MEXICO – Five police officers and a protester were injured as hundreds of protesters clashed with authorities outside Mexico’s Congress on Saturday.
Five hundred protesters many in masks throwing objects and Molotov cocktails outside the congress, which was surrounded by metal barricades caused the melee for which the police responded with tear gas. The protest was held ahead of Enrique Pena Nieto’s presidential inauguration.
Pena Nieto, 46, a lawyer by profession is a former Mexico state governor.
The injured included one officer hit in the face by a stone and two others struck by a Molotov cocktail. Apparently affected by tear gas were two more officers, while a protesters appeared to have a sustained a head injury. They were immediately taken away in ambulances.
The protesters who took to the streets to protest Pena Nieto’s inauguration chanted “Mexico without PRI!”
An officer told reporters that they were not expecting that the protest would turn violent.
The victory of Pena Nieto marks the return of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). The PRI for 71 years ruled Mexico with an authoritarian hand until 2000, when it lost the presidential election.
Leftist Leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador who lost to Pena Nieto has refused to concede defeat and claimed that the PRI bought millions of votes. However, the electoral court threw out his claims.
Meantime, some lawmakers held up protest signs against Pena Nieto inside the congress. One lawmaker before the swearing in ceremony held a sign that read: “Pena Nieto president of the teleprompter.”
Responding to the attacks, Pena Nieto said the PRI will not repeat its dark past and have embraced democracy. Among the problems that the news president will inherit is a brutal drug war that has resulted to 60,000 deaths in the last six years.
The administration of outgoing president Felipe Calderon who launched a military offensive against the gangs in 2006 saw the height of violence among the country’s most powerful drug cartels.