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Protesters take to streets ahead of Mexico president's inauguration

December 01, 2012|By Tracy Wilkinson and Daniel Hernandez
  • A protester aims a Molotov cocktail at steel security barriers around the National Congress, where the swearing-in of Enrique Pena Nieto as president will take place in Mexico City later Saturday.
A protester aims a Molotov cocktail at steel security barriers around the… (Marco Ugarte / Associated…)

MEXICO CITY -- Violent protests preceded Saturday’s inauguration of Enrique Peña Nieto as president of Mexico, and several people were reported injured.

Peña Nieto, a telegenic and politically savvy former state governor, was scheduled to be formally sworn in during a ceremony at the lower house of Congress later in the day.

Inside and outside the heavily guarded San Lazaro Palace that houses the lower chamber, protests broke out ahead of the ceremony.

One huge black banner hoisted by leftist congressmen declared "Mexico in mourning," alluding to the tens of thousands of people killed during the six-year administration of Felipe Calderon, whom Pena Nieto is replacing. Others complained about what they contend was an unfair election and the “imposition” of Peña Nieto.

In the streets, students and others repeatedly clashed with police. Demonstrators hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails at metal barriers erected to block access to the Congress. Police fired tear gas and rubber-covered metal bullets. Several injuries were reported.

One student demonstrator received a head wound and was in critical condition, the Mexican Red Cross said.

The protests reflected discontent among some Mexicans who accuse Peña Nieto and his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) of using bribery and other tricks to win the election.  An election tribunal ruled against formal complaints and judged the July 1 election legitimate.
 
The inauguration marks the return to power of the PRI, which ruled for seven decades until being ousted from the presidency in 2000. Peña Nieto has promised a new and modern PRI that will not resort to its old tactics of corrupt, autocratic rule. Not all Mexicans are convinced.

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