HUFFINGTON POST
09/26/2015 08:12 pm ET

Thousands Protest In Mexico One Year After 43 Students Went Missing

The students' relatives led a massive "march of national indignation" through the capital.
Relatives of the 43 missing students of Ayotzinapa march during the one-year anniversary of their disappearance in Mexico&nbs
Credit: Miguel Tovar/LatinContent/Getty Images
Relatives of the 43 missing students of Ayotzinapa march during the one-year anniversary of their disappearance in Mexico City on Sept. 26, 2015. One year ago, 3 students were killed and 43 vanished in the town of Iguala after confrontation with police.

Thousands of people marched through Mexico City Saturday to mark one year since 43 students disappeared into the night, sparking widespread outrage at government corruption and ineptitude.

Relatives of the missing students led the "march of national indignation" through the Mexican capital, the newspaper Proceso reported. Many protesters held aloft images of their missing sons and banners in Spanish proclaiming "We are missing 43" and "It was the state."

"We will march with energy. We can't rest in our search," Felipe de la Cruz, a spokesman for the students' families, told Agence France-Presse ahead of the protest.

A woman takes part in a protest in Mexico City on Sept. 26, 2015, to commemorate the first anniversary of Ayotzinapa stu
Credit: YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images
A woman takes part in a protest in Mexico City on Sept. 26, 2015, to commemorate the first anniversary of Ayotzinapa students' disappearance. Many held images of the students and banners calling for their safe return.
A woman holds a fake coffin with skulls marked justice, democracy and freedom, below a banner reading "It was the state"
Credit: YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images
A woman holds a fake coffin with skulls marked justice, democracy and freedom, below a banner reading "It was the state" in Spanish.

Their sons' disappearance after a clash with police ignited protests around the country against Mexico's government. It reinforced a widespread perception of official collusion with the cartels and anger over the staggering scale of disappearances in Mexico -- 25,000 people in the last eight years, according to government figures.

On Saturday, large rallies were held in several other cities around Mexico to commemorate the students' disappearance and decry the government's handling of the case. 

The families of the missing students have always distrusted the government's account of what happened to their relatives on the night of Sept. 26, 2014. The male students of Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers College came under attack several times by Mexican security forces that evening in the nearby city of Iguala, after they tried to commandeer buses for an upcoming protest. By the end of the night, three of them were dead and 43 were missing. The government said the students were abducted by local police, who handed them to be killed by the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel.

But the official account of events is riddled with holes and inconsistencies. The government faced accusations that suspects and witnesses were tortured and that their refusal to investigate the role of federal forces amounted to a cover-up.

Last week a group of experts commissioned by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights confirmed the doubts of many when they released a damning report on the federal investigation and challenged the government's version of events

Parents of the students this week held a 43-hour fast for their sons, set up a protest camp in the capital and presented a list of demands to Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. "We won't rest, we will be a pebble in his shoes. We won't go home,"  Maria de Jesus Tlatempa, mother of José Eduardo Bartolo Tlatempa, one of the missing students, told Agence France-Presse Wednesday.

As they marched through the streets of the capital, Pena Nieto was set to fly to New York to take part in the United Nations General Assembly.

See more photos from Mexico on the anniversary below:

Relatives and supporters of the missing 43 students march through Mexico City Sept. 26, 2015. The students, from a rural
Credit: YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images
Relatives and supporters of the missing 43 students march through Mexico City Sept. 26, 2015. The students, from a rural teachers college in the southern state of Guerrero, disappeared after they were attacked by local police in the city of Iguala on Sept. 26, 2014.
Thousands commemorate the first anniversary of the students' disappearance by marching in Mexico City.
Credit: YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images
Thousands commemorate the first anniversary of the students' disappearance by marching in Mexico City.
Some protesters held signs reading "Nos faltan 43," Spanish for 'We are missing 43."
Credit: RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP/Getty Images
Some protesters held signs reading "Nos faltan 43," Spanish for 'We are missing 43."
Classmates of the missing Ayotzinapa students shout slogans during the one-year anniversary of the disappearance march o
Credit: Miguel Tovar/STF via Getty Images
Classmates of the missing Ayotzinapa students shout slogans during the one-year anniversary of the disappearance march on September 26, 2015 in Mexico City.
The government's investigation of the students' disappearance has drawn widespread criticism.
Credit: YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images
The government's investigation of the students' disappearance has drawn widespread criticism.
President Enrique Peña Nieto met the families of the missing students this week.
Credit: YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images
President Enrique Peña Nieto met the families of the missing students this week.
Banners of 43 missing students are displayed during a march in Mexico City to commemorate the anniversary of their disappeara
Credit: YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images
Banners of 43 missing students are displayed during a march in Mexico City to commemorate the anniversary of their disappearance.
Thousands attended the anniversary protests in the capital.
Credit: Brett Gundlock/Getty Images
Thousands attended the anniversary protests in the capital.
People visit the school of Ayotzinapa in the Mexican state of Guerrero during the first anniversary of the 43 students'
Credit: Pedro PARDO/AFP/Getty Images
People visit the school of Ayotzinapa in the Mexican state of Guerrero during the first anniversary of the 43 students' disappearance on Sept. 26, 2015.

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