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World

Confirmation Of Mexican Students' Deaths Touches Off Protests

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Something like despair enveloped Mexico over the weekend. Authorities offered grim news about the fate of 43 missing students. Three suspects confessed to killing the students according to Mexico's attorney general, and that news prompted demonstrations across much of the country. Protesters torched cars in front of the state capital building in Guerrero where the students disappeared in September. In Mexico City, demonstrators set fire to the ornate front door of the Ceremonial National Palace. NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: It was a weekend of near constant protest throughout Mexico.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting in Spanish).

KAHN: In Mexico City Sunday, marchers ended their 120-mile trek from Iguala, Guerrero, where the students were abducted, to the capital.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOSE ALACAZAR: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: Organizer Jose Alacazar told marchers that the country is facing a national emergency because of the lack of security that exists. According to authorities, the students were attacked by local police in Iguala on orders from the mayor. Six people died in the confrontation. The corrupt cops then handed over the surviving 43 students to a local drug gang. According to the confession of the three suspects now in custody, it was the leader of the gang who ordered the mass murder believing the students were members of a rival trafficking group.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting in Spanish).

KAHN: Protester Jimena Vargas Cervantes, a high school senior, says she wants to see justice for the students who were no older than she is.

JIMENA VARGAS CERVANTES: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: And our government let them down, she says. They're doing so many bad things to my generation, but she adds we are waking up and we're not going to be silenced.

Political analyst Denise Dresser says the case of the 43 students has struck a chord in the country because it highlights all that is wrong today, from the corruption in local police stations and city halls to the utter incompetence of criminal investigators.

DENISE DRESSER: And with a government that has built an international narrative of modernization and moving Mexico forward and isn't capable of carrying out the most basic functions that a government should carry out.

KAHN: Mexico's attorney general, Jesus Murillo Karam, says the investigation is far from over, and it appears neither is public outrage, much of it fueled by an off-the-cuff comment the attorney general made after fielding dozens of reporters' questions. Murillo Karam said that's enough, I'm tired. And that phrase in Spanish, ya me canse, has dominated Mexico Twitter feeds and YouTube videos.

(SOUNDBITE OF YOUTUBE VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: (Speaking Spanish).

(SOUNDBITE OF YOUTUBE VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: We are tired, too, say those posting anonymously. I'm tired of all the impunity in my country, says one. I'm tired of being afraid, says another and on and on.

(SOUNDBITE OF YOUTUBE VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #3: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.