MEXICO CITY (AFP) – Mexico on Wednesday ordered the arrest of the mayor of the city of Iguala, his wife and an aide, charging they masterminded last month’s attack that left six students dead and 43 missing.
Carrying torches and candles, tens of thousands of people marched through Mexico City and other cities to protest the disappearance of the students.
“We shall overcome,” protesters shouted with clenched fists in the air. Marching were students, teachers, farmers and activists joining relatives of the missing students.
“They took them away alive. We want them back alive”, ran another slogan. The march was peaceful. Town hall gave the figure of participation at 45,000.
Protesters carried large black and white photos of the missing and called out their names, one by one, as if in a roll call in class, followed by the word “present.”
Protesters banged drums, strummed guitars and blew whistles. “I am indignant over what happened. They could have been my students, my brothers, my children,” said Jorge de la Pena, a psychology professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
Mexican authorities have searched in vain for any trace of the teachers college students who disappeared on September 26, in a case that has sparked national and international outrage, including mass demonstrations that saw the Iguala city hall torched Wednesday.
“Arrest warrants have been issued for Iguala mayor (Jose Luis Abarca),” as well as his wife and public safety chief, “as the individuals who likely organized the events that took place in Iguala,” Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam told reporters.
Abarca “gave police the order to confront” students, who were known for frequent protests, so that they would not derail a public event by his wife, the head of a local state children’s protection charity.
Authorities say corrupt officials and police worked hand-in-hand with the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel in the attack, which could prove to be one of the worst slaughters that Mexico has witnessed since the drug war intensified in 2006.
The mayor’s wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda, is a sister of at least three known drug traffickers, and the couple has ties to Guerreros Unidos, authorities said.
Searchers are still desperately combing the area for the missing students by land and air, almost a month later.