MEXICO CITY - Thousands of people protested in Mexico City on Thursday, demanding that President Enrique Pena Nieto "resign now" over his handling of drug violence, corruption and his meeting with Donald Trump.
Demonstrators held a sign reading "Pena Nieto INEPT, RESIGN for the good of Mexico!" and waved blackened flags of Mexico on the eve of the country's Independence Day.
They marched across the capital toward the Zocalo square, where the president traditionally stands on a balcony of the National Palace the night before the holiday to replicate the "Grito" or shout of independence made in 1810.
Riot police stood near the Zocalo to block access to protesters, who marched under the rallying cry "resign now." Parents of 43 students missing since September 2014 joined the protest, with people angry at the government's failure to solve the case, almost two years after they were abducted by police and allegedly killed by a drug cartel.
Some shouted "Pena out!" while one sign read: "We're missing 43. State crime!" "We don't have a reason to shout 'viva Mexico.' ... There are thousands of injustices," said Cristina Bautista, mother of one of the missing trainee teachers.
Ismael Padilla, a 49-year-old assistant principal at a secondary school who wore a black charro suit, said that was unhappy at Pena Nieto's decision to invite Trump last month, despite the White House hopeful's demands for Mexico to pay for a border wall and description of migrants as "rapists." "We were apparently independent," Padilla said.
"After the visit of this person who has discriminated against our brothers ... we are outraged and ashamed that he came he like a head of state, because that was the treatment he was given," he said. "We have very little to celebrate." Nubia Medina, 64, held a sign stating that "all the inept and corrupt must go." "We are tired that this government has always done things badly," she said.
"It has neglected social issues. They live like princes while the people lives on minimum wage. There are many who have disappeared or died." Pena Nieto, who took office in December 2012, has seen his approval rating sink to 23 per cent in a recent survey by Reforma newspaper.