Thousands of people have taken to the streets in Mexico City on the eve of the county’s Independence Day to demand the resignation of President Enrique Pena Nieto.
Protesters waved blackened flags of the country and signs reading, “Pena Nieto INEPT, RESIGN for the good of Mexico!” while rallying in the Mexican capital late on Thursday evening.
“We have nothing to celebrate,” said activist Ignacio Del Valle. “On the contrary, the motive of our presence in this protest of dissatisfaction is just this: to repudiate Pena Nieto.”
The protesters criticized the president's handling of drug violence and corruption as well as his meeting with US Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump.
Riot police blocked the roads, preventing demonstrators who were shouting “resign now” from reaching the National Palace, where the president traditionally stands on a balcony the night before the national holiday.
Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto and his family greet people as Mexico marks the 206th anniversary of Independence Day in Mexico City on September 16, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)
Among the protesters were the parents of the 43 students who have been missing since September 26, 2014 after participating in a protest in the southwestern city of Iguala, Guerrero State.
Angry with the government’s poor handling of the case, the parents shouted “Pena out!” while holding signs reading, “We’re missing 43. State crime!”
According Mexico’s Attorney General Arely Gómez González, corrupt police officers had abducted the students and delivered them to a drug gang. The gang had then reportedly slaughtered the students.
Demonstrators were also angry at the president for having hosted Trump late last month.
Mexican President Nieto (L) and US presidential nominee Donald Trump prepare to deliver a joint press conference in Mexico City, August 31, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Trump has described Mexican refugees to the US as “murderers” and “rapists” and vowed to build a wall on the US-Mexico border to stop them from entering America. Trump has also insisted that he would have Mexico pay for the wall.
The Mexican president has seen his approval ratings go down in the recent past, particularly after Trump’s controversial visit. He has also been under fire for a series of corruption scandals.
He became Mexico’s president for a six-year term in December 2012.