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Jhosivani Guerrero de la Cruz (c.1994 - c. 2014) was a young man who was one of the 43 students abducted on September 26, 2014 in Igula, Mexico by local police and cartel members. His remains were located shortly after and were identified in 2015.

Early Life

Jhosivani Guerrero de la Cruz was the youngest of seven brothers and came from a small village hidden in the Guerrilla Mountains called Omeapa. Omeapa had only 200 people living in it, was fifteen minutes from Tixtla, and had few public services. Nicknamed 'Korean' because of his ripped eyes, de la Cruz dreamed of going to the United States like his father and older brother, Ivan, did, but chose not to because he did not wish to leave his mother alone. According to his family, "He was looking for an opportunity to excel, he aspired to have a profession and help the community, because in Omeapa they send teachers who are not from here, they are from afar, and they are teachers who do not put enough interest in children." He tried to enter a public university in Puebla, but the distance (four hours and thirty minutes) and the cost made him change his mind. To pursue his dream, de la Cruz went to the tuition-free Rural Normal School of Ayotzinapa in Tixtla. To study, the young man had to walk four kilometers to board a bus to take him to school. His responsibilities as a new student included work on planting crops, tending the school animals, and help raise funds for the school's activism by taking over highway booths by soliciting donations and commandeering buses to carry students to events.

Kidnapping

de la Cruz was one of about a hundred students who commandeered several buses at 6:00 PM in order to travel to Mexico City to commemorate the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre. On the way there, the were stopped by Iguala municipal police force at around 9:30 PM reportedly on the orders of the mayor José Luis Abarca Velázquez by using gunfire and roadblocks. A chase between the buses and police ensued in which six people were killed, three of which were civilians in unrelated buses or taxis. After the shootings, 43 students, including de la Cruz, were arrested by the police and turned in to the police in Cocula. It is then believed the students were given to Guerreros Unidos, ("United Warriors"), a criminal gang that splintered from the now-defunct Beltrán-Leyva Cartel, and were presumably killed.

Investigation

In January 2015, former Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam said it was the “historic truth” that the bodies of the students, including de la Cruz's body, had been incinerated in a huge fire at a garbage dump in Cocula and their ashes were tossed into the San Juan River. However, this version of events have not been accepted by experts and the families of the students. One mother specifically said in 2014, “How is it possible that in 15 hours they burned so many boys, put them in a bag and threw them into the river? This is impossible. As parents, we don’t believe it’s them.”

Since the mass kidnapping, eighty suspects, forty-four of them police officers, one of them being Iguala's police chief Felipe Flores Velásquez, have been arrested. Iguala Mayor Abarca Velázquez and his wife have been named the masterminds behind the kidnappings by Mexican authorities although neither have been put on trial for it. In June 2020, the leader of the Guerreros Unidos, José Ángel Casarrubias Salgado, alias "El Mochomo" was arrested for and is believed to be responsible for the mass kidnapping and murder of the students. Some have accused the Mexican Federal Police and the 27th Infantry Battalion of the Mexican Army to have been involved, with journalist Anabel Hernandez claiming two of the buses held heroin the students did not know about and the said-battalion's colonel was ordered by a drug lord to intercept the drugs; the students were killed because they were witnesses to the event. This has not been proven yet, however.

The mass kidnapping and the lack of answers to what happened has also drew international condemnation and protests. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights assembled a panel of experts who conducted a six-month investigation in 2015. They concluded the that the government's claims on the matter were "scientifically impossible".

Before de la Cruz was identified, Alexander Mora Venancio, 19, was identified in December 2014. Interestingly, De la Cruz's mother was shown Venancio's remains and was told those were her son's remains. She removed the sheet covering the body and said, "This is not my son." Venancio was identified later.

Another student, Christian Rodríguez Telumbre was identified in June 2020. Shortly after, Omar Gómez Trejo, head of the special unit of the Attorney General’s Office, made the announcement on July 7, 2020 that the case is still open.

Identification

de la Cruz's remains were found in a garbage dump outside of Cocula. The remains were sent to the University of Innsbruck in Austria for DNA analysis and were identified in September 26, 2015.

Gallery

Sources

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