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Violence Breaks Out At Protest For Missing Mexican Students


People keep protesting in Mexico. It's been cold. It's been rainy - doesn't matter. Mexico City saw violent clashes on the streets between riot police and tens of thousands of demonstrators just yesterday. They're furious over the government's response - or lack of response - to the disappearance of 43 college students who are presumed murdered. NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: At dusk yesterday, under a steady drizzle and cold wind, tens of thousands of marchers stretched for miles down Mexico City's grand Reforma Boulevard and filled the historic Zocalo plaza.


KAHN: Protesters shouted the struggle will continue. One group unfurled a large Mexican flag dyed black. Catia Miguel marched with her two daughters, both in high school.

CATIA MIGUEL: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: I came out because every day there seemed to be more disappearances - more repression. But she says more importantly, I came out because those kids they murdered could have been mine.


KAHN: The now familiar chant - they took them alive, we want them returned alive - was repeated constantly through the immense crowd. Authorities say the students were murdered by drug traffickers and their remains burned and dumped in a river. Marcher Ana Carina Suaste says most people understand that the students are probably dead.

ANA CARINA SUASTE: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: But she says the chant symbolizes not a return of the students but a return of our country to one with justice.


KAHN: Marches directed most of their anger at President Enrique Pena Nieto, chanting demands for his resignation. This has been a tough week for the president. He's had to deal with continuing protests, which he called orchestrated efforts to destabilize his administration's reform agenda. Then he tried to dismiss allegations regarding a multimillion dollar mansion his wife is buying from a well-connected contractor as full of falsehoods. The first lady addressed the allegations personally in a recorded video.


ANGELICA RIVERA: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: I'm here today to defend my integrity, my children's and my husband's, said Angelica Rivera. The former actress detailed her financial dealings but failed to address whether the contractor who built and financed her home received any special favors. Pena Nieto also divulged his own personal finances, totaling more than $3 million, although he listed some properties as donations from family members. Political analyst Denise Dresser says that the first couple's defensive stance shows how out of touch they are with the anger brewing in the country.

DENISE DRESSER: They're simply adding fuel to the fire of the crisis they don't seem to understand how to solve because the basic principles of accountability and transparency are not part of their mental math.

KAHN: While analysts say it is highly unlikely that the president would resign, many are surprised that there's been no shakeup of the cabinet or pronouncements of major security initiatives. Marches at the protest say they've lost faith in this government. University freshman Bidiana Martinez says students just want the chance to make Mexico better.

BIDIANA MARTINEZ: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: We want Mexico to be known as a country of engineers, lawyers, professionals - something positive, she says, not just as a country known for massacres and corruption. Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City. 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 NPR.org.
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