With one week until the Mexican presidential elections, thousands of people turned out for the third large march against Enrique Peña Nieto, candidate for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Protesters carrying signs, beating drums, and chanting “Fuera Peña” marched from Mexico City’s Zocalo down Reforma Avenue to the Angel of Independence June 24. The demonstration was organized by the student movement “Yo Soy 132” and other pro-democracy and human rights organizations.
“We are here because we want to stop the candidate from the PRI party. We just don’t want him to get to the presidency. He did nothing for the state he was governing a few years ago, he left the state in debt,” said Rafael, a protester from the State of Mexico, where Peña Nieto was governor from 2005 to 2011.
“And I don’t know if you heard about Atenco, but that is one of the main reasons we don’t want him to get to the presidency.” Hundreds of protesters carried signs referring to the violent confrontations between citizens and federal police in 2006 in the city of San Salvador Atenco in the State of Mexico, where two young people were killed. The contingents of students and youth chanted, “Por qué, por qué, por qué nos asesinan, si somos la esperanza de América Latina!” (Why, why, why do they murder us if, we are the hope of Latin America!)
Marcia Pacheco, painted purple and carrying a purple banner, marched with dozens of students with The Feminist Anti-Peña Nieto Student Faction. She said they were marching “in memory of the 922 women who were raped, tortured and murdered during the government of Peña Nieto.” She said the faction is protesting the “impunity and indifference” that allows violence against women to increase in the State of Mexico and in Mexico in general. “Our repugnance against Pena Nieto is because of the systematic abuse of human rights. That’s why we are here.”
Most polls still show Peña Nieto with at least a 10-point lead over Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Other polls show that people have little faith in the polls and accusations of bias have been common.
Some protesters said they were not there to support any political party, but to support democracy and human rights.
“It seems unthinkable that first this guy with a track record of human rights violations is a candidate…he is the worst of the PRI. The other parties aren’t the solution to Mexico’s problems either, but we can at least put a barrier against this guy if we want to change the conditions from the bottom up,” said Carmen from Guadalajara. “I am very happy to see so many organized people, so many people in the streets–this is true democracy.”
By law, all campaigning and publicity must end on Thursday. The student group plans a candlelight pro-democracy vigil for Saturday night, the night before Election Day July 1.