A day after Mexico’s women collectively shut down the country in an eruption of fury over gender violence, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has insisted that he will not try a new strategy to stop femicides.
Thousands of women went on strike on Monday, in a historic protest against the murder of women and girls – and the failure of successive governments’ efforts to stop a crisis in which around 10 women are murdered every day.
But asked on Tuesday if he would consider a new approach to the problem, López Obrador replied: “No – on the contrary, we are going to reinforce the same strategy of looking at the causes of violence.”
The comments echoed the president’s previous response to Mexico’s spiraling drug war violence, which he has insisted can be reined in with an ill-defined policy of “moral renewal”.
López Obrador, known as Amlo went on to list a litany of possible solutions, including “finding ways to live in a better society … [making sure] that there is no unemployment, that there are good salaries, that family disintegration is avoided, that there are proper salaries, that values are strengthened.”
He did not use the word “femicide” or mention any gender issues or specific security concerns for women.
He did, however, cast himself as the victim of a conspiracy as he accused “conservatives” of “putting on the mask of feminism and saying, ‘we’re going to get rid of the government.’”
A string of especially gruesome murders have injected new urgency into Mexican women’s calls for action on femicides.
But Amlo has repeatedly voiced misgivings about the growing women’s protests.
In one press conference, he appeared bothered by a question on femicides – which he said overshadowed his plans to raffle off the presidential aircraft.
One of his cabinet members advised women against striking on the grounds that they might be “tempted to do the dishes” if they stayed at home.
Amlo surged to power on a promise to overturn “neoliberal” policies, but has proved stubbornly unmoved by social issues such as abortion, marriage equality – and women’s rights.
“Amlo sees that these protests are organized by groups other than his – so he just dismisses them,” said Alicia Islas, a doctoral student and public policy instructor at the Autonomous National University of Mexico.