, MEXICO CITY, October 9 – Tens of thousands of people held protests in Mexico, joining tearful families of 43 missing students demanding their return amid fears a police backed gang executed them.
Crowds on Wednesday gathered from Mexico City to the violence-wracked state of Guerrero, where the students disappeared, and as far south as Chiapas.
Parents of the victims traveled from Guerrero to head a march of thousands of people in Mexico City, tearfully holding up pictures of their sons, and signs reading “we want them back alive.”
People watched from the sidewalk in tears, holding their fists up and chanting “you are not alone!”
The young men disappeared on September 26 after municipal police officers working with a gang shot at buses seized by the aspiring teachers in the Guerrero city of Iguala and took several of them away in patrol cars.
A mass grave containing 28 unidentified bodies was discovered on the outskirts of Iguala last weekend, in the same location where two hitmen from the Guerreros Unidos gang confessed to executing 17 students.
But authorities said it will take at least two weeks to confirm the identities of the bodies.
“We are sad but we will fight until the end,” said a 19 year old from the missing students’ teacher training school who declined to give his name for fear of reprisals.
“We demand that the president doesn’t just talk and send more forces to Guerrero,” he said, with his face covered with a scarf as he protested in Mexico City.
In Guerrero state, more than 20,000 marched and blocked the highway between the regional capital Chilpancingo and the resort of Acapulco.
“This march is to demand that the federal and state governments show our sons alive,” said Manuel Martinez, the spokesman for the families of the missing students, who were as young as 17 or in their early 20s
Thousands more protested in the southern state of Chiapas, with masked members of the Zapatista rebel movement taking part, without weapons but signs reading “We share your rage.”