This week, visitors to the National Palace in Mexico City will be met with the names of hundreds of femicide victims in Mexico, a nation where 10 women are murdered every day on average. Activists gathered on Saturday to paint the names on the metal fencing surrounding the presidential residence, erected ahead of planned demonstrations yesterday and today, National Women’s Day.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) said he decided to barricade the colonial-era building and nearby Fine Arts Palace to protect them from possible damage during the feminist march today, but critics saw the move as a symbolic dismissal of the country’s gender violence epidemic. According to official data, femicides rose nearly 130% between 2015 and 2020 in Mexico, and at least 939 women were murdered last year.
A year ago, activists gathered in front of the National Palace to protest violence against women following the killing and brutal mutilation of 25-year-old Ingrid Escamilla, dousing its doors in red paint and the words “femicide state.” Her name and countless others now surround the building along with messages of support and solidarity, such as the phrases “Trans women are part of my struggle” and “Legal abortion now” in bright pink letters.
In a press conference this morning, AMLO described the act of writing the victims’ names as “creative” and “dignified.” However, the populist leader has consistently alienated and antagonized the growing feminist movement in Mexico. Over the last month, AMLO has been condemned for supporting the gubernatorial candidacy of Félix Salgado Macedonio, a former senator who has been accused of rape.
In addition to the metal fencing, city officials said they would deploy police downtown, including more than 2,000 women officers, to safeguard demonstrators and historic monuments.
“This is not a ‘mural of peace,’ it’s a mural of indifference, impunity, and pain,” tweeted Ytzel Maya, a Mexico City-based writer.