostitution ring run out of the chain of beauty shops of which she is the owner. The woman’s legal representative has filed a complaint with the State Human Rights Commission, claiming the arrest was unlawfully carried out and violated her civil rights.