By KELIN DILLON
On International Women’s Day, Monday, March 8, over 20,000 of Mexico’s women marched throughout Mexico City in planned protests of violence nationwide against women, and the country’s high femicide rate of more than 10 women killed each day, reaching the National Palace, where they rallied against populist Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) for his apparent dismissiveness of women’s rights.
The feminist parade began with a massive congregation at the Monument of the Revolution, spreading out to the Zócalo, where the National Palace is located, at 4 p.m. All protestors were encouraged to follow covid-19 safety regulations in terms of facemasks and use of antibacterial gel, though the large number of women present made social-distancing all but impossible
The march, many say, had only been inflamed by AMLO’s disregard for women’s rights, including the recent erection of a two-meter high barrier in front of the National Palace in anticipation of the protest, which feminists later inscribed with the names of femicide victims, despite López Obrador describing himself as progressive.
Protestors tore down six sections of the wall in front of the National Palace in the afternoon, and tear gas and firecrackers were reportedly thrown into the crowds of women, causing many of the marchers to have to put aside covid-19 health regulations and lower their face masks in order to catch their breath. Others spotted snipers on the roof of the National Palace, overlooking the crowds in the Zócalo.
A reported 62 officers and 19 civilians were injured in confrontations between the two, with photos of protestors destroying traffic lights and breaking windows of government buildings also surfacing throughout the day.
In an article published in Britain’s The Guardian on Monday, March 8, journalist Elisabeth Malkin revealed how López Obrador regularly points to the large number of women appointed to his cabinet as a display of his confidence in women, but that he regularly ignores the everyday violence women in Mexico face and postures that women are being manipulated by his conservative opponents.
“He has placed the feminist movement as Public Enemy Number One,” Arussi Unda, spokeswoman for feminist organization Las Brujas del Mar, told Malkin. “We are not asking for crazy things. We’re asking that women get to work, that women aren’t killed and girls aren’t raped. It’s not insane, not eccentric, it’s human rights.”
López Obrador has also come under fire for his continued support of alleged rapist Félix Salgado Macedonio in his continued campaign for the gubernatorial seat of Guerrero, which spawned protests earlier in the month that bleed into the larger women’s march now and the “President, break the pact” movement.
During his daily press conference on the very morning of the march, López Obrador continued his dismissal of the issue, claiming that his government “have already broken the pact” of patriarchy and that the protesting women’s issues lie with “the oligarchy” of his predecessors, despite many women claiming that the president has exacerbated the issue himself.
“There is nothing feminist about Morena,” said Yolitzin Jaimes, an activist from the state of Guerrero, the same state alleged rapist Salgado Macedonio vies for the governorship of. “The conservative one is the president.”
The same day, a group of over 2,500 women sent a letter to AMLO asking the president to create a national plan of protection against violence for women in Mexico and urging him to help dismantle the patriarchy.
“We live in a country where 11 women and minors are murdered every day,” detailed the letter. “97 percent of femicides go unpunished. Every 4 minutes a woman is raped.”
“We demand a halt to your disdain, we are tired of being disqualified, Mr. President, we are not a political party, we are a collective voice,” continued the letter, calling out López Obrador for his apparent dismissal of the issue and perpetuation of the problem.
For her part on International Women’s Day, Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum announced the publication of the new Women’s Rights Booklet, a guide created to raise awareness about the types of violence against women in Mexico City, alongside a list of public care services located around the capital.
In a tweet, Sheinbaum said the guide was made to “let women know that they are not alone, that the government of Mexico City is with them.”
…March 9, 2021