AMLO Defends Barricading Palace as Mexico’s Women Protest Violence
(Bloomberg) -- Thousands of women protested in Mexico City against rising gender violence on Monday, with some directing their outrage at the government of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Feminist groups marched through the streets chanting, “Not one more, not one murder more.” Some demonstrators clashed with police and breached part of a 3-meter barricade that was placed around the national palace.
The president, whose leftist roots have made his clash with feminists all the more unusual, defended his record on gender equality Monday, noting that half of his cabinet is female.
“That has never happened, it’s never been seen in Mexico,” he said.
Female activists are protesting against soaring gender violence in Mexico, which saw murders of women rise 74% over the past five years. Lopez Obrador has stoked the outrage by refusing to condemn a candidate for governor from his party who has been accused of rape. The president has consistently dismissed feminist opposition to his government, suggesting the growing movement is being infiltrated by cynical conservatives who oppose him for ideological reasons.
Lopez Obrador had said earlier that the barrier would avoid confrontation with riot police and prevent injuries during the march. In a show of defiance, activists painted the barriers over the weekend with the names of women killed, many if them in hate crimes classified in Mexico as femicide.
Women pasted names onto street signs, changing them to the names of people ranging from a murdered journalist to an bee-keeping environmental defender. Activists waved purple signs and flags as they marched through the city, with slogans about the defense of women’s rights.
“We have to take care of women, and we have to take care of those who are going to protest, even if they do so violently, because imagine if a firecracker or Molotov cocktail exploded – we don’t want that.” Lopez Obrador said.
Mexico’s feminist movement gained international attention last year through a national strike and the takeover of a national human rights office.
Lopez Obrador has come under fire for declining to disavow Felix Salgado Macedonio, the candidate for governor of Guerrero in June 6 elections who has twice been accused of rape. Salgado has denied the accusations. Last night, protesters projected the words “A Rapist Will Not Be Governor” and “Legalize Abortion Already” on the walls of the national palace, right behind the barricade.
Over 500 politicians and supporters of the president’s Morena party denounced Salgado and called for his removal in a letter. One member, activist Estefania Veloz, announced Monday she was leaving the party. Celebrities like singer Julieta Venegas and actor Gael Garcia Bernal have called on the president to stop criticizing the protest movement.
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