By James Blears
Activists occupied the National Human Rights Commission offices near Mexico City’s Zocalo Plaza on Thursday of last week. Since then, they have smashed down its sign and replaced it with another saying “Not one more - Mexico Shelter House.” Furniture has been used to make bonfires and a painting of revolutionary hero Francisco Madero has been daubed with paint and defaced. The protesters say they’re going to auction it off.
Call for action
Their leaders are accusing this government and all past administrations of doing virtually nothing to investigate gender crimes against women - particularly abuse and femicide - and they are demanding action. Some thirty victims of abuse have taken refuge on the second floor of the building. The protesters are saying they are now ready to extend their protest nationwide and take over more government buildings. So far officials and police haven’t taken any action against them, although President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has criticized them for vandalizing the portrait of Madero with graffiti.
Challenges to law and order
The protest highlights and challenges Mexico’s weak and chaotic law and order system, often not leading to its fragile and deeply flawed judicial system, in which few Mexicans retain any confidence at all. Last year following assaults on two young women, feminists ran riot in Mexico City doing serious damage to a metro station and the Angel of Independence monument.