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Families Of Missing Students Meet With Mexican President, Demand Answers

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Families Of Missing Students Meet With Mexican President, Demand Answers

Latin America

Families Of Missing Students Meet With Mexican President, Demand Answers

Families Of Missing Students Meet With Mexican President, Demand Answers

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/360019768/360019769" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto met with relatives of the 43 missing students. For more than six hours, he listened to the families' frustrations over the slow pace of the investigation.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Mexico sadly is used to endless drug-related violence. Still this next story stands out. Last month, students at a teaching college in the southern town of Iguala were attacked and then kidnapped by police, under orders from the local mayor. Yesterday parents of the 43 still-missing students met with Mexico's president for more than six hours demanding the government do more to find their children. From Iguala, here's NPR's Carrie Kahn.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: It's been more than a month since the 43 students disappeared. Felipe de la Cruz Sandoval, whose son is missing, said for the family members, that means more than 30 days of insomnia, no eating - hell. In anguish, he shouted into a microphone last night to reporters jammed inside a Mexico City human rights office.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FELIPE DE LA CRUZ SANDOVAL: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: How is it, he said, that with all the power of the state, they still cannot find our sons? Sandoval was one of dozens of relatives of the students who met with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto earlier in the day at the official residence Los Pinos. After they left, Pena Nieto spoke on live television.

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PRESIDENT ENRIQUE PENA NIETO: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: I understand the families' impatience, said the president, but soon the investigation will uncover the whereabouts of the students. Last month police from the towns of Iguala and Cocula, located in the southern state of Guerrero, attacked the students. Six people were killed. The 43 students were kidnapped, and according to authorities, all were handed over to a drug gang.

Mexico's attorney general says the order to attack the students was given by the mayor of Iguala who is now a fugitive. The case has sparked widespread protest throughout Mexico and highlighted the violence and corruption still prevalent in many parts of the country.

Yesterday much of the search for the students centered around Cocula. A helicopter circled over the small town near Iguala where the students were abducted. Investigators were focusing on a ravine in the municipal dump. Earlier in the week, the attorney general had intimated the site might contain human remains, but later he backtracked and declined to comment about what was found there.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JESUS MURILLO KARAM: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: In an effort to show skeptical residents they were serious about solving the case, dozens of soldiers and federal police yesterday went door to door urging residents' cooperation. Several local camera crews were invited to follow the forces. Community police volunteer Napoleon Hernandez says he has no confidence in the investigation which he says has been too little, too late.

NAPOLEON HERNANDEZ: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: Hernandez, whose volunteer group has discovered more than two dozen clandestine graves in the region, says the authorities spend all their time pointing fingers at each other instead of finding the students. For their part, officials say they have made progress. Fifty-six people are under arrest in the case, and authorities say they anticipate more soon. But many say the investigation has been bungled and authorities are arresting innocent people. Delia Melina Canto says her brother was taken away by soldiers in the middle of the night last Wednesday. Canto says she saw her brother in prison. His nose was broken, his cheeks bruised and his hands swollen. She says he was tortured into confessing he had a role in the case.

DELIA MELINA CANTO: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: Why, she asks, are they trying to blame innocent people? Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Iguala, Mexico.

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