MEXICO CITY – An International Women’s Day rally in Mexico on Tuesday drew thousands of protesters, with crowds marching against the violence and past the presidential palace and national memorials in the country. The capital is already fenced off with a giant metal fence amid fears of unrest.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has been accused of not doing enough to stop an increase in the killings of womencalled for calm while warning that the protests could turn violent.
Mexico City police said they seized Molotov cocktails, weapons such as bats, hammers and fireworks from protesters in the afternoon. Local media reported that two protesters were injured after swinging a hammock at a glass bus stop, falling on their heads.
Authorities erected a protective metal fence around the National Palace, the government headquarters where the president’s family lives and other historic buildings before the protests.
On Tuesday evening, video shared online showed a fire at the door of the government palace in Monterrey, the capital of Nuevo León state, after marchers entered the building, according to local news reports. . There was no immediate official confirmation of any damages. Riot police and firefighters deployed to the site.
The protesters wrote, “MEXICO FEMICIDE” in white lettering towering over black metal wire in front of the National Palace, which faces the main Zocalo square, the stage of many large rallies.
Last year, women marched on International Women’s Day as well clash with the police at the barricades surrounding the National Palace. Protesters tried to tear down a metal wall installed to protect government property from vandalism, prompting officers to spray tear gas.
Mexico recorded 969 murders of women last year, up slightly from 949 in 2020, according to government figures. Activists say the real number is likely much higher, and some estimate that 10 women are killed every day because of their gender.
A group of protesters chanted, “Women unite, never to be defeated,” as they approached the National Palace on Tuesday, waving white flags. Others, wearing purple scarves for feminism in the area or green in support of abortion rights, marched down one of Mexico City’s main avenues, holding banners and posters with slogans on them. feminist brand.
Frida Moreno, 21, a student who said abusive teachers damaged her upbringing, saying she believes it is her duty to march so that other young girls can enjoy the same experiences. similar experience.
“Although I feel privileged because I live in a safe area, no one can guarantee that one day I won’t disappear,” Ms. Moreno said, on the verge of tears.
Mr. López Obrador, who has appointed women to half of his cabinet, has rejected claims by activists that he is not interested in tackling the killings of women, saying progress was made to protect women’s rights.
Asked on Tuesday morning whether the protests could turn violent, as one government official had predicted, the president nodded.
“There is infiltration of the feminist movement in general by conservative groups,” he said, noting that “the use of violence for political purposes is misguided.”
The Mexico City government said it would deploy dozens of ambulance workers as well as an all-female police force.