Tuesday, May 18

8M: López Obrador tries to justify the siege of the National Palace: “We must protect and avoid provocations”

A fence installed in front of the National Palace in preparation for the upcoming International Women's Day demonstration.
A fence installed in front of the National Palace in preparation for the upcoming International Women’s Day demonstration.Aurea Del Rosario / The Country

The Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, tried this Saturday to justify the shielding of the National Palace, fenced off with a view to the March 8 demonstrations. The president took refuge in the protection of heritage, affirmed that the protests may be infiltrated and assured that the deployment of security aims to “avoid provocations.” In addition to the headquarters of the Government and the official residence, the authorities at the end of the week also walled up public facilities and commercial activities in some streets of the historic center of Mexico City. To these images, which had already received criticism from the feminist movement, some statements have been added that instead of containing the controversy, they feed it due to their paternalistic tinge.

“There in Mexico City they also put up, I take the opportunity to inform, a fence because there is going to be a demonstration of women,” said López Obrador during a visit to Campeche to supervise a section of the Mayan Train. “They have every right to protest, to express themselves, to demonstrate, but there is a lot of provocation, many people who infiltrate and what they want is to cause harm, they use violence as a form of protest and throw Molotov cocktails and we don’t want there to be wounded on either side. In other words, we do not want the public security forces to be injured, nor do we want the women who protest using this right to also be affected, harmed, ”the president continued, adding. “We have to protect ourselves and also protect our historic buildings, historical monuments. […] We are never going to repress the people, but we do have to avoid provocations, people who want nothing more to cause harm ”.

The preventive argument for peace and non-violence is not new and was also heard, for example, in the face of the mobilizations of March 8 of last year. The outrage that these affirmations arouse in the feminist movement, which also occurs in the grassroots and among Morena voters, has to do precisely with the fact that the protests on International Women’s Day are, in the first place, manifestations of repudiation of the violence. In Mexico, more than 3,000 sexist murders are perpetrated a year and practically all crimes of sexual violence remain unpunished.

The government tried to add explanations to López Obrador’s words. “The president gives guarantees to the 8-M demonstrations. The siege of the National Palace is to protect and not to repress; to take care of the heritage of all Mexicans and avoid confrontation. It is a wall of peace that guarantees freedom and protects from provocations ”, wrote on his social networks the spokesman Jesús Ramírez, coordinator of Social Communication of the Presidency of the Republic, who called to act peacefully with references to Gandhi, Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther king. The Fourth Transformation, he stressed, “is peaceful and respects human rights; guarantees freedoms, all demonstrations ”. “That is the way: convince, argue. Do not impose, do not drop bombs, do not attack, “he said.

On Friday also Claudia Sheinbaum, head of the Government of Mexico City, had manifested before the shield of the historic center that “social demonstrations are not repressed, but we cannot allow other citizens to be attacked.” The policy made reference to previous mobilizations in which riots and attacks on the security forces were registered.

The March 8 marches are held this year coinciding with the start of the June 6 election campaign, which will renew the Chamber of Deputies and the Governments of 15 of the 32 states of the country. On Friday the electoral race began in Nuevo León, Colima, San Luis Potosí, Colima Sonora and Guerrero. In the latter state, the pre-campaign has been marked by the controversial candidacy of a leader close to López Obrador. The rejection caused by the applicant Félix Salgado Macedonio, denounced for rape and accused of sexual harassment, even opened a front in Morena. In the midst of the unqualified defense of the president and the apparatus, a party guarantees committee forced a repeat of the internal poll to choose the candidate. Salgado Macedonio appeared again and, although the campaign has already started and the electoral authority of Guerrero has already authorized him to attend the elections, Morena has not yet communicated the results.

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