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Mar 9, 20

Riots Break Out as Thousands Take to the Streets Against Femicide in Mexico City on International Women’s Day

On March 8th, hundreds of thousands of women took to the streets of Mexico to mark International Women’s Day amidst a growing wave of feminist revolt throughout the country against femicides and sexual violence.

In Mexico City, more than 80,000 people—the overwhelming majority women—marched from the Monument to the Revolution to the Zócalo (central plaza), with anarchists and other militants defacing and destroying symbols of state and corporate power in route. The national lottery building, the Prisma Tower, the offices of Social Security and Services for State Workers, the offices of the Bank of Mexico, the sculpture of El Caballito, the Hilton Hotel, the entrance to the Monument to the Revolution, among other buildings and infrastructure were vandalized with graffiti and broken windows. The statue of Francisco I. Madero—a reformist historical figure from the Mexican revolution criticized extensively by Magonista forces for coopting the revolutionary movement and taking state power—was beat with hammers and painted with pink, red and purple graffiti.

In the Zócalo (central plaza), a governmental vehicle was smashed up, along with a Mexico City fire truck. A small bus was overturned and graffitied, and molotovs and red paint were hurled at the doors of the National Palace. A bonfire was lit with material from a government sponsored “feminist” concert that took place the night before, while women danced around the fire with joy and rage. The black flag was raised on the flag pole in the Zócalo where the massive Mexican flag is usually seen waving in the wind.

The march didn’t take place without contradictions and complexities. Some more liberal minded participants scolded the militant tactics, denouncing property destruction and at moments even putting themselves between protestors and national monuments to protect the infrastructure. Hard-line Catholics and neo-fascists gathered in front of the central cathedral in the Zócalo to denounce abortion with signs that read things like, “The first femicide is abortion.” Other opportunistic organizations were present, seeking to take advantage of the women’s rage, while reinforcing the necessity of the State and its legalities.

The following day, March 9th, a women’s strike “a day without women” was convoked in Mexico. Women skipped school, work and other activities to protest gender violence and make clear that Mexican society would not function without the participation and labor of women. The streets, buses, classrooms, office buildings, etc. were unusually quiet in a city of more than 20 million people.

In recent weeks, different political parties, banks, corporations and governmental institutions have tried to capitalize off the growing women’s dissent, releasing empty statements in support of some of the women’s demands, and expressing their “approval” of the marches and strikes. In days prior to the women’s strike on March 9th, different banks and corporations announced they would allow women workers to skip the work day, acting as if banks and corporations can somehow be in favor of women’s liberation. Meanwhile, the current governmental administration has half-halfheartedly welcomed the marches within their discourse of free expression expression and democratic debate, while on the other hand denouncing the “hooded” protesters as right wing provocateurs, seeking to smear their image.

Amidst the variety of forces seeking to exploit the outrage expressed by women, one thing remains clear: the discourse from capitalist and State forces, left, right and center, has been grounded in the demand for peaceful protest and nonviolence. Protests are permitted, as long as they abide by the rule of law, walk in a straight line, and reinforce the power and structure of the State through their demands. Time will tell what comes of the growing wave of women’s protests in Mexico. However, it seems the courageous acts carried out by feminists, anarchists, and other militants, in direct confrontation with the demands for peaceful protests, non-violence and dialogue with the State, are producing the most fear amongst the ranks of the Mexican femicidal State and society.

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