Mass protests rage on in Mexico over students

2014-11-21 09:11
Riot police surround protesters who had clashed with police during a march near the airport in Mexico City. (Marco Ugarte, AP)

Riot police surround protesters who had clashed with police during a march near the airport in Mexico City. (Marco Ugarte, AP)

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Mexico City - Thousands of demonstrators marched through Mexico City late on Thursday and converged on the city's main square, calling for justice over the fate of 43 missing students.

The protest was led by relatives of the students from Ayotzinapa teacher's training college, who went missing from the city of Iguala in the impoverished state of Guerrero in September.

"You took them from us alive, we want them back alive", the demonstrators called. They also repeatedly chanted the word "justice" as they passed by a monument to independence on a boulevard in the Mexican capital before the main rally on central Zocalo square.

Authorities believe the 43 students were killed after local police in Iguala, 200km south of Mexico City, chased and arrested them. According to suspects who have been arrested in connection with the case, they were then handed over to the criminal gang Guerreros Unidos, who murdered the students, burned their bodies and threw the ashes into a river in the belief that they were members of a rival gang.

Ahead of the protest police in Mexico City said they planned to keep a low profile, but said they would intervene in case of "major risks".

Some rioting occurred, but it was on the sidelines of the demonstration.

20 000 missing

"I am marching today because I have had enough of the ignorance of the authorities and the arrogance of the elite", Pero Molina told dpa. "Forty-three of my comrades have disappeared and the state does nothing."

"I would like to be proud of my country, but how should that go when things like Guerroro happen?"

Hours ahead of the mass protests some stores in the historical centre of Mexico City closed their doors and put up metal protection fences.

Omar Ortiz, a member of the student council at Ayotzinapa college, told dpa that he hoped the rally would launch a national movement to seek alternate forms of government. The country needs "self-government", he said.

"Mexico's institutions are now definitively messed up", Ortiz said.

He said the country has already forgotten previous "massacres" including the deaths of 49 children in a fire at a public daycares centre in Hermosillo in 2009, and the murders of 15 young people at a party in Ciudad Juarez in 2010.

"We have forgotten so very many massacres. This cannot continue to happen", Ortiz said.

The number of missing people in Mexico is 20 000.

"It's not just the 43, there are thousands. We said that from the start. Let's hope this grows and gets through. We are not selfish: This is a serious problem within the country", he said.

Thursday's demonstrations in Mexico City were set to close off a series of mostly peaceful rallies that started last week in northern and southern Mexico.

A skirmish occurred near Mexico City's international airport on Thursday between people who threw Molotov cocktails and incendiary devices at police.

At least 15 demonstrators were arrested. In San Cristobal de las Casas in southern state of Chiapas looters entered several shops and threw bags of ink at the city hall.

Read more on:    mexico  |  abductions

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