Tens of thousands of Mexicans took to the streets of some 20 cities throughout the country – including the capital – on Sunday to express their anger at US President Donald Trump and to call on their own president, Enrique Peña Nieto, to show dignity and firmness in confronting what many in the country see as their greatest threat.
Organized by more than 80 organizations, including the country’s main universities, the marches were also supported by many of Mexico’s best-known faces. The only requirement for protesters was that they should not carry banners associated with any political party. The marches were the first major protest in Mexico against Trump and came 92 days and a long list of threats and insults after he won the election.
Marchers demanded “respect” and “dignity” from Trump and his government, with an estimated 20,000 people pouring onto the streets of Mexico City, with students from the capital’s UNAM state university joining in protest for the first time since 1968, when dozens were killed and injured in demonstrations. Among the intellectuals at the march were Enrique Graue, Enrique Krauze, Héctor Aguilar Camín, and Enrique Ochoa, presidents of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has called on Mexicans to show unity
“Initially we thought these were just campaign threats, but what Trump is doing since he won the elections is unacceptable. His racist discourse sums up all that pains and offends us,” said María Elena Morera, the leader of Causa en Común, one of the organizers of the march. “We have recovered from the initial confusion to a moment of unity. We are now mobilized and we’ve woken up,” she added.
The protesters also issued a list of demands they expect President Peña Nieto to meet. They called on him to defend Mexico and Mexicans from the threats of the new Republican administration, as well as to deal with domestic issues such as poverty, inequality, corruption and impunity.”
Many protesters carried placards featuring Trump as Hitler, calling him a “threat to humanity.”
Public opinion in Mexico has been outraged by Trump’s plans to build a wall along the US-Mexican border, as well as his initial success in persuading US companies not to expand their operations in Mexico, which will lead to job losses, while at the same time as threatening to impose high import tariffs on goods made in Mexico by US companies. Ford has already said it will not be building a planned plant in San Luis Potosí.
Trump has also unilaterally imposed renegotiation of the 1994 NAFTA trade deal with Canada and Mexico, while there have been calls within the Republican party for a 2% tax on remittances sent home by Mexicans working in the United States to pay for the wall.
This is the first major demonstration against Trump since he won the election
Mexico is also bracing itself for the arrival of hundreds of thousands of its citizens Trump says he will deport because they lack work and residency permits.
Peña Nieto has called on Mexicans to show unity, but seems to have been overtaken by the scale and momentum of the protests.
Left-leaning Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who is heading up the polls ahead of next year’s presidential elections, spoke at a rally in Los Angeles on Sunday evening, lambasting Trump and his immigration policies.
Denisse Sucilla, who joined the march in Mexico City, said: “The time has come to united Mexican. Trump has served as an excuse to face our internal problems. We have to face the challenge, but without corruption, without bad government and united.”
English version by Nick Lyne.