Mexico City – As Mexico swore in its new president last weekend, Mexico City's human rights commission says police arbitrarily detained peaceful protesters.
The independent organization says in a Thursday report that 22 people were randomly chosen by the capital's police. The document says they detained people peacefully protesting the inauguration of President Enrique Pena Nieto, helping the injured, documenting the demonstrations or just passing by.
Pena Nieto brought the Institutional Revolutionary Party back to the presidency after a 12-year break. The party governed for 71 years using a mix of handouts and rigged votes before losing the 2000 and 2006 elections.
Hundreds of protesters threw firebombs at police and smashed windows on inauguration day. At least 76 people were injured and 103 detained.
Many of the protesters during Saturday's innauguration identified themselves as “anarchists,” while bashing in windows of hotels, restaurants and banks in the capital city’s historic center.
The violence marred otherwise peaceful protests around centro histórico, where the newly inaugurated Peña Nieto was delivering a speech inside the National Palace.
Broken glass littered Avenida Juárez where protesters destroyed the façade of the Hilton and Fiesta Inn hotels. The plush purple chairs of a corner Starbucks sat in the open air, covered in shards of glass.
We’ve never had a provocation like this in the city.
- Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard
Across the street in the newly rehabilitated Alameda Park—part of a popular tourist corridor that leads toward the famous Zocalo plaza and National Palace—protesters sprayed graffiti on statues and monuments.
The damage was done despite there being several hundred city and federal police on guard in the area.
“We’ve never had a provocation like this in the city,” Ebrard said in a press conference. “We reject totally and absolutely these barbarous acts.”
In several skirmishes, protesters also hurled rocks and other objects at police, who responded with tear gas. There were reports of damages to businesses along two other important thoroughfares, Reforma and Insurgentes avenues.
The youth movement known for its hashtag #YoSoy132 and its disdain for Peña Nieto wrote from its official Twitter account that the movement isn’t in agreement “with the imposition” of Peña Nieto “nor with the violence.” The movement repeated its commitment to pacific demonstrations.
With reporting by the Associated Press.