International Women’s Day in Mexico Casts a Dark Shadow
By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Thousands of Mexican women are expected to take to the streets on Tuesday, March 8, to mark International Women’s Day (IWD), and while President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has called on the marchers to avoid violence, few expect the protests to be 100 percent pacifistic.
Mexico, with one of the highest per capita incidences of femicides and other gender-based violence in the world, has long been a brew kettle for feminine discontent, especially since AMLO took office in December 2018, almost immediately ordering the closure of all government women’s shelters and daycare centers, and constantly dismissing female protestors as “pawns of rightwing coup-mongers.”
Last year in Mexico City, AMLO refused to meet with the women and ordered a two-meter-high barrier to surround the National Palace in anticipation of their march.
When the protesting women tore down six sections of that wall, they were met with tear gas and riot police with plastic shields.
Tensions soon got out of hand, leaving a casualty toll of more than 80 persons injured, including police officers and civilians.
Things are only expected to be worse this year.
The protective wall around the National Palace will to be even larger than last year, and the Mexico City government has ordered 3,000 female police officers to be deployed where protestors are slated to march (starting at the Monumento de la Revolución and proceeding to the Zócalo, across from the National Palace).
AMLO’s response on Monday, March 7 — the day before the IWD march — to the upcoming protests only served to antagonize the country’s women even further.
Once again, he claimed that they are being played as puppets of conservative powers.
He also said that his administration had information suggesting that the “so-called protestors” had a stock of “sledgehammers, blowtorches and Molotov cocktails,” clear evidence that they “were not out for a peaceful march.”
Meanwhile, the numbers of femicides in Mexico continues to climb, with more than 1,000 confirmed gender-based murders registered in 2021, up 2.66 percent over the tally for 2020.
And less than 5 percent of those cases ever come to trial, much less lead to convictions.
The AMLO administration has been intentionally ambiguous on the issue of gender-based violence, thus inflaming simmering feminist anger.
To AMLO, women are an inconvenient nuisance who are unable to come up with original thoughts on their own and against whom walls must be erected to keep them from infiltrating his seat of power.
And for AMLO, femicide is, in his words, “almost always a made-up crime.”
But for the women of Mexico, who make up 51 percent of the national population, femicide is real.
As of the start of this year, there were almost 25,000 disappeared females in Mexico, and each day more than 10 women are murdered.
According to figures from the National Survey on the Dynamic of Household Relationships (Endireh), more than 66 percent of Mexican women have experienced some type of violence during their lives.
AMLO said Monday that he cannot understand why Mexico’s women are so angry.
Perhaps he never will.
But what he should understand is that anger is an energizing force, and as long as it continues to grow among the nation’s women, his power and popularity will continue to erode.