Tens of thousands of people angered by the presumed massacre of 43 students are marching in Mexico City as part of another day of nationwide protests.
Protesters on Thursday waved blackened flags of Mexico and many chanted for the resignation of President Enrique Pena Nieto. “He will fall, he will fall, Pena Nieto will fall,” they chanted.
Some protesters clashed with riot police near the city’s international airport at the start of the day’s demonstrations, burning tyres, throwing firebombs and launching firecrackers at police.
Thursday’s protest was the latest protest over the government’s handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006.
The case has turned into the biggest challenge of Pena Nieto’s nearly two-year-old presidency, on top of another scandal over a mansion his wife bought from a government contractor.
‘Mexico is hurting’
The crisis erupted after the mayor of the city of Iguala allegedly ordered police to confront students on September 26, sparking a night of violence that left six people dead and 43 missing, authorities say.
Prosecutors say corrupt police delivered the 43 young men to members of the Guerreros Unidos drug gang, who confessed to killing and incinerating the students.
Officials stopped short of declaring the students dead pending DNA tests. Federal police teams continue to search for them in the southern state of Guerrero, where the students vanished.
Recent demonstrations have turned violent, with protesters burning the door of the capital’s National Palace and torching government buildings in the state of Guerrero
With the annual parade called off, Pena Nieto led a ceremony with top officials at the Campo Marte military field, where he and the defence minister denounced violent protests.
“Mexico is hurting, but the only path to soothe this pain is through peace and justice,” he said, hours after making all of his personal assets public to quell conflict of interest allegations over his wife’s mansion.
Defence Minister Salvador Cienfuegos said violence “only leads to national failure, social backwardness, ungovernability, instability.”
NOTES FROM THE FIELD
|Adam Raney in Mexico City|
November 20 marks 104 years since the Mexican Revolution in 1910. But many are marking it this year in the capital and other cities by demonstrating against the government for its handling of the case of 43 missing students and for ongoing corruption and impunity in Mexico.
The students disappeared in southern Guerrero state on the night of September 26 after they were attacked and abducted by local police who allegedly handed them over to a drug gang.
The government says members of the gang admitted to killing the students and incinerating their bodies. But protesters are calling on the government to keep searching for the students.
Just months ago President Enrique Peña Nieto was hailed in the international media as a reformer who could possibly save Mexico from its raging drug war that has left some 100,000 dead and an estimated 30,000 other disappeared or missing.
But now, he finds himself in the biggest political and humanitarian crisis of his term.