The only possible sign of the nearly four dozen students who disappeared in Guerrero, Mexico, during a clash with police last month is a mass grave with 28 bodies that many surmise constitute some of the missing youth. And guess is all anyone can do for now seeing as the bodies are so terribly burned and dismembered that it will take officials months to identify the corpses.

The confrontation between the students and authorities began over the former’s attempt to raise money for a protest against budget cuts to their local teachers college. According to The New York Times, the police are the main suspects in the abduction, which is why The Guardian’s Ellie Mae O’Hagan argues the U.S. has “blood on its hands in Mexico” too.

The reason? None other than the “extravagant amounts of military aid” sent to Mexico under the pretense of the disastrous war on drugs “with a scandalous lack of oversight.”

The Guardian:

The horror of the mass grave and the missing students must be seen in the context of Mexico’s war on drugs. [Former Mexican President Felipe] Calderón advocated a predominantly military response to the drug war, which led to high levels of support and political impunity for Mexico’s security services, which then went on to commit exactly the kinds of atrocities that appear to have been carried out against the missing students.

When [Enrique] Peña Nieto was elected, he promised a less military approach, but he has failed to seriously depart from his predecessor’s policies. This insistence on responding to the drug war militarily is ludicrous. At root its causes – both in Mexico and Latin America as a whole – are social: namely inequality, poverty and mass unemployment. According to the social development agency Coneval, half of Mexico’s population lives in poverty. Nevertheless, the country’s militaristic response to the drug war is encouraged by US foreign policy, namely in the form of the Merida Initiative, a regional security cooperation agreement that supplies Mexico with $1.9bn of military aid.

Grace Livingstone, author of America’s Backyard, says: “In the name of fighting the so-called war on drugs, the US has poured millions of dollars worth of military aid into Mexico, militarising the society and strengthening the armed forces, which already had a poor record on human rights and were notorious for persecuting social activists including students, trade unions and peasant campaigners.”

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The violence-weary Mexican people held protests across the nation Wednesday to demonstrate their solidarity with the parents of the missing youth and demand their safe return.

—Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

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