The Ayotzinapa Case
On the night of 26-27 September 2014, students from the Rural Normal School of Ayotzinapa were attacked in the town of Iguala, Guerrero, by local police in collusion with criminal organisations. Numerous other branches of the Mexican security apparatus either participated in or witnessed the events, including state and federal police and the military. Six people were murdered – including three students – forty wounded, and 43 students were forcibly disappeared.
The whereabouts of the students remains unknown, and their status as ‘disappeared’ persists to this day. Instead of attempting to solve this historic crime, the Mexican state has failed the victims, and the rest of Mexican society, by constructing a fraudulent and inconsistent narrative of the events of that night.
Forensic Architecture was commissioned by and worked in collaboration with the Equipo Argentino de Antropologia Forense (EAAF) and Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez (Centro Prodh) to conceive of an interactive cartographic platform to map out and examine the different narratives of this event. The project aims to reconstruct, for the first time, the entirety of the known events that took place that night in and around Iguala and to provide a forensic tool for researchers to further the investigation.
The data on which the platform is based draws from publicly available investigations, videos, media stories, photographs and phone logs. We transposed the accounts presented across these sources into thousands of data points, each of which has been located in space and time and plotted within the platform in order to map the incidents and the complex relationships between them. This demonstrates, in a clear graphic and cartographic form, the level of collusion and coordination between state agencies and organised crime throughout the night.
The project thus reveals a cartography of violence spanning from the street corner level to the entire state of Guerrero. It describes an act of violence that is no longer a singular event but a prolonged act, which persists to this day in the continued absence of the 43 students.
It also seeks to demonstrate the ways in which collective civil society initiatives, undertaking independent investigations using innovative analytical tools, could help investigate complex crimes and confront criminal impunity and the failures of Mexican law enforcement.
In particular, it reaffirms our commitment to heal the open wound of the Ayotzinapa case and to work until the truth of the night is clarified, and the students’ whereabouts are known.
In addition to the platform, this project will be exhibited as part of Forensic Architecture: Towards an Investigative Aesthetics from 9 September 2017 – 7 January 2018 at the Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC).
Forensic Architecture Team
Eyal Weizman (Principal Investigator)
Stefan Laxness (Project Coordinator)
Franc Camps Febrer
and Anso Studio
Juan Omar Fierro
Taller cartográfico “Ariles”
Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIJ)
Nestor Camilo Vargas
The surviving Ayotzinapa students and the families of the 43 disappeared for their tireless struggle for truth
Three years after 43 students disappeared in Mexico, a new visualization reveals the cracks in the government’s story | The Intercept, 7 September 2017
The Ayotzinapa Platform: What happened to the 43 disappeared Mexican students? | openDemocracy, 7 September 2017
In 2014, 43 students were massacred. Can digital forensics help solve the crime? | WIRED, 7 September 2017
A tres años de Ayotzinapa, un mural revela los caminos de la violencia | New York Times (Español), 7 September 2017
Desaparición forzada en Iguala: una reconstrucción forense | Aristegui Noticias, 7 September 2017
Los 43 de Ayotzinapa, una cartografía de la violencia en México | El País, 7 September 2017