|Photo: Via Creative Commons on Flickr|
The Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (Equipo Argentino de Antropologia Forense, or EAAF), was founded in the mid-1980s when a team was formed to investigate the remains of disappeared families in Argentina. Since that project, EAAF has expanded its work to over 30 countries and helped form the Association of Latin American Association of Forensic Anthropology (ALAF). The two organizations have worked jointly in Guatemala, Bolivia, Spain, Colombia , Mexico and other countries. The joint work of EAAF and ALAF in Mexico dates back to the early 2000s, when the EAAF was asled tp participate in an international seminar titled "Truth Commissions: Torture, Reparations, and Prevention." Recently, EAAF was asked to assist a new Special Prosecutor investigating cases of people disappeared for political reasons during the 1960's and 1970's. Over the past several years, EAAF members worked in the state of Chihuahua on a project to exhume, analyze, and attempt to identify the remains of over a hundred individuals associated with the investigation of murdered and disappeared women in Ciudad Juárez.
The EAAF's mission statement explicitly states that the objectives of the team are to cater to the wishes of relatives of victims and their communities, and that "the team's track record in international tribunals displays a deep and sincere dedication to truth and “the historical reconstruction of the recent past, often distorted or hidden by the parties or government institutions which are themselves implicated in the crimes under investigation."
Even though President Enrique Peña Nieto's administration requested the intervention of the EAAF, family members of the victims are relying on the Argentine experts for truth and justice because of deep distrust of police and government authorities. Melitón Ortega, a relative of one of the missing students, has publicly expressed his distrust of state involvement in the investigation, representing a general attitude among his community members that the police and the government are the last people they want in charge of investigating this site.
So will the Argentine team succeed in helping relatives of the students arrive at the truth? The task might be difficult. A slew of reports in the last week have revealed that the Argentine forensic team has had difficulty accessing the grave site, where state and federal authorities are tightly securing the area.
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