Mexico barricades presidential palace ahead of women's march

Lizbeth Diaz and Ana Isabel Martinez
·2 min read

By Lizbeth Diaz and Ana Isabel Martinez

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's government has walled off the presidential palace with a metallic barrier ahead of a planned women's march on Monday to protest rampant violence against women and the president's support for a gubernatorial candidate accused of rape.

Barriers were also installed around other emblematic buildings and monuments in downtown Mexico City where a year ago tens of thousands of people marched on International Women's Day, the vast majority peacefully.

"It is outrageous, few people support us in the cry for justice," said Becky Bios, who survived an attempted femicide -- a term for gender-driven killing -- in 2015 and will participate in the march.

Last year's march, however, was punctuated by clashes between marchers and apparent Nazi sympathizers that left dozens injured, with activists tossing Molotov cocktails at the National Palace and some buildings and cars vandalized.

"The fact that they're barricading the city shows they're aware that women have been listening to them, we have been watching them and apparently now they're the ones who are scared," said Arussi Unda, spokeswoman for the feminist collective Las Brujas del Mar, or Witches of the Sea.

Arussi said violence against women goes unpunished too often, leading to a pattern of revictimization. She believed the gubernatorial candidacy of Felix Salgado, who has been accused of rape, for the southern state of Guerrero is one example of that impunity.

A representative for Salgado, who has not been convicted, did not reply to requests for comment; media reported he has denied the allegations.

The accusation is based on a case a woman filed with prosecutors in Guerrero at the end of 2016, according to magazine Proceso.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has said that those calling on him to drop support for Salgado, a member of the ruling Morena party, are politically motivated.

In a country where femicides rose nearly 130% between 2015 and 2020, critics said the decision to erect 10-foot (3-meter) barriers around the National Palace is symptomatic of Lopez Obrador's apathy toward the crisis of violence afflicting women.

At least 939 women were victims of femicide last year in Mexico, according to official data.

"Mexico beautiful and beloved. Where the daughters come back in pieces. Where drug traffickers receive hugs and feminists are shot. Where rapists are governors. Where the National Palace is walled in order not to listen," said Twitter user @analuzsaso.

(Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz and Ana Isabel Martinez; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Leslie Adler)