Tens of thousands of people attended rallies in nearly every major city in Mexico on Wednesday, expressing solidarity with and concern for 43 teaching students missing since September 26. The gatherings were capped by a swarm of mostly silent demonstrators who spent hours streaming into Mexico City's central public square, the Zócalo, late into the chilly evening.
Demonstrations were also reported at Mexican embassies and consulates worldwide, particularly in the United States and across Latin America.
It was the largest expression of global rebuke of Mexico's culture of corruption and collusion between organized crime and government officials, and brought to mind images of protests that swept the globe in 2011 as Mexicans called for an end to the US-backed drug war.
Violence in Mexico has left an undetermined number of dead or missing since President Felipe Calderon's government declared war on the cartels in December 2006, and the carnage has shown no sign of slowing under the nearly two years since the start of President Enrique Peña Nieto's current term. Making matters worse, virtually no violent crimes are ever prosecuted in the country.
The Mexico City demonstration started at the Angel of Independence monument, the same meeting point that drew thousands earlier this month in the first major national demonstrations against the Iguala student killings and disappearances.
Students from the Ayotzinapa Normal School and parents of the missing young men traveled to the capital once more and led the march on the stately Paseo de Reforma, the central boulevard. Government officials said that 50,000 people participated.
The demonstration began at 6pm and by 11pm the last of the marchers were still arriving at the Zocalo, reports said.
Above, parents hold portraits of the missing Ayotzinapa students during the protest in Mexico City. Once in the Zocalo, demonstrators placed candles and a large phrase of protest on the plaza floor.
In this time-lapse footage, Mexico City police and municipal workers are seen removing the protestors' message of "Fue el Estado" — meaning, "It was the State" — on the Zocalo after the demonstrators had left the square.
In Spain on Wednesday, protesters who attempted to demonstrate in solidarity before the Mexican Embassy in Madrid were dispersed by police, leading to complaints of discriminatory treatment toward Mexican nationals living in Spain.
Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murrillo Karam this week confirmed that the fugitive mayor of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, and his wife Maria de los Angeles Pineda, directly ordered the attacks on the students on the night of September 26. Abarca and Pineda remain at large.
Above, demonstrators gather in Oaxaca City, Oaxaca, one of many cities across Mexico that held protests on Wednesday.
In the city of Hermosillo, students at the University of Sonora staged a chilling performance on a plaza "re-enacting" the Iguala attacks. "We are students, don't shoot!" the demonstrators shout in unison. Watch the clip below.
The following video provides an overhead view of Paseo de la Reforma during Wednesday's demonstration in Mexico City.
Paris was among dozens of cities worldwide where concurrent demonstrations also took place in recent days. Following below are images from other protests gathered via Twitter.