Women marching on International Women’s Day have clashed with police at the barricades surrounding the National Palace in Mexico City, where officers fired pepper spray after protesters tried to tear down a metal wall.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador installed the metal wall around the National Palace ahead of the March 8 protests: a barricade his spokesperson called a “wall of peace,” saying he wanted to protect government property from vandalism.
But the wall turned out to be a provocation for the women, who accused the president, famous for traveling in light safety to corners of the country controlled by drug cartels, of fearing the feminist movement and of turning his back on concerns such as rampant sexual violence. and the 10. femicides of women every day.
At least 939 women were victims of femicide in Mexico last year, official data shows.
“Where were you when they raped me,” said a woman I heard screaming to the police amid the chaos.
López Obrador has had a strained relationship with the feminist movement, which he has accused of being manipulated by conservative opponents and influenced by foreign ideas.
“We want him to protect us in the same way that he protects these buildings,” said 19-year-old Vania Palacios, who carried a sign that read: “Fight today so you don’t die tomorrow.”
The protesters wrote the names of the victims of femicide on the barricade after it was installed on Friday and then covered with flowers. They also projected slogans in the National Palace, seat of power since Aztec times, which read: “Femicide in Mexico” and “Legal abortion now.”
Another slogan contained the allegation “a rapist will not be governor,” a reference to Félix Salgado Macedonio, who is running for office in the southern state of Guerrero, with the backing of López Obrador. Salgado has denied sexually assaulting five women and no charges have been filed against him.
The president, who is often referred to as Amlo, has faced criticism from women in his Morena party, who have asked him to remove the candidate.
For his part, Salgado generated outrage on Monday when he tweeted his “admiration” for women and praised their struggle.
“This president has lied to us,” said Teresa Ramírez, a protester who posted Amlo and Salgado posters with the slogan: “Not one vote for Morena.”
“We thought he would have answers, but he has made fun of us, especially on women’s issues.”
Women have proven to be a thorn in the side of Amlo, the popular and populist president. He has identified himself as a leftist and has branded his opponents conservative, but has often preached morals and values and leaned conservative on social issues.
It has cut funding for daycare centers and women’s shelters and promoted families as a solution to the hardships of the pandemic, even as domestic violence has skyrocketed.
On Monday, she said the women’s protests didn’t happen until she took office, something feminists called untrue.
“We have a saying in Spanish, ‘when you’re quiet, you look prettier.’ And he seems to subscribe to it, ”said Maricruz Ocampo, an activist from the city of Querétaro. “Feminists have decided that we do not look better when we are quiet because when we are quiet no one sees us and no one hears us.”
Many women had expressed hope for the Amlo administration, Ocampo said, and he promoted women with feminist sympathies to key positions, in addition to appointing a gender-balanced booth. But he has not acted on issues such as abortion and his allies at the state level, which includes a party founded by evangelicals, have mostly preferred not to raise sensitive social issues.
“For many feminists, it seemed that a government was coming that would take care of their agenda,” said Bárbara González, a political analyst in Monterrey. “But it is not only Amlo who has stood up to the movement … he has always described it as manipulated and lacking in legitimacy.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism