Shouts from thousands of angry demonstrators drowned out the cheers of the few supporters who greeted Carlos Salinas de Gortari on his presidential inauguration.
Even uniformed police and army soldiers outnumbered the handful of citizens who showed up Thursday along the inaugural parade route to welcome President Salinas.The protesters claim Salinas, of the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party, stole the presidency in a July 6 fraud-tainted election from Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, leader of the National Democratic Front, an organization of four leftist parties.
"We know that in this country an electoral fraud was committed and today an illegitimate presidency has been consummated," Cardenas told 6,000 people who gathered for the afternoon march, the largest protest of the day.
Cardenas urged his supporters to avoid violence and organize to work for fair elections and nationwide democracy.
Before dawn, authorities removed protesters from the plaza in front of the Legislative Palace, site of the inauguration, and bused 200 to 300 of them out of the city, demonstrators said.
Most were back within hours for a demonstration at the Zocalo, Mexico City's central plaza, where police used tear gas to disperse them again.
A police blockade around the legislative chamber failed to prevent angry protesters from throwing rocks at the building during the ceremony.
Protesters then gathered at Independence Monument for what was planned as a silent protest but was marked by drumbeats, catcalls at security forces and shouts of "Death to Salinas!"
Many marchers carried sticks. Others wore black bows to mourn what they called "the death of democracy."
Cuban President Fidel Castro, one of seven Latin American presidents who came to Mexico to attend Salinas' inauguration, said he felt optimistic about developments in other regions of the world.
"There are not many hopes (with the United States), but at least some things are changing," Castro said. "The situations in Central America and our relations with Angola are improving."
Castro wore a dress military uniform and was accompanied by a group of security officers.
Mexico was the only Latin American country that refused to break diplomatic relations with Cuba after the United States began to try to isolate Castro a quarter century ago following the revolution that swept him to power in 1959.
During Salinas' inauguration ceremony, Castro stood in the front row with the other Latin American presidents, including Raul Alfonsin of Argentina, Jose Napoleon Duarte of El Salvador and Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua.
Castro said upon arriving Wednesday that he looked forward to his meeting in Cuba next week with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. "(Gor-bachev's visit) is going to be very useful for relations between Cuba and the Soviet Union," Castro said. Gorbachev is scheduled to arrive in Havana on Dec. 9.