Thousands of people marched. Thousands chanted. And thousands made their indignation very clear. Students in particular came out in massive numbers to show their solidarity with the students who went missing in Ayotzinapa last month.
The vast majority of protesters simply wanted to let the government know that they are not just going to forget about these students. They wanted to tell their ‘elected’ officials that they were not going to allow politicians to push yet another crime under the carpet. They wanted to simply demand justice.
Since the dictatorial PRI returned to power in 2012 after 12 years out of government, the number of political prisoners has risen. Grassroots social activists campaigning against government dispossession of their land (in cahoots with multinational corporations) have been arrested (see here). On the march today, I personally saw one group of protesters demanding the freedom of Marco Antonio Suástegui (for more, see here, here and here ). There are also people languishing in prison for having taken up arms to protect their communities from the murderous drug cartels that plague Mexico (see here and here).
For those who had simply confused these activists with organised criminals (as a result of misinformation and pro-government propaganda in the media), or who had simply never heard of them, the events of Ayotzinapa (and the rage they have inspired) have made it increasingly difficult for citizens to ignore the corrupt and violent government behaviour that has become the norm in Mexico.
The parents and relatives of the missing students (who are feared dead by many) represent best the sentiments that are growing in the Mexican populous, though. In the Zócalo – the main square of the capital city – these desperate relatives told the crowd of thousands that they were sick of all of the political parties, and that they wanted ‘bad government to die’. One even said that, if the whereabouts of the students were not revealed in the next few days, he would himself rise up against the government. Anger is understandably running through the community where these students were kidnapped, and it has spread into Mexico City too.
Many thousands made it clear that, at the very least, the governor of Guerrero (the state where the students disappeared) should be removed from power. They also blamed President Peña Nieto for the situation currently prevalent in the country, and asked for him to step down from his position.
When Galeano, a Zapatista teacher, was killed in Chiapas back in May by government-backed paramilitaries, Zapatistas spoke of the dignified rage they felt, but also of their “desire for justice rather than revenge”. They knew that it was the government and the capitalist elite that controlled it which had attacked their communities (albeit through desperate, ignorant mercenaries), and they knew that justice would only come by fighting against the capitalist system. It seems that, judging by the march in Mexico City today, there are many thousands of people who feel the same way.