Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador tried to focus attention on the large number of women in his cabinet, and not on a day of protests over the fact that he has refused to break with a state candidate accused of rape.
Thousands of women marched in Mexico City on Monday to mark Women’s Day, focusing the spotlight on López Obrador’s contradictions.
A progressive who cites his long record of social struggle and says “the poor come first”, the president is also a social conservative who largely leaves abortion to state law and says the family is the center of society.
“He should start fighting right, but for the women of Mexico,” said marcher Ana De la Toba, a 39-year-old lawyer in Mexico City.
These contradictions were displayed in Mexico City’s main central square, after the government erected high barriers against steel protection in front of the National Palace and activists quickly adorned the structures with flowers and the names of female murder victims.
The president said the barriers were intended to protect buildings and monuments in the center from colonial times that have been spray-painted with graffiti during previous feminist demonstrations, but marchers did not accept it.
“Why do they want pure monuments, in a land overflowing with blood?” marched the cormorants.
Some marches broke through barricades and shattered glass windows in a hotel in the city center. Later, other centuries-old tiles on a landmark building were damaged with a hammer, and some protesters attacked police in the square with stones, bottles, metal poles, spray paint and flames from lit aerosol cans.
Sixty-two officers and 19 civilians were injured during the incidents, said Marcela Figueroa, an official with the city police.
“Half of the cabinet is women,” López Obrador said at his daily press conference this morning. “It has never been seen before in Mexico.” Yet old habits die hard; During the same press conference, the president referred to a female reporter as “corazón”, roughly “darling.”
Last week, the president tried to divert criticism of his support for the party’s candidate for governor of the southern state of Guerrero, Félix Salgado, who has been accused of raping two women, although he has not been charged. López Obrador said the issue should be left to Guerrero voters and claims it is being addressed by his enemies, the “conservatives”.
“Suddenly the conservatives declare themselves feminists, very strange. Why? Because they see it as an opportunity to attack us, the president said.
Attention was focused on the barricades erected in front of the colonial national palace where López Obrador lives and works. ) The president himself once led protests in the same square. The president said the barriers would prevent attacks with fireplaces at the historic palace, which occurred during a women’s march last year.
“The barricades were set up because the conservatives are very upset,” said López Obrador. “They infiltrate all movements to create provocations … they planned to vandalize the National Palace.”
The president said two women had been found with petrol bombs at a workshop in an upscale neighborhood in Mexico City, saying, “I’m sure … they were informed about this.”
Salgado has not been charged because prosecutors say the statute of limitations ended on one of the charges while another is still under investigation. His lawyer has denied the allegations.
López Obrador’s Morena party has planned a reconsideration of an internal vote to see if Salgado remains a candidate, and a group of female Morena lawmakers urged him to resign.
Authorities estimated that there would be nearly 100 women’s marches in cities and towns throughout Mexico. Some local and state authorities appointed troops with female officers to ensure the safety of the marches.