Tens of thousands of people dressed in black have marched through Mexico City in the largest demonstration yet against the government’s response to the disappearance and probable massacre of 43 student teachers seven weeks ago.
The march was marked by an outbreak of violence as a small group of protesters clashed with riot police in the city’s central Zócalo plaza. Earlier ion Thursday there had been battles between police and protesters who were trying to blockade the airport.
The disturbances threatened to overshadow the overwhelmingly peaceful march, in which bubbling anger was channelled through noisy chants that drove home the depth of the growing political crisis facing President Enrique Peña Nieto.
These included counting in unison from one to 43, followed by a single cry of “Justicia.” Protesters also intoned the historical chant dating back to the dirty war against leftist dissidents of 40 years ago – “They took them alive. We want them back alive” – as well as the more combative “It was the state.” There were also constant calls of “Get out Peña.”
The students disappeared on 26 September after they were attacked and arrested by municipal police in the southern city of Iguala and then, according to the subsequent federal investigation, handed over to a local drug trafficking gang and then probably massacred. They had gone to Iguala, from their radical teacher training college about two hours drive away, in order to commandeer buses to use in a later protest. The attacks initiated by the municipal police also left six people dead.