, MEXICO CITY, November 21- Protesters angry at the presumed massacre of 43 students clashed with police outside Mexico’s National Palace after a massive march demanding President Enrique Pena Nieto’s resignation.
The face off marred a mostly peaceful rally of tens of thousands of black-clad people in the capital, where they waved blackened Mexican flags and chanted “Urgent! Urgent for the president to resign!”
Parents of the 43 male college students, who reject claims their sons are dead and demand the government find them safe and sound, led the latest nationwide demonstration to the historic palace.
“We won’t rest until we find the boys,” Felipe de la Cruz, father of a missing student, told the crowd after the parents arrived in the capital following a week long bus protest tour of Mexico.
Some protesters burned an effigy of the president and threw powerful firecrackers at the fenced-off palace, which Pena Nieto only uses for ceremonies.
Hundreds of riot police sprayed water and fired tear gas at protesters. Some charged the officers, kicking at their shields. Other protesters shouted “No violence!” before the police swarmed and cleared the Zocalo square, where the palace lies.
Officials said 31 people were detained throughout the day. At least five people were injured, an AFP photographer said.
The crime has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006.
The case has turned into the biggest challenge of Pena Nieto’s nearly two-year-old presidency, on top of another scandal over a mansion his wife bought from a government contractor.
Prosecutors say a drug gang confessed to slaying the students and burning their bodies after receiving them from corrupt police in the southern state of Guerrero in September.
“Mexico is used to tragedy, robberies and corruption, and we need to begin to exercise our rights as citizens to get the government working,” said Lili Correa, 46, wearing black.
– President ‘doesn’t care’ –
The demonstration coincided with the anniversary of the start of the 1910 Mexican revolution, prompting the government to cancel the annual parade.
Before the march, masked protesters threw firebombs and used bazooka-like tubes to launch firecrackers at police, who hit back with tear gas to disperse them on a street near the airport.
Protesters also blocked the main road to the airport for an hour. Police vehicles picked up passengers hauling their suitcases along the road.
Thousands protested in several other cities, including Chilpancingo, the capital of Guerrero, the violence-plagued southern state where the students vanished nearly two months ago.