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Mac Margolis

Mexico Can Be Murderous. Just Ask Its President.

After the scandal in Iguala, Mexico doesn't look so reformed.
Has Mexico really changed?

Has Mexico really changed?

Photographer: Omar Torres/AFP/Getty Images

Just a couple months ago, Enrique Pena Nieto was on a roll.  The young, telegenic Mexican leader had crossed the aisle to pass a bold suite of economic reforms designed to remake the country's infrastructure. At last, Mexico seemed ready to change the stale conversation over the failed war on drugs to embrace progress and modernization. "There is no return to the past," Pena Nieto said.

Then came Iguala, a small semi-desert town in Guerrero State in the Mexican southwest. On the evening of  Sept.26, police intercepted buses carrying dozens of students from a nearby teachers college to town for a protest. What happened next is still unclear, but apparently Mayor Jose Luis Abarca, fearing the rebel students would sabotage his wife's speech in the town square, reportedly called on amigos in the local narco gang, Guerreros Unidos, said to be on the city payroll. When the night was over, six people lay dead and 43 students were missing, now presumed murdered.