Mexico: Protesters knock down door of presidential palace over disappearance of 43 students | WATCH

Mexico, presidential palace, students' disappearance
Image Source : REUTERS Protesters knock down the door of Mexico’s presidential palace.

Mexico City: A group of people protesting the disappearance of 43 students in Mexico in 2014 on Wednesday knocked down a door to the National Palace, where the president lives and holds his daily press briefings, using a white pickup truck, videos from local television stations showed. The protesters rammed down the door while President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was giving his daily morning press conference inside.

After the door was battered down, protesters entered the palace, forcing police at the scene to use tear gas to disperse the group and law enforcement to erect barriers within the palace to keep the protesters from penetrating the building. The chaotic situation was restored to calm by mid-morning with the door secured and no protesters inside the building.

Over 100 protesters remained camped outside the palace and some involved in the smashing of the door to the presidential palace had been arrested, according to local media reports. Apart from the broken door, a  view of graffiti and a sticker reading “We are missing 43” were seen at the site of the incident.

The door will be fixed: Lopez Obrador

Asked about the incident during the press conference, Lopez Obrador said he was not going to repress the protest and that the government would continue to investigate the case of the missing students, who disappeared in one of the country’s most notorious violent incidents. “The door will be fixed and there will be no problem,” he said.

However, the Mexican President called the protest a provocation and claimed the demonstrators had sledgehammers and blowtorches. Obrador stressed the protesters were being manipulated by rights groups that were against his government and did not want the truth about the case to come out.

He continued to attack the lawyers of the missing students’ parents, saying they prohibited them from speaking with him, but offering no evidence to back his claim. He emphasized the government was continuing to look for the students and said he would speak with the parents “in time.”

What happened in 2014?

In 2014, a group of 43 students was attacked by municipal police in the southern city of Iguala, Guerrero, who handed them over to a local drug gang that apparently killed them and burned their bodies. Some of that group died at the scene or escaped. Since the September 26 attack, only three of their remains have been identified.

The youths were part of a larger group of students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College. In its initial findings, the previous government concluded the 43 had been kidnapped by corrupt police in cahoots with a local drug gang who believed the students had been infiltrated by members of a rival outfit. An interdisciplinary group of experts and the government said the account was riddled with errors and officials hid the information, using torture to obtain false testimonies.

As Obrador’s term is ending next year, parents have spent close to a decade without knowing what happened to their sons. After an initial coverup, last year a government truth commission concluded that local, state and federal authorities colluded with the gang to murder the students in what it called a “state crime.”

For years, the victims’ families and students at government rural teachers’ colleges have protested the 2014 disappearances. The mass disappearance remains one of Mexico’s most infamous human rights cases. The underfunded radical rural teachers’ colleges in Mexico have a decades-long tradition of violent protests. The students who disappeared in 2014 had themselves been hijacking passenger buses which they were going to use to travel to another protest.

(with inputs from agencies)

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