Hundreds of thousands of Mexicans protest killings

Hundreds of thousands of frustrated Mexicans, many carrying pictures of kidnapped loved ones, marched across the country Saturday to demand government action against a relentless tide of killings, abductions and shootouts, the AP reported.

The mass candlelight protests were a challenge to the government of President Felipe Calderon, who has made fighting crime a priority and deployed more than 25,000 soldiers and federal police to wrest territory from powerful drug cartels.

Cries of "enough" and "long live Mexico" rose up from sea of white-clad demonstrators filling Mexico City's enormous Zocalo square. The protesters held candles twinkling in the darkness as they sang the national anthem before dispersing.

"I've had enough. Kidnapping, corrupt police, a rotten judicial system," said Ricardo Robledo, a 43-year-old music producer who said he had been robbed numerous times. "This may begin a change."

City officials refused to give a crowd estimate, but the Zocalo can hold nearly 100,000 people. Tens of thousands overflowed into the surrounding streets, unable to squeeze into the square. Thousands more protested in cities across the country.

In the capital, Romana Quintera, 72, wore T-shirt with a photograph of her baby grandson, who was kidnapped for ransom five years ago when gunmen burst into her home and killed her niece. Two people imprisoned for the attack have refused to reveal the boy's fate, and Quintera said investigators have given up on the case.

"We're desperate," she said, holding back tears. "We ask authorities with all our heart to be more sensitive. Maybe nothing like this has happened to them, or they would be more sensitive."

Despite the arrest of several drug kingpins, little has improved the ground since the Calderon government began its crackdown.

Homicides have surged as drug cartels battle each other for control of trafficking routes and stage vicious attacks against police nearly each day. In the gang-plagued border state of Chihuahua alone, there have been more than 800 killings this year, double the number during the same period last year.

This week, a dozen headless bodies were found in the Yucatan Peninsula, home to Mexico's most popular beach resort, Cancun.

While impoverished Mexicans stage almost daily strikes and protests, Saturday's marches brought out thousands of middle-class citizens who are often the targets of kidnappings. The protest was inspired by the abduction and murder of the 14-year-old son of a wealthy businessman - a case that provoked an outcry when prosecutors said a police detective was a key participant in the abduction for ransom.

The boy's father, Alejandro Marti, called on top government officials to quit if they could not stem the crime wave. His challenge became a rally cry at the march, where many held up signs with his words: "If you can't, resign."

The first to arrive for the Mexico City protest was the family of 24-year-old Monica Alejandrina Ramirez, who was kidnapped on in 2004 and has not been heard from since.

Hours before the march began, the family stood silently beneath the independence monument, holding up large banners with her picture. Some colleagues of her mother, a circus performer, walked on stilts and wore clown wigs to help draw attention.

"The most frustrating thing has been the indolence of many of the authorities, their insensitivity," said her father, Manuel Ramirez Juarez, a family doctor. "I have often asked myself, why? Why me? Why my daughter?"

Having staked his presidency on improving security, Calderon responded to the rising anger by summoning governors and mayors to a national security meeting, drawing up a a 74-point anti-crime plan.

It included plans for better police recruiting and oversight systems, as well as an anti-kidnapping strategy within six months. The Defense Department promised to equip police with more powerful automatic weapons.

Calderon has urged patience, warning that rooting out drug gangs and bringing security to the streets would not happen by decree.

Neither will cleaning up and bolstering Mexico's police.

In some northern towns, officers complain of having to share guns, and many have quit in terror after seeing colleagues killed in front of their homes.

More than half of Mexico's state and municipal police officers have only a primary education, making it difficult for them to aspire to the highest ranks and salaries. Many are tempted to join the payrolls of criminal gangs.

"When you go out, you go with fear - are you going to make it home or not?" said Almicar Polanco, 42, marching with about 2,000 others in the border city of Tijuana, across from San Diego. He clutched a flier with a faded picture of his father-in-law, kidnapped two years earlier and missing ever since.

Subscribe to Trend in Google News! Subscribe
Israel signs $3.4 bln submarines deal with Germany's Thyssenkrupp
Israel signs $3.4 bln submarines deal with Germany's Thyssenkrupp
Israel sticks with 4th vaccine shot, sees Omicron wave waning in a week
Israel sticks with 4th vaccine shot, sees Omicron wave waning in a week
Israel reduces COVID-19 quarantine to keep economy going
Israel reduces COVID-19 quarantine to keep economy going
Loading Bars
Latest
Kazakh Gas Processing Plant opens tender to buy electric engines
Companies from UAE, Netherlands to build solar photovoltaic stations in Uzbekistan
Israel signs $3.4 bln submarines deal with Germany's Thyssenkrupp
Azerbaijan eyes holding clinical trials of Turkovac COVID-19 vaccine soon
Turkmen state concern to purchase material and technical resources via tender
Georgia names main goods in domestic exports in 2021
Azerbaijani minister talks potential omicron infection rate among local COVID-19 patients
Azerbaijani people honor memory of victims of January 20 tragedy (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Iranian banks issue big loans in services sector
UN Resident Coordinator in Azerbaijan expresses condolences in connection with January 20 tragedy
Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Azerbaijan honors memory of victims of January 20 tragedy (PHOTO)
Uzbek association signs agreement with Russian enterprises to develop textile industry
Inflation accelerating worldwide: How Azerbaijan responds?
Azerbaijan honors memory of martyrs of January 20 tragedy by minute of silence (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Turkish embassy in Azerbaijan shares publication on 32nd anniversary of January 20 tragedy
Turkmenistan's TML eyes co-op with Ukraine's Smart Maritime Group
Uzbekistan to strengthen cooperation with Saudi company in energy field
Leadership of Azerbaijani MoD visits Alley of Martyrs (PHOTO)
Georgia’s revenues from tourism to surge in 2022 – Galt & Taggart
Iran provides several loans in trade sector
January 20 events strengthened resolve of Azerbaijani people for independence - aide to president
Embassy of Kazakhstan in Azerbaijan issues statement on 32nd anniversary of January 20 tragedy
Georgia publishes COVID-19 data for January 20
This irresponsible behavior of French FM also undermines bilateral international obligations of France - Azerbaijani MP
Uzbek Thermal Power Plants JSC to implement major investment projects
Kazakhstan increases production and import of kerosene for 10M2021
Iran reaches significant agreements with Russia in energy sector – minister
Valiant Azerbaijani people stood up for independence on January 20, 1990 - Turkish president's adviser
Loan portfolio of Azerbaijani non-bank credit organization more than doubles
Azerbaijan Transport Agency talks number of passengers on bus trips to liberated areas
Armenia must properly assess new geopolitical realities in region – Aide to Azerbaijani President
Russian Economy Ministry talks about implementation of joint transport projects with Azerbaijan
Georgia to attract new investments in energy sector – minister
Kazakh Samruk-Kazyna, Russian companies to invest in chemical projects
CNPC branch in Turkmenistan opens tender for repair of compressors
Uzbekistan shares domestic COVID-19 data for January 19
Iran's Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on January 22
Iran establishes container shipping route from Chabahar port to Indian ports
President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva visit Alley of Martyrs on 32nd anniversary of 20 January tragedy (PHOTO/VIDEO)
President Raisi's visit to Russia - fundamental change in Iran's international relations - Iran's VP
Azerbaijani oil prices increase
Iran sees increase in exports to Oman
Oil prices hover around 2014 highs, supported by supply concerns
Higher oil revenues to boost Turkmenistan's GDP growth - Fitch
Iranian currency rates for January 20
Azerbaijan's FM meets with head of IAEA in Vienna (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan expects another wave of COVID-19 pandemic - Health Committee of Parliament (VIDEO)
Azerbaijan's Mediation Council, MUSIAD sign cooperation protocol (PHOTO)
ITFC extends $15M line of financing facility to Uzbek Industrial and Construction Bank
ITFC extends US$ 15 Million Line of Trade Financing Facility to Invest Finance Bank
Switzerland recognises Georgian Covid-19 certificates
Economy min: Facilitating banking transactions part of Iran-Russia agreements
Turkey expects coronavirus cases to peak in February
Number of COVID-19 cases in Kazakhstan tops 1,100,000
Chinese bridge at Pangong Tso nears completion, show satellite images
Beijing city raises vigilance as local COVID cases tick higher before Olympics
Over 300 mln COVID-19 cases confirmed all over world, WHO says
U.S., UK launch talks to resolve steel, aluminum dispute
India should adopt risk-based approach not blanket bans to contain Covid - WHO India head
Turkey, UAE sign FX swap deal worth $5 billion
Covid-hit microfinance industry in India seeks higher credit guarantee scheme
Excellent Iran-Russia ties serving strategic goals - Iranian president
Turkey soon to leave currency volatility behind: Erdogan
Cryptocurrency Bill in India unlikely to be introduced in upcoming Budget session
Head of EU delegation expresses condolences to Azerbaijan on occasion of January 20 tragedy
First Vice-President Mehriban Aliyeva makes post on 32nd anniversary of 20 January tragedy (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan commemorates 32nd anniversary of 1990 'Black January' tragedy
Organization of Turkic States makes post in connection with January 20 tragedy
UK shares experience in mine action with Azerbaijan - Ambassador
Azerbaijan adheres to start of delimitation of border with Armenia process without any conditions - minister
PM Johnson drops COVID rules in England
President Ilham Aliyev makes Facebook post on 32nd anniversary of 20 January tragedy (PHOTO)
Afghanistan opens gates of Kamal Khan Dam allowing water into drought-hit Iran
Azerbaijan hosts auction for commissioning mineral deposits
Russia allows tomato imports from several Turkmen enterprises
Azerbaijan to showcase its non-oil products at int’l exhibitions
Price indexes of financial, construction sectors at Uzbek stock exchange fall
Uzbekneftegaz creates new unit to handle partnerships with world's largest financial institutions
Money transfers from Georgia to Azerbaijan increase
Kazakhstan’s December compliance to OPEC+ deal unveiled
Chinese company discloses volume of cargo containers sent to Uzbekistan in 2021
Georgia's Imereti Agrozone receives investment proposals
No apparent crude export impact from civil unrest in Kazakhstan - EIA
Baku refinery increases oil output
Uz-Kor Gas Chemical company opens tender for supply of protective equipment
Gas consumption grows in Azerbaijan
Activities of military units stationed in Azerbaijan's liberated territories inspected (PHOTO)
Azerbaijani FM rejects unfounded allegations of Armenian representative at OSCE forum (PHOTO)
SOCAR boosts oil and gas exports
Iranian Ministry of Roads, Urban Development reveals data on activities of ports
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin rising in price
Azerbaijan significantly increases gas production
Kazakhstan discloses cargo traffic via Aktau port for 2021
U.S. mortgage interest rates climb for 4th straight week
Azerbaijan provides lump-sum allowance to families of January 20 tragedy martyrs, victims
Azerbaijan announces increase in freight traffic by all modes of transport
MP: Pecresse's illegal Karabakh trip gives rise to legal responsibility
Azerbaijan announces priorities as chair of OSCE Forum for Security Co-operation
Georgia’s domestic electricity production up in 2021
SOCAR increases oil production y-o-y
All news