The protests in Mexico have gone on for weeks. Unlike most demonstrations, they appear to be growing in intensity and their demands are becoming just as ambiguous.
Protest groups from all over Mexico have come together in the capital of Mexico City to demand, among other things, the resignation of President Enrique Peña Nieto. The protests began with a much simpler demand: the return of 43 missing students. The government claims that the students were victims of one of Mexico’s drug cartels, but that is not enough for the protesters.
As housewife Nora Jaime explained to the AP, this is about more than just those missing students.
“The entire country is outraged, it is not just them. There are thousands of disappeared, thousands of clandestine graves, thousands of mothers who don’t know where their children are.”
The students were mostly men in their early 20s. As CNN reports, they were going to a protest in Iguala, when local police blocked the road leading into the town. The officers then opened fire on the students’ vehicles, killing one of the men. The rest were taken away. According to Mexican Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam, they gave the surviving students to a local criminal gang known as the Guerreros Unidos. The gang was known to work closely with the corrupt local police force.
Naturally, the story has unleashed massive protests across Mexico. They have been mostly peaceful, but small groups of masked men have been carrying out violent acts. In Guerrero State, they have burned government buildings, and in clashes with the police at Mexico City’s National Palace, they’ve thrown molotov cocktails according to Reuters.
Despite the unprecedented ferocity of the Mexico protests, Al Jazeera is reporting that we shouldn’t expect to see massive change like in the Middle East after the Arab Spring.
As scholar on the Mexican justice system David Shirk explained, don’t get your hopes up.
“It’s really important to temper expectations. This is another terrible event, but Mexico has turned so many corners of this kind that it seems to be still going in the same direction.”
Al Jazeera does a good job of cataloging some of the most horrendous crimes in Mexico’s recent history, many of which led to protests, none of which led to change. This most recent atrocity has at least led to the resignation of the governor of Guerrero, after authorities dug up 38 bodies from an unmarked mass grave, none of which were the students they were looking for.
Still, the protests go on in hope for change in Mexico.
[Image Credit: Christian Frausto Bernal/Wikimedia Commons]