Crowds in Mexico protest against leading presidential candidate
MEXICO CITY -- Tens of thousands of protesters streamed through Mexico's capital and rallied at the Angel of Independence monument Sunday in another large demonstration against the country's mainstream media and the former ruling political party.
The Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, whose rule over Mexico for much of the 20th century was marked by corruption and authoritarianism, is poised to return to power in the July 1 presidential election.
"All the people have just had it up to here that the government manipulates us," said Misael Nava, 28, a native of the state of former Gov. Enrique Peña Nieto of PRI, the leading candidate.
Nava stood among crowds that rallied for up to eight hours against Peña Nieto.
The student-led # YoSoy132 movement, or I Am 132, organized concurrent protests in at least 17 other cities in Mexico as the four presidential candidates prepared to meet for their last official debate Sunday night in Guadalajara. In the race, Peña Nieto is leading by double digits.
Protesters claim the PRI is favored by the media duopoly of Televisa and TV Azteca, which they suspect organized a propaganda campaign against the leftist candidate in the 2006 election, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
The former Mexico City mayor is running again and moving into second place behind Peña Nieto after demonstrations against the possible return of the PRI began one month ago.
Sunday's demonstrations spread to other sites in the city, including the Televisa studios near downtown. Students in the I Am 132 movement, roused by a contentious appearance by Peña Nieto at a private university, said they were also marking the anniversary of a 1971 student massacre blamed on the then-ruling PRI government.
"I have a son of 11 and a daughter of 9, and I'm here to show them to not be indifferent to what happens in their country," said Regina Soto, who held up home-made signs with her two children.
"They don't want the PRI to win. We want clean elections where we decide who gets to govern us," she said.
Most demonstrators stood by an early pledge in the movement to remain nonpartisan, but the demonstrations have led to slight gains for Lopez Obrador in some polls. The other main candidate, Josefina Vazquez Mota, has dipped to third.
Protesters said they would work to keep the movement past the July 1 election, regardless of who wins.
-- Daniel Hernandez
Photo: A view of the Paseo de Reforma avenue in central Mexico CIty during Sunday's large demonstration against the former ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party and the major news media in Mexico. Credit: Daniel Hernandez / Los Angeles Times