President Enrique Pena Nieto told the families of 43 students who disappeared a year ago in southern Mexico during a meeting Thursday that he would create a new special prosecutor for all of the country's thousands of missing people.
Eduardo Sanchez, the president's spokesman, told reporters after the closed-door meeting that the families had presented eight demands and that Pena Nieto had instructed his Cabinet to analyze each and get back to them.
More than 25,000 people have disappeared in Mexico between 2007 and July 31, 2015, according to the government. The students' disappearance on Sept. 26, 2014, brought the issue back into the spotlight.
Vidulfo Rosales, a lawyer representing the families, said they "totally reject" the creation of a special prosecutor for all of the country's missing. He said the case of the 43 missing students requires its own special prosecutor.
Among the families' demands are a new internationally supervised investigation of the disappearances and an investigation of into those responsible for the initial inquiry, which the families believe was intended to mislead them.
Pena Nieto did not agree to any of the families' demands and the only commitments he offered were ones they had already heard, Rosales said.
After the meeting, families, students and activists gathered in Mexico's historic central square waving signs with photos of the missing students and demanding that Pena Nieto stepped down. Some had vowed a 43-hour fast, but none appeared satisfied with the president's response.
"It was a requirement to go and see him," said Cesar Gonzalez, a father of one of the students. "Unfortunately... the government has never given us anything besides psychological blows."
The students were teachers-in-training at Ayotzinapa Normal School, in Tixtla, Guerrero — a school that caters to the rural poor and is known for political activism. They disappeared in the city of Iguala. They had gone there to commandeer buses that they wanted to use to attend a commemoration in Mexico City.
The federal government has said local police from Iguala and the nearby town of Cocula illegally detained the students and turned them over to the local drug gang Guerreros Unidos, which then allegedly killed them and incinerated their remains.
The families have never accepted that version.
The government has said that it has identified two of the students from the burned remains recovered from a river in Cocula.
A team of international experts sent by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which spent six months reviewing the government's investigation, found a number of shortcomings and points of concern, according to a report released Sept. 6. Specifically, it concluded the bodies of 43 students could not have been burned at the garbage dump in Cocula as the government maintained.
Attorney General Arely Gomez earlier said that portion of the government's investigation would be reviewed with assistance from top international experts. Sanchez confirmed Thursday that international experts would be involved in a third investigation of the alleged incineration site.