March on Mexico

Enrique Peña Nieto's Challenge—And Opportunity

A man holds a candle with a photograph of one of the missing 43 trainee teachers during a protest at the Angel de la Independencia monument in Mexico City, November 17, 2014. Carlos Jasso / Courtesy Reuters

Last Thursday, tens of thousands of Mexicans took to plazas and highways across the country to rail at the government. It was the largest, although certainly not the only, protest in recent days. Most demonstrations have been peaceful, but others have included burning an effigy of the president, open fighting with police forces, occupation of government buildings, and destruction of police cars and stations. Even by the standards of Mexico, where it is relatively common for mass protests to block traffic and force the closure of offices and factories, this wave of mobilization is impressive and, for the government, ominous.

The protests are, in part, a response to the massacre of 43 teaching college students last September in the city of Iguala, 115 miles south of the capital. The students were on their way to a protest when local police fired guns into their buses, corralled 43 of the students, and then handed the victims over to a local drug-trafficking gang, which executed them. According to reports, the gang members were acting under the direction of the mayor, who ordered the killings in order to stop the students from protesting at an event where his wife was scheduled to speak.

As shocking as it is that an elected mayor would cooperate with a gang to murder a group of students, what really sparked the outrage was the government’s slow and bumbling investigation, which was initially hindered by a lack of cooperation from municipal and Guerrero state police. The students’ bodies still have not been definitively found. The scouring of nearby hills and farms, however, did uncover several other unexplained mass graves, containing dozens more bodies.

On November 7, when Mexico’s attorney general ended a press conference about the killings with the words “Ya me canse” (That’s enough, or I’m tired), public frustration boiled over. The video clip and phrase instantly went viral on social media, and protests erupted around the country. Ever since, handmade signs and graffiti saying “Mexico is tired!” and “I’m

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