Last week the visit of Eduardo Ibarrola, the Mexican Ambassador to the Netherlands, to Leiden University was met by protest from Mexican students. The subject of the protest was the lack of progress in investigations into the disappearance of forty three students in Iguala.
The ambassador, who was at the university to give a lecture on Mexican foreign policy, arrived to find banners demanding justice for the missing students as well as photographs of their faces displayed outside the lecture building. The students also read a letter denouncing the “impunity of the Mexican government” which they later presented to him.
“Until today there has still be no independent enquiry into this case, this letter implores the president of Mexico and the ambassador of Mexico to the Netherlands to address recommendations by the UN committee on disappearances. This applies not just to the 43 assumed murdered students but also to the estimated 23,000 Mexican who have disappeared, possibly at the hands of the Mexican regime since 2007”.
After listening to the student’s complaints, the ambassador responded by condemning the disappearances and denying that those responsible would escape justice.
“I will certainly convey this letter to Mexico immediately. Of course as a Mexican, I condemn absolutely what happened in Iguala. I firmly believe that there is not going to be impunity at all, there are a lot of people that have been arrested and are facing justice in Mexico and I am positively sure that this (impunity) is not going to happen – at least not at the hands of the federal government of Mexico. We unfortunately have a terrible problem of organised crime because of the situation of drugs and many other crimes, but we absolutely reject what happened and are absolutely against impunity and I don’t think that is what is going to happen”
The forty three students went missing on the 26th September last year while on their way to protest against government funding policies. It is unclear what happened to them although the Mexican government believes that local police arrested them and handed them over to the Guerreros Unidos criminal gang, who then murdered them. Statements from arrested gang members indicate that the student’s bodies were burnt at a local rubbish dump, however so far only one has been identified. The case has resonated across Mexico with protests around the country. Many of the protesters question the official account of the story and believe that the state may be involved in a cover-up.
During the lecture the ambassador addressed several other topics including Mexican migration to the United States, the problem of poverty and Mexican relations with Cuba.
The ambassador was dismissive of the wall being constructed by the USA along its border with Mexico saying “the wall is useless. It is being constructed for politicians and it is not stopping irregular migration and it is not stopping drugs.” He went on to discuss the need for Mexican labour in the USA saying “They need the Mexican labour force, When I was in Washington the leaders of the chamber of commerce told me that they were supporting immigration reform…The problem is that migration is a very politicised topic.”
The ambassador also gave his opinions on the subject of poverty in Mexico and how to beat it. “We have to fight poverty but it is not easy. Tourism could be a solution, Mexico is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. But first of all to attract tourists what you need is security – if you don’t have security people don’t want to come to your country.”
The ambassador had positive things to say about his country’s relationship with Cuba saying “Mexico has been very close to Cuba for centuries, relations with Cuba have always been very good.” He also sees opportunity now that relations between Cuba and the USA seem to be improving however has concerns about potential competition with the island nation. “Our business community has been exploring the possibility to invest in Cuba, in tourism, restaurants, you name it. However, Cuba is going to open up to the international tourist market and well, they are going to compete with Mexico – Cuba is a very beautiful country.”
Eduardo Ibarrola has been the ambassador to the Netherlands since 2012 having previously served in the USA and Guatemala. He is also a permanent representative to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
tags: Mexico, Ambassador, Netherlands, Eduardo, Ibarrola, Leiden, University, protest, Iguala, Migration, Cuba, USA, Foreign, Policy