Tens of thousands of people marched from the presidential palace to Mexico City's main plaza to demand the safe return of 43 missing education students and protest the regional government's role in their disappearance along with the president's inefficient response to the crime.
Organizers said 120,000 people participated in the Global Day of Action for Ayotzinapa in the city, organized by various Mexican student groups, while police counted 60,000. Protesters’ cries for justice reached every corner of Mexico and the world; news site Revolucion 3.0 described the demonstration as possibly “the largest condemnation march in history” and shared an audiovisual gallery with minute-to-minute updates of the movement.
The protests occurred a day after José Luis Abarca, former mayor of Iguala and his wife María de los Ángeles Pineda, were arrested by federal forces in Mexico City in the early hours of Tuesday, November 4, 2014. Both have been identified by the government and the media as the alleged masterminds behind the initial attack against the students, which left six dead, and the subsequent disappearance of the 43 in Ayotzinapa.
Social media users shared messages in support of the march and images from the scene:
— Ari Telch (@aritelch) November 5, 2014
With the cry of “deceitful state that kills students”
— Rosa Mondragón (@rosemondragon) November 6, 2014
It was the state, it was the government, it was all of them, no more impunity in Mexico!
Soy (SOMOS) la voz de los que hicieron callar sin razon, por el solo hecho de pensar distinto. #AccionGlobalporAyotzinapa
— DW (@danielaaweasley) November 6, 2014
I am (WE ARE) the voice of the ones silenced for no reason, because of the mere fact of thinking differently.
Not a mistake, nor an isolated case, Ayotzinapa is a state crime.
Difficult hashtag, the Global Action for Ayotzinapa: nothing less than it was the state
The Zocalo plaza filled with voices protesting, “We are not only the college, we are the whole of society”
Many Twitter users addressed Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, some criticizing his plan to embark on an international tour throughout Asia and Oceania in the critical moment:
When the president doesn't preside and diminishes himself, he leaves the country adrift
“Se va de gira Peña Nieto, con la cara llena de vergüenza, a seguir vendiendo el país”, dice el orador. “¡Justicia, justicia!”, responden. — AlejandroPáezVarela (@paezvarela) November 6, 2014
“Peña Nieto embarks on a tour, with a face full of shame, to continue selling the country”, said the speaker. “Justice, justice!” they answer.
So many others echoed the demand that has circulated online and offline for the president's resignation:
Latest news. The cries of “Peña out” are growing at the Zócalo march
— Edison B. Urbano (@ElPayanes) November 6, 2014
Latest news: MEXICO In Zócalo plaza, they sing “Peña out”
On Instagram and Twitter, users shared photos of the protests. The Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Center for Human Rights published a snapshot taken in downtown Mexico City.
November 5 wasn't the first time that the Ayotzinapa tragedy has sparked protests. Instagram user pariscervantes uploaded a collage of photos titled “A message for @EPN [Enrique Peña Nieto] from Beaux Arts” two weeks earlier.
Meanwhile, people throughout the country shared pictures of the latest protests from their locations:
— Maria Jose Lazcano (@MJLazcanoVM) November 6, 2014
Global Action for Ayotzinapa in Queretaro
Elocuentes imágenes de la protesta estudiantil en Mérida pidiendo justicia por Ayotzinapa pic.twitter.com/RrohWy3Vo9
— YUCATAN AL MINUTO (@YUCATANALMINUTO) November 6, 2014
Eloquent images of the student protest in Merida asking for justice for Ayotzinapa
Social media users also shared their reflections on Mexico's political and social realities:
— Clío (@mcliomm) November 6, 2014
Do you know who is going to defend our rights? No one. Everybody is part of the show
— 132Global (@Global132) November 5, 2014
Mexicans, when are you going to react? When the missing people come from your home?
Some remembered the thousand of lives lost in the war on drugs and crime in general, in addition to the 43 missing students:
— 132Global (@Global132) November 5, 2014
There were also voices against the march:
¿Cuándo sus marchan han servido de algo ?sólo buscan pretextos para vandalizar la ciudad. #AccionGlobalporAyotzinapa
— Nathalia Kuz (@Nathaliakuz) November 6, 2014
How many marches have been useful? They are only pretext to vandalize the city
Among all the protests were apologies and hope that this case should not be forgotten
— Marlene (@_lolalatrailera) November 6, 2014
Sorry for the inconvenience, Enrique Peña Nieto, we are moving Mexico
México vibra alrededor del mundo, que la llama nunca muera. #AccionGlobalporAyotzinapa
— Daniela Aedo Santana (@Daniaedosantana) November 6, 2014
Mexico is shaking the world, let the flame never die
#AccionGlobalporAyotzinapa Esperemos que esto no se transforme en solo una moda más, el país no nos puede perdonar mas esas cosas.
— Francisco Agares (@agarescatus) November 6, 2014
I hope this does not end in another trend, the country cannot forgive more of these things
While the parents of the 43 missing students declared during the protest:
— solociudadanos (@solociudadanos) November 6, 2014
“Whoever has him I'll give them my land in return for my son being brought back alive.” Father of student teacher
— Sopitas (@sopitas) November 6, 2014
The government will announce the deaths of our children, don't leave us alone
At 7 p.m. Mexico time the hashtags #AccionGlobalPorAyotzinapa (Global Action for Ayotzinapa), #SiRenunciaPeña (If Peña Steps Down) and #Abarca (the former mayor of Iguala and one of the main suspects) were among the top 10 trending topics on Twitter.
Follow our in-depth coverage: Bring Back Mexico's Missing #Ayotzinapa Students