Mexican President Peña Nieto has said that while he will try to establish a dialogue with protesters demanding justice over the 43 missing students but warned that the state will use force “when all other mechanisms to restore order have been exhausted.”
Peña Nieto’s remarks, during a Saturday night press conference, came hours after police in the capital shot and injured two students at a planning meeting for solidarity events for the 43. Later 500 heavily-armed police forcefully entered the campus of the university, provoking clashes with students.
While Peña Nieto acknowledged the pain and concern of the Mexican population for the atrocities carried out in Ayotzinapa, he condemned the violent acts of some protesters during recent weeks, threatening government intervention.
“I hope it is not the case that the government is pushed to use state force," the President said at the press conference, which came on his return from a controversial trip to China and Australia, for which the president was criticized for leaving his country during a crisis at home.
“If what we want is justice and the perpetrators to pay, and the law to be fully applied, it can’t be done through violent actions and vandalism,” Peña Nieto justified.
More than 50 days on since the disappearance of 43 students, widespread protests continue both in Mexico, and internationally.
The outrage centers on the links between the kidnapping and the authorities that the case has exposed. The public outcry is seen to be a culmination of many years of frustration with forced disappearances and government corruption.
As well as the accusations of systemic corruption, Peña Nieto has also been dogged by personal criticisms. At the press conference he said he will give answers this week about the US$7 million house bought by his wife, Angelica Rivera.
“The criticism is, without a doubt, based on imprecise assertions, the issue will be clarified by presenting the corresponding and appropriate documentation,” Peña Nieto assured.
The acquisition of the couple’s so-called “white house” has raised eyebrows among the population about Peña Nieto’s ethical standards.