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Parents Of Missing Mexican Students Don't Believe Official Story


Parents of 43 students, who were kidnapped and presumably murdered in Mexico, continue to press officials there to find their sons - that's despite revelations this week that one student's remains have been identified. Relatives say they don't believe the government's account that the students were murdered and that their bodies burnt beyond recognition. NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: For the parents of the missing 43, news that remains of one of the students had been identified did not bring them closure or solace or persuade them to stop protesting. Yesterday, several dozen were in the capital confronting congressional leaders.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: This mother, who didn't give her name on the official Senate's video of the testimony, says what is happening now, returning our children in pieces, that's not going to work. We want our children alive and we want them now, she says. Mexico's attorney general says DNA from a tooth and a bone retrieved from where authorities say the students were murdered and incinerated matched one of the missing 43. They say that other remains found in the same place may be too badly charred to identify. That news did not sit well with the parents, most of whom cling to the hope that their sons are still alive.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMEN: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: In Omeapa, Guerrero, a group of mothers, some wrapped in threadbare shawls, pray in a small church. In this farming village, home to some 100 families, three of the missing students come from here. Natividad de la Cruz Bartolo is mother to one of the three. Her son, Emiliano, would be 23 now. She shows me into their house and into his room.

NATIVIDAD DE LA CRUZ BARTOLO: (Speaking Spanish) This is his room.

KAHN: In the corner sits a small, white plastic table with two lit candles and several photos on top. She picks up one wrapped in plastic. It's from Emiliano's kindergarten class.

BARTOLO: (Speaking Spanish).


BARTOLO: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: He was so little in kindergarten, she says. Emiliano was born premature. I had to feed him with a baby dropper and he almost didn't make it those first two years, she says. Through tears, de la Cruz says he got stronger, made it through school and into college, where he was going to be a teacher and have a better life.

BARTOLO: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: We went through so much, she says. Why - so all this could happen to my son? De la Cruz says she doesn't believe the government's version of what happened to the students. None of it adds up, she says. How could they burn so many bodies without a trace? She believes Emiliano is still alive.

BARTOLO: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: We will keep searching, investigating and pressuring until they tell us what happened and until we get justice. As we walked back to the town center, she turns to me and says when Emiliano comes back we are going to celebrate with a big party. You'll come back, she asked me. Sure, I say. I'll be there. Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Omeapa, Guerrero. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Carrie Kahn is NPR's International Correspondent based in Mexico City, Mexico. She covers Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. Kahn's reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning news programs including All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and on