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'We Want Them Back Alive': Tens of Thousands March Through Mexico City Demanding Justice

Seven weeks after disappearance of Ayotzinapa students, largest demonstration yet from poor farmers, workers, students, and teachers reveals growing national outrage

Demonstrators march on Reforma Avenue in Mexico City. (Photo: Tomas Bravo/Reuters)

Demonstrators march on Reforma Avenue in Mexico City. (Photo: Tomas Bravo/Reuters)

Tens of thousands poured into the streets of Mexico City Thursday in the largest expression of public outrage since 43 students from the town of Ayotzinapa in Guerrero state were disappeared, and likely massacred, seven weeks ago.

Part of a national day of action to protest the state's response to—and the Iguala mayor's alleged role in—the killings, the protest escalates the already acute political crisis seizing the Mexican government, which was heightened by recent revelations that the first lady, in the midst of the turmoil, is building a lavish mansion.

People shout demanding the return of the 43 missing students during a massive march in Mexico City. (Photo: Dario Lopez-Mills/AP)

The protesters spanned generations and included teachers, students, workers, poor farmers, and the unemployed. Many held candles and pictures of the disappeared as cries of, "It was the state" and "Get out Peña" swept through the demonstration. At numerous points, marchers counted in unison to 43, followed by a shout of "Justicia!" Demonstrators demanded, “They took them alive, we want them back alive”—a reference to the country's Dirty Wars of the 1960s and 70s in which leftists were hunted down and disappeared by the government.

The protest marked the 104 year anniversary of the launch of the Mexican revolution and was timed to coincide with a nation-wide strike.

"Mexicans are ready to explode," said Homero Aridjis, an activist, poet, and participant in the march. "Corruption has touched bottom, people are poor, suffering violence. They are fed up and desperate."

Reports and commentary on the protests are being posted to Twitter:

People demonstrate in Mexico City on Nov. 20 against the presumed massacre of 43 students in Guerrero state. (Photo: Yuri Cortez / AFP/Getty Images)

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