Students in Mexico’s southern Guerrero state took over a radio station and raided supermarkets in the state capital Saturday, a day before the one-month anniversary of the disappearances of 43 students who have sparked mass anger against local and state authorities.
Dozens of protesters reportedly looted four department stores in Chilpancingo, the capital of Guerrero, Saturday morning, taking clothing, food items and appliances outside to the street for passersby to take. At one store, Comercial Mexicana, the students erected a banner reading “Everything Is Free.” Witnesses said the students’ faces were covered, and while they were armed with sticks, they didn’t attack any of the shoppers or workers.
Another group of four students occupied a local radio station Saturday morning, inviting listeners to take on the “capitalist stores.”
“We invite the population to take action and participate in our protests. Everything that we have taken out [of the stores] will be completely free,” they said. Department stores across the capital closed after reports of the raids surfaced.
Mass protests have raged across Guerrero state since 43 students from a teachers’ college disappeared Sept. 26. While most marches and vigils remained peaceful, some demonstrations have been chaotic. Protesters occupied the state Capitol last week and set parts of it on fire while another group of demonstrators set fire to the Town Hall at Iguala, the town where the students were last seen. Saturday's protesters were reportedly from the Raul Isidro Burgos Rural Normal school, the same college that the missing students attended.
The missing students case has come to exemplify Mexico's deeply rooted problems with corruption, insecurity, and linkages between security forces and organized crime. Protesters have been calling on authorities to determine the whereabouts of the students and seek justice for those responsible for the disappearances. Gov. Angel Aguirre stepped down Thursday under pressure from the growing protest movement.
Federal officials have accused the mayor of Iguala of ordering police to attack the students and hand them over to a local drug gang over fears the students would disrupt a speech being given by his wife. Authorities have ordered arrest warrants for both the mayor and his wife although they have not been seen since the day after the students first vanished.