Mexico leader's popularity hits low, thousands protest

Mexico leader's popularity hits low, thousands protest

Tuesday, December 2, 2014 12:22 am

President Pena Nieto: popularity at lowest ebb

President Pena Nieto: popularity at lowest ebb

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto marked two years in office Monday with his lowest approval rating yet, as thousands protested again his handling of the presumed massacre of 43 students.

A poll published by El Universal newspaper showed that 41 percent of Mexicans approve of his performance while the daily Reforma found that 39 percent were satisfied.

It was the worst approval rating for a president since Ernesto Zedillo in the mid-1990s.

Thousands of people marched in Mexico City, chanting for Pena Nieto to resign and waving blackened flags of the country.

Thousands more protested in the southern state of Guerrero, where a drug gang confessed to killing 43 college students after local police handed them over in September.

A group of protesters ransacked the Guerrero state prosecutor’s office in the regional capital, Chilpancingo, and set five vehicles on fire, including two police cruisers.

“We no longer recognize Enrique Pena Nieto as president of Mexico because he has not met our central demand, which is to present our sons alive,” said Felipe de la Cruz, a spokesman for the families of the missing.

Families refuse to believe the 43 young men are dead and demand they are found alive. Federal prosecutors have stopped short of declaring them dead, saying they await DNA tests on charred remains sent to an Austrian university.

Teachers and students led another protest in the neighboring state of Oaxaca, where some 1,500 people blocked the local airport for four hours, causing two flight cancellations.

Pena Nieto, meanwhile, announced that he had sent constitutional reforms to Congress aimed at disbanding the country’s notoriously corrupt municipal police forces and allow the federal government to take over gang-infiltrated towns.

The president unveiled the plan last week, two months after the students were attacked by police in the city of Iguala, allegedly under the mayor’s orders.

“What happened in Iguala marks a before and an after,” Pena Nieto said Monday during a visit to the impoverished southern state of Chiapas.

“It showed the institutional weakness to face organized crime, which today have more numbers, weapons and power than in the past,” he said.

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