Angry Mexicans protest over 43 missing students

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Mexican Protests Turn Violent Over Missing Students

MEXICO CITY (AP) - A largely peaceful march by tens of thousands demanding the return of 43 missing students ended in violence, as a small group of masked protesters battled police in Mexico City's main square.

The march late Thursday sought the return of the students from a rural teachers' college. Nov. 20 is usually a day reserved for the celebration of Mexico's 1910-17 Revolution, but Mexicans were in no mood for celebrations.

Many of the marchers carried "mourning" flags with Mexico's red and green national colors substituted by black stripes.

"The entire country is outraged," said housewife Nora Jaime. "It is not just them," she added, referring to the 43 young men who haven't been seen since being attacked by police in a southern city Sept. 26. "There are thousands of disappeared, thousands of clandestine graves, thousands of mothers who don't know where their children are."

The march in Mexico City was mostly peaceful, in contrast to recent protests that have ended with the burning of government buildings in Guerrero state, where the students disappeared. Whenever masked protesters tried to join Thursday's march, demonstrators shouted them down with chants of "No violence!" and "Off with the masks!"

The protesters converged on the city's main square, where families of the missing students stood on a platform in front of the National Palace holding posters of their relatives' faces. Amid chants for President Enrique Pena Nieto to step down, family members repeated that they do not believe the government's account that the youths were killed by a drug gang.

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Mexicans protest over 43 missing students
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Angry Mexicans protest over 43 missing students
Felipe de la Cruz, the father of one of the 43 missing students from the Isidro Burgos rural teachers college, speaks to a crowd as others relatives hold posters of their missing loved ones, during a gathering in front of the Palacio de Bellas Artes to mark the nine-month anniversary of the missing 43, in Mexico City, Friday, June 26, 2015. The missing students have not been seen since Sept. 26 when prosecutors allege they were stopped by police in the city of Iguala and turned over to a drug gang, which killed them and incinerated their remains. The students attended a radical rural teachers college in Guerrero state and went to Iguala to hijack buses. The Mexican government has said it is committed to bringing those responsible to justice. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
A child stands before a memorial made up of empty chairs bearing images of the 43 missing students, to mark the nine-month anniversary of their disappearance, in Mexico City, Saturday, June 27, 2015. The missing students have not been seen since Sept. 26 when prosecutors allege they were stopped by police in the city of Iguala and turned over to a drug gang, which killed them and incinerated their remains. The students attended a radical rural teachers college in Guerrero state and went to Iguala to hijack buses. The Mexican government has said it is committed to bringing those responsible to justice. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
People take part in a peaceful march to mark the nine-month anniversary of the disappearance of 43 missing college students, in front of the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, Friday, June 26, 2015. The missing students have not been seen since Sept. 26 when prosecutors allege they were stopped by police in the city of Iguala and turned over to a drug gang, which killed them and incinerated their remains. The students attended a radical rural teachers college in Guerrero state and went to Iguala to hijack buses. The Mexican government has said it is committed to bringing those responsible to justice. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
A picture of Iguala's former Mayor Jose Luis Abarca is taken on a screen during a press conference of Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam at the Attorney General building in Mexico City on November 4, 2014. Mexican police detained Tuesday the fugitive ex-Mayor and his wife accused of ordering a police attack that left six people dead and 43 college students missing since last September. AFP PHOTO/ Yuri CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam (R) speaks alongside Criminal Division director Tomas Zeron during a press conference at the Attorney General building in Mexico City on November 4, 2014. Mexican police detained Tuesday the fugitive ex-Mayor Jose Luis Abarca and his wife accused of ordering a police attack that left six people dead and 43 college students missing since last September. AFP PHOTO/ Yuri CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate against the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City, on November 20, 2014. Tens of thousands of people angry at the presumed massacre of 43 students marched in Mexico City on Thursday, many chanting for President Enrique Pena Nieto's resignation in another day of nationwide protests. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - NOVEMBER 06: A sign with the face of one of the missing students in Ayotzinapa is seen while students block access to the Mexican Attorney General's office during a demonstration to ask for justice for the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa in Mexican state of Guerrero, on November 06, 2014 in Mexico City, Mexico. Former Mayor of Iguala Jose Luis Abarca and his wife Maria de los Angeles Pineda were captured on Tuesday by Federal forces in Mexico City. They are both suspected as masterminds of the disappearance of the students. (Photo by Miguel Tovar/LatinContent/Getty Images)
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - NOVEMBER 06: Students block access to the Mexican Attorney General's office during a demonstration to ask for justice for the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa in Mexican state of Guerrero, on November 06, 2014 in Mexico City, Mexico. Former Mayor of Iguala Jose Luis Abarca and his wife Maria de los Angeles Pineda were captured on Tuesday by Federal forces in Mexico City. They are both suspected as masterminds of the disappearance of the students. (Photo by Miguel Tovar/LatinContent/Getty Images)
People demonstrate against the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City, on November 20, 2014. Tens of thousands of people angry at the presumed massacre of 43 students marched in Mexico City on Thursday, many chanting for President Enrique Pena Nieto's resignation in another day of nationwide protests. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate against the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City, on November 20, 2014. Tens of thousands of people angry at the presumed massacre of 43 students marched in Mexico City on Thursday, many chanting for President Enrique Pena Nieto's resignation in another day of nationwide protests. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate against the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City, on November 20, 2014. Tens of thousands of people angry at the presumed massacre of 43 students marched in Mexico City on Thursday, many chanting for President Enrique Pena Nieto's resignation in another day of nationwide protests. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate against the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City, on November 20, 2014. Tens of thousands of people angry at the presumed massacre of 43 students marched in Mexico City on Thursday, many chanting for President Enrique Pena Nieto's resignation in another day of nationwide protests. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate against the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City, on November 20, 2014. Tens of thousands of people angry at the presumed massacre of 43 students marched in Mexico City on Thursday, many chanting for President Enrique Pena Nieto's resignation in another day of nationwide protests. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate against the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City, on November 20, 2014. Tens of thousands of people angry at the presumed massacre of 43 students marched in Mexico City on Thursday, many chanting for President Enrique Pena Nieto's resignation in another day of nationwide protests. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate against the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City, on November 20, 2014. Tens of thousands of people angry at the presumed massacre of 43 students marched in Mexico City on Thursday, many chanting for President Enrique Pena Nieto's resignation in another day of nationwide protests. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate against the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City, on November 20, 2014. Tens of thousands of people angry at the presumed massacre of 43 students marched in Mexico City on Thursday, many chanting for President Enrique Pena Nieto's resignation in another day of nationwide protests. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate against the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City, on November 20, 2014. Tens of thousands of people angry at the presumed massacre of 43 students marched in Mexico City on Thursday, many chanting for President Enrique Pena Nieto's resignation in another day of nationwide protests. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate against the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City, on November 20, 2014. Tens of thousands of people angry at the presumed massacre of 43 students marched in Mexico City on Thursday, many chanting for President Enrique Pena Nieto's resignation in another day of nationwide protests. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
An injured man is carried during a march protesting over the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City on November 20, 2014. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/Yuri Cortez (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate against the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City, on November 20, 2014. Tens of thousands of people angry at the presumed massacre of 43 students marched in Mexico City on Thursday, many chanting for President Enrique Pena Nieto's resignation in another day of nationwide protests. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate against the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City, on November 20, 2014. Tens of thousands of people angry at the presumed massacre of 43 students marched in Mexico City on Thursday, many chanting for President Enrique Pena Nieto's resignation in another day of nationwide protests. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People take part in a march protesting over the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City on November 20, 2014. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/AFP PHOTO/Yuri Cortez (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People watch from a window a march protesting over the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City on November 20, 2014. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/Yuri Cortez (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers escort a march protesting over the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City on November 20, 2014. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/Yuri Cortez (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers escort a march over the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City on November 20, 2014. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/Yuri Cortez (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People take part in a march protesting over the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City on November 20, 2014. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/Yuri Cortez (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People take part in a march protesting over the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City on November 20, 2014. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/Yuri Cortez (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People take part in a march protesting over the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City on November 20, 2014. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/Yuri Cortez (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People take part in a march protesting over the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City on November 20, 2014. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/Yuri Cortez (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Mexicans angry over case of 43 missing students join in mass protest in capital http://t.co/xL2lbpJNJG http://t.co/JAh0pxgM3K
People take part in a march protesting over the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City on November 20, 2014. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/Yuri Cortez (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Tens Of Thousands March For 43 Missing Mexican College Students http://t.co/JlfwnAO4L7 https://t.co/4IRCGpAyIl
Angry Mexicans protest over 43 missing students http://t.co/AguPV9Gypj via @AP http://t.co/GYUsX2JGxk
🆕📷💥 Mass protests all over Mexico for the 43 missing students on the anniv. of the Mexican Revolution #Ayotzinapa http://t.co/YOOCRpnW3v
Couple hundred demonstrating in Redwood City over the 43 missing Mexican students. #Ayotzinapa http://t.co/rTwVk5TSZn
In Mexico City demonstrators burn an effigy of presidnt @EPN, protesting for the 43 missing students from #Ayotzinapa http://t.co/Iox9xan4dC
Protesters block roads demanding justice for 43 missing students in Mexico http://t.co/PWlMfifPIF http://t.co/75NraD0z0j
Thousands marched again in Mexico demanding the appearance of the 43 missing students. #AcciónGlobalporAyotzinapa http://t.co/Yxty0LJY9U
IGUALA, MEXICO - JANUARY 12: Protestors demanding justice and clarification of the disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa stage clash with police in front of the 27th infantry battalion headquarters in Iguala, Mexico on January 12, 2015. Trucks are damaged and set on fire during protest. (Photo by Eric Chavelas Hernandez/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
IGUALA, MEXICO - JANUARY 12: Protestors demanding justice and clarification of the disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa stage clash with police in front of the 27th infantry battalion headquarters in Iguala, Mexico on January 12, 2015. Trucks are damaged and set on fire during protest. (Photo by Eric Chavelas Hernandez/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A truck in flames burned by angry people during a protest demanding justice and clarification of the disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa, on January 12, 2015, at the 35th Military Zone, in Chilpancingo, Guerrero State, Mexico. Students and relatives of 43 missing aspiring teachers stormed a Mexican military base on Monday in the city where they vanished, prompting soldiers to repel them with tear gas. The protesters traveled to Iguala, in the southern state of Guerrero, to demand to search the barracks because they believe the missing young men may have been hidden there. AFP PHOTO/ JESUS GUERRERO (Photo credit should read JESUS GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - NOVEMBER 05: A man shows a student's picture during a demonstration to ask for justice for the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa in Mexican state of Guerrero on November 05, 2014 in Mexico City, Mexico. Ex mayor of Iguala Jose Luis Abarca and his wife Maria de los Angeles Pineda were captured yesterday by Federal forces in Mexico city, both Abarca and Pineda are suspected as masterminds in the disappearance of the students. (Photo by Miguel Tovar/LatinContent/Getty Images)
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - NOVEMBER 05: People march on Reforma Avenue during a demonstration to ask for justice for the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa in Mexican state of Guerrero on November 05, 2014 in Mexico City, Mexico. Ex mayor of Iguala Jose Luis Abarca and his wife Maria de los Angeles Pineda were captured yesterday by Federal forces in Mexico city, both Abarca and Pineda are suspected as masterminds in the disappearance of the students. (Photo by Miguel Tovar/LatinContent/Getty Images)
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - NOVEMBER 06: Signs with the faces of the missing students of Ayotzinapa is seen while students block access to the Mexican Attorney General's office during a demonstration to ask for justice for the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa in Mexican state of Guerrero, on November 06, 2014 in Mexico City, Mexico. Former Mayor of Iguala Jose Luis Abarca and his wife Maria de los Angeles Pineda were captured on Tuesday by Federal forces in Mexico City. They are both suspected as masterminds of the disappearance of the students. (Photo by Miguel Tovar/LatinContent/Getty Images)
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"We're not tired," said one man speaking from the platform. "On the contrary, we are mad with this Mexican government and its entire structure, because it has not done anything but deceive the families."

After most of the protesters left the square, a small group of masked youths began battling police with rocks and sticks. Police responded with fire extinguishers to put out fires set by the youths and to force them off of the square.

Police charged across the square to drive the protesters out. At least two news photographers, including one from The Associated Press, were injured by police, who took two cameras and some lenses from the A.P. photographer.

Earlier in the day, about 200 youthful protesters, some with their faces covered by masks or bandannas, clashed with police as they tried to block a main expressway to the international airport. Protesters hurled rocks, fireworks and gasoline bombs at the police, at least one of whom was hit by the projectiles. Some passengers had to walk to the terminal, but flights were not interrupted and expressways were reopened.

Many average people, outraged by the disappearances of the students, turned out for the march despite cool weather and some light rain.

Maria Antonieta Lugo was part of a group of housewives who joined the march "because we have children of the same age" as the missing students, who ranged from their teens to their 20s. "This could happen to our children as well," she said.

Maria Teresa Perez held up a poster with a picture of her son, Jesus Horta Perez, 45, who was kidnapped by armed men from a storefront in a Mexico City suburb in 2009 and has never been heard from again.

"They are shouting about 43, but they should be counting in the thousands, because apart from these 43, there are 33,000 disappeared," Perez said.

Mexico officially lists 22,322 people as having gone missing since the start of the country's drug war in 2006. And the search for the missing students has turned up other, unrelated mass graves.

The 43 students, who attended a radical rural teachers college known as Ayotzinapa, disappeared after they went to the Guerrero city of Iguala to hijack buses. Iguala police intercepted them on the mayor's orders and turned them over to the criminal group Guerreros Unidos, a gang with ties to the mayor, prosecutors have said. Prosecutors say there is evidence the gang members killed the students and incinerated their remains.

It is that link between a local government and drug gang that disgusts many Mexicans.

"I think the reason people are here today is not just Ayotzinapa," said one protester, Alejandro Gonzalez, who studied industrial design in Pachuca. "I think that today, more than ever ... people are realizing the political structures are rotten, useless."

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