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Relatives of 43 missing students in Mexico seek answers one year later

Estanislao Mendoza was one of dozens of Mexicans to go on a hunger strike. His son, Miguel Angel Mendoza Zacarias, was one of 43 students abducted on Sept. 26, 2014, in the southern state of Guerrero.

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Estanislao Mendoza was one of dozens of people to go on a hunger strike camped out on Mexico City’s Zocalo.

His son, Miguel Angel Mendoza Zacarias, was one of 43 students detained and abducted the night of Sept. 26, 2014, by local police in the Mexican city of Iguala, in the southern state of Guerrero.

On the eve of the first anniversary of the students’ disappearance, some family members this week vowed to go without food for 43 hours in protest of the government’s response to the mass disappearance. The hunger strike began at 7 p.m. Wednesday and is expected to end Friday afternoon.

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“We’re very disappointed with the government. They haven’t helped us the way that they should have,” Mendoza said in an interview with The Times on Thursday.

Mendoza’s son was one of the students pulled off buses and detained by local police last year. None of the students has been seen since, and their parents contest the official government investigation into the incident.

A recent independent investigation by a working group created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights confirmed their suspicions, and found many faults and omissions in Mexico’s government inquiry.

Relatives of the missing students met with Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto on Thursday to discuss their missing children.

The president assured the families that the investigation by Mexico’s Attorney General’s office remains open, according to a statement by his spokesman Eduardo Sanchez. The meeting was closed to the press.

Sanchez also said that during the meeting, Peña Nieto promised that authorities would pursue some of the lines of investigation recommended by the report – one of which suggests that the buses commandeered that night by the students may have been packed with secret stashes of either heroin or cash, destined for the United States.

Legal proceedings studied by the working group indicate that the Guerrero Unidos (Warriors United) drug gang that controls some of Guerrero is one of the big suppliers of heroin in Chicago, and one of its cells transported the drugs from Mexico via passenger bus lines.

Mexico’s president also vowed to create a special prosecutor’s office focused on the investigation of cases involving missing people, according to Sanchez. The latest government figures show that there are more than 25,000 people missing in Mexico.

Sanchez said Peña Nieto told the family members: “We’re on the same side. You and I are looking for the same thing. “

Bonello is a special correspondent.

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