Things That Matter

Amid Rising Domestic Violence, Mexico’s AMLO Says That 90% Of Women’s Calls For Help Are Fake

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, AMLO, has faced serious criticism from around the world for his handling of the Coronavirus pandemic. His government has been accused of fumbling its response and not having a real, concrete plan to help the country of nearly 130 million people weather the storm.

However, before the pandemic arrived, AMLO was also in hot water for his handling of increased gender-based violence across the country – with femicides reaching record levels. So far, his response has been to brush the issue away as ‘fake news concocted by his opposition.

Now the two issues of femicide and the pandemic have collided as there’s also been an increase in domestic violence, as victims are forced to stay at home. But yet again, AMLO is denying these reports as fake news.

The Mexican President said that Coronavirus lockdowns won’t contribute to violence as much as in other countries because ‘Mexicans are different.’

At one of his daily press conferences meant to address the Coronavirus and a variety of other issues affecting the country, President AMLO made sure to preface his statement with a fairly long disclaimer of sorts. He urged the media not to misquote him or misreport what he said – but it was quite clear:

“I’m going to give you a piece of information that doesn’t mean that violence against women doesn’t exist,” AMLO said. “I don’t want you to misinterpret me because a lot of what I say is taken out of context: 90% of those calls … are false, it’s proven.”

Instead, the president maintained a more romantic view of life under quarantine in Mexico, where he said “there has always been harmonious cohabitation.”

“The Mexican family is different from families in Europe and the United States; Mexicans are used to living together, being together. … In the homes of Mexicans, the children are there, the daughters-in-law, the grandchildren, and there has always been harmonious cohabitation. In other places, where this tradition, this culture, doesn’t exist it might be that isolation causes aggravation, confrontation and violence,” he said.

President AMLO is literally denying several reports that contradict his hopeful narrative.

Credit: Hector Vivas / Getty

According to the Spotlight Initiative, a partnership between the United Nations and the European Union that is aiming to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls by 2030, Mexican women made more than 115,000 calls to the 911 emergency number in March to report violence, a 22% increase compared to February. The figure equates to an average of 155 calls per hour during the month.

But according to the president, 90% of these are fake.

After his own Interior Secretary estimated that violence against women had increased 60% during the coronavirus isolation period, the president said it wasn’t necessarily true.

Such violence “cannot be measured using the same parameters as the rest of the world. In Mexico we have a culture of solidarity within the family. The family in Mexico is exceptional, it’s the most fraternal human nucleus…”

For his part, AMLO did say that the Interior Ministry and the National Women’s Institute are taking action against the problem but sought to downplay its severity.

Denying violence against women has been a cornerstone of AMLO’s presidency.

Almost 1,000 women have been murdered in Mexico in the first three months of the year, in comparison to 890 murders last year. Nearly 250 of these murders are attributed to femicide, or the act of killing a woman because of her gender. Across the region, domestic abuse rates have drastically increased since countries began nationwide lockdowns. Nearly 20 million women and girls experience sexual and physical abuse each year in Latin America.

Endless stories on horrific murders – and daily indignities such as harassment, catcalls and being groped on public transit – have prompted a burgeoning women’s movement, whose members have protested online and in the streets and organized a national women’s strike on March 9th.

However, the president has cast himself as the victim of feminist activists and an opposition that is creating the issue solely to undermine his presidency.

Feminists continue denouncing femicides committed during the pandemic and demanding justice. Despite campus closures, students maintained a five-month-long occupation of the School of Philosophy and Letters at Mexico’s top public university, UNAM, and its affiliate high schools over authorities’ inaction in the face of widespread sexual harassment, assault, and even the deaths and disappearances of students.

Despite the López Obrador’s remarks, his supporters are still hopeful that his government can implement a feminist agenda.

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Mexican Politician Accused Of Rape Vows To Block Elections Unless He’s Allowed To Run

Things That Matter

Mexican Politician Accused Of Rape Vows To Block Elections Unless He’s Allowed To Run

FRANCISCO ROBLES/AFP via Getty Images

It’s an election year in Mexico and that means that things are heating up as candidates fight for the top spot. At the same time, Mexico is experiencing a burgeoning fight for women’s rights that demands accountability and justice. Despite all the marches and protests and civil disobedience by hundreds of thousands of Mexicans, it remains to be seen how much change will happen and when. 

Case in point: Félix Salgado, a candidate for governor of Guerrero who has been accused of rape and sexual assault but maintains the support of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO). Now, after being disqualified from the race because of undisclosed campaign finances, the candidate is vowing to block any elections from taking place unless he is allowed to continue his campaign. 

A disqualified candidate is vowing to block elections unless he’s allowed to run.

Félix Salgado was running to be governor of the Mexican state of Guerrero when he was faced with allegations of rape and sexual assault. The commission that selects party candidates allowed him to remain in the race and he continues to maintain the support of President AMLO – who is of the same political party, Morena. 

However, in late March, election regulators ordered that Salgado be taken off the ballot due to a failure to report campaign spending, according to the AP. Mexico’s electoral court ordered the Federal Electoral Institute (FEI) to reconsider their decision last week. Salgado is already threatening to throw the election process into chaos.

“If we are on the ballot, there will be elections,” Salgado told supporters in Guerrero after leading a caravan of protestors to the FEI’s office in Mexico City on Sunday. “If we are not on the ballot, there will not be any elections,” Salgado said.

The AP notes that Salgado is not making an empty threat. Guerrero is an embattled state overrun with violence and drug gangs and many elections have been previously disrupted. Past governors have been forced out of office before finishing their terms. Salgado was previously filmed getting into a confrontation with police in 2000.

It was just weeks ago that the ruling party allowed Salgado’s candidacy to move forward.

In mid-March, Morena confirmed that Félix Salgado would be its candidate for governor in Guerrero after completing a new selection process in which the former senator was reportedly pitted against four women.

Morena polled citizens in Guerrero last weekend to determine levels of support for five different possible candidates, according to media reports. Among the four women who were included in the process were Acapulco Mayor Adela Román and Senator Nestora Salgado.

Félix Salgado was the clear winner of the survey, even coming out on top when those polled were asked to opine on the potential candidates’ respect for the rights of women. He also prevailed in all other categories including honesty and knowledge of the municipality in which the poll respondents lived.

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Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

Things That Matter

Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

PEDRO PARDO/AFP via Getty Images

Mexico City is the oldest surviving capital city in all of the Americas. It also is one of only two that actually served as capitals of their Indigenous communities – the other being Quito, Ecuador. But much of that incredible history is washed over in history books, tourism advertisements, and the everyday hustle and bustle of a city of 21 million people.

Recently, city residents voted on a non-binding resolution that could see the city’s name changed back to it’s pre-Hispanic origin to help shine a light on its rich Indigenous history.

Mexico City could soon be renamed in honor of its pre-Hispanic identity.

A recent poll shows that 54% of chilangos (as residents of Mexico City are called) are in favor of changing the city’s official name from Ciudad de México to México-Tenochtitlán. In contrast, 42% of respondents said they didn’t support a name change while 4% said they they didn’t know.

Conducted earlier this month as Mexico City gears up to mark the 500th anniversary of the fall of the Aztec empire capital with a series of cultural events, the poll also asked respondents if they identified more as Mexicas, as Aztec people were also known, Spanish or mestizo (mixed indigenous and Spanish blood).

Mestizo was the most popular response, with 55% of respondents saying they identified as such while 37% saw themselves more as Mexicas. Only 4% identified as Spaniards and the same percentage said they didn’t know with whom they identified most.

The poll also touched on the city’s history.

The ancient city of Tenochtitlán.

The same poll also asked people if they thought that the 500th anniversary of the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlán by Spanish conquistadoresshould be commemorated or forgotten, 80% chose the former option while just 16% opted for the latter.

Three-quarters of respondents said they preferred areas of the the capital where colonial-era architecture predominates, such as the historic center, while 24% said that they favored zones with modern architecture.

There are also numerous examples of pre-Hispanic architecture in Mexico City including the Templo Mayor, Tlatelolco and Cuicuilco archaeological sites.

Tenochtitlán was one of the world’s most advanced cities when the Spanish arrived.

Tenochtitlán, which means “place where prickly pears abound” in Náhuatl, was founded by the Mexica people in 1325 on an island located on Lake Texcoco. The legend goes that they decided to build a city on the island because they saw the omen they were seeking: an eagle devouring a snake while perched on a nopal.

At its peak, it was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas. It subsequently became a cabecera of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Today, the ruins of Tenochtitlán are in the historic center of the Mexican capital. The World Heritage Site of Xochimilco contains what remains of the geography (water, boats, floating gardens) of the Mexica capital.

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