The anti-feminism of Mexican President López Obrador

AMLO as President of the Mexican Republic on December 1, 2018. Photo credit: Presidency of Mexico via Wikimedia Commons. Public domain.

Check out Global Voices’ special coverage of how women fight gender violence in Latin America.

During the month of January 2020, ten women were killed every day in Mexico, according to government data. These numbers, however, seem to be insufficiently convincing for Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and his government, who have not only minimized the violence women face but have repeatedly communicated messages that do not seem supportive of women.

On February 10, 2020, during AMLO's daily press conference, journalists questioned Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero about his proposal to classify femicide as aggravated homicide. Such a move, according to activists, would minimize the problem of femicide. President López Obrador then said:

I don't want the topic to only be about femicide. Yes it's important, but I can already see how this will be the highlight of the news.

The topic of femicide would overshadow the raffling off of the presidential plane, he continued, which he had promised to do during his campaign to demonstrate his commitment to fighting against corruption. The now-infamous plane raffle has taken center stage at several press conferences.

Despite the pertinent questions journalists pose about the way the government is dealing with femicides—as well as with security in general, the economy and sustainability—the president keeps on talking about the raffle, which has led some analysts to label the raffle a piece of political theater.

Yet, women continue to be killed in Mexico. Since López Obrador took power in December 2018, more than 1,000 women have been officially recognized as victims of femicide. The toll of murdered women whose deaths have not been categorized as femicide is likely to be much higher.

In 2020, some of Mexico's femicides have become emblematic around the globe. On February 9, Ingrid Escamilla, a 25-year-old woman was allegedly killed by her partner, who attempted to flush her organs down the toilet. The leaked images of her mutilated body were displayed on the front page of a prominent national newspaper, La Prensa. A few days later, the body of Fátima Cecilia, a 7-year-old girl, was found dead in a trash can. She had been sexually abused before being killed.

On February 17, President Obrador blamed neoliberalism's effects on society for Fatima's fate, and on February 20 he reinforced that what Mexico needs is a “moral constitution“. In this latter press conference, he said:

Feminists oppose the moralization that we propose, I respect your point of view but I do not share it, I believe that we must moralize the country, that we must purify public life, we must strengthen moral, cultural, and spiritual values. (…) It's not because you came to protest that I will renounce my beliefs.

After the cases of Ingrid, Fátima, and others were made public, hundreds of women took to the streets to protest against the prevalence of femicide. Some of the demonstrators tagged walls with messages of support for the victims and demands from the government. They also splashed red paint on the doors of the National Palace, the seat of the executive power in Mexico, to symbolize the blood of the victims.

In a press conference on February 17, the president responded, saying:

I ask feminists, with all due respect, please don't paint doors and walls, because we are working so there aren't femicides.

This response generated even more anger not only from feminists, but the population in general. Since the government has not yet officially communicated what actions it will take to guarantee security for women, several feminist groups called for a strike of women's labor on March 9, 2020.


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¡MEXICANAS AL GRITO DE GUERRA! Ya no van a tener el privilegio de nuestro silencio. ¡AQUÍ ESTAMOS! #25n

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Several companies and organizations expressed solidarity with the women who were planning to strike and with women employees who could therefore take time off from work without facing consequences.

The president's response, however, was characteristically tone-deaf: it was reported that the raffling off of the presidential plane would take place on March 9, the same day as the women's labor strike.

On March 4, during another press conference, López Obrador said that “he did not realize” and that it was “not on his mind” that the day he chose coincided with the strike, and proceeded to changed the date of the raffle. But in the same conference, he made another declaration that raised the feminists’ ire: that men could also join the strike.

Yet it's not only him. Other political figures, including some women, have made statements that not only highlight their lack of support for women, but also exemplify the disregard with which these issues are treated in Mexico.

For example, Eréndira Sandoval, the secretary of Public Services, tweeted that “fakeminists” were furious about the government's “concrete anti-corruption results.” She also tweeted that men should strike on March 9 instead of women, because women “would be tempted to wash dishes” if left at home.

Yeidckol Polevnsky, the secretary general of Morena, the president's political party, declared that “feminists should be more creative in their way of protesting” and “use art” instead of showing anger.

These sarcastic statements — especially coming from women — show how unprepared AMLO's team is in terms of gender perspective. Although both the Morena party and the president have declared themselves feminists and have constantly asserted that they support women, the unfeminist messages of López Obredor and his team are not only alarming but deeply worrying, considering that the party claims to represent the “hope of Mexico”.

When is the president going to finally answer women's demands on behalf of the victims of femicide and other minorities?

To get answers, we'll probably have to wait until the presidential plane is finally raffled off.


  • Carlos

    Excuse my english.

    You are being dishonest.
    You can see for yourself what General Attorney Gertz Manero have said, you are slicing just a paragraph:

    Then with the mexican female senators

    He never propose remove femicide that, you will never find a video or audio.

    President was not talking about the raffle, he was talking about the results of the anti corruption plan, that had recovered 5000000000 pesos (212996500 euros) in a single strike. You can see that here, holding a check for 85154800 euros. But that was at the same time as the mass media campaing against Gertz Manero thats why media said that was trying to minimize violence against women.

    President has a daily press conference and the journalist are the ones asking about the raffle every day, he just answer.

    What mexican president said is that mass media is is trying to use femicide as a way to talk agains his goverment, and it is working. He said that the first problem to deal with is goverment corruption and poverty. you can see that here:

    And here talking about a prostitution cartel that used mexican woman as sexual slaves even in some european countries. And another case about sexual abuse in a church:

    Previous goverment of Peña Nieto spent 60,000,000,000 pesos(2,554,644,000 euros) in advertising in just a bunch of media companies and journalist. you can see that here:
    and here:
    Thats why there is a disinformation campaing from the journalist that were receiving money.

    The media, catholic church and far right businessmen are supporting the feminist movement in México at the same time they are against abortion, pay the same for the same job, and they are promoting a misoginist society with their tv shows. you can see that last here:

    These are the first 15 months of a left goverment ever in México, Mexico has been ruled for 90 years by 2 parties, PRI(centre right), and PAN(far right), last one provoking the war against cartels, and spending 675,750,402 USD in airplanes, thats why president is trying to sell a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner and another 21 airplanes (spending 14,000 USD in alcohol inside the plane). There is no such thing as a preference for the airplane over femicides, that conflict is created by media, just check your references.

    I have to agree with you that mexico’s goverment is not well prepared in gender perspective, almost nobody in mexico is. But this kind of social movments could not be possible in previous goverments, when you had to face police brutality. This goverment disolved anti disturbs police.

    Current president promoted a law to revoke presidential mandate at the middle of his goverment, so, you dont have to go everywhere telling lies, just wait to middle term election to go back to the goverment you liked. You are hitting the more straight nail.

    I’m sorry and afraid for the femicides, thats why I vote for a change, and I think and believe that we have to change the reality of the poorest towns, that are
    soldier recruitment places for cartel with USA weapons, to start building a new country, we have 14 years in a war against cartels and this is only growing, it is time to focus in social side. Most of México is not what you see in the TV or tourist youtune channels. there are 52,400,000 poors and president amlo is the only one seeing that reality.

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