This summer, 15 states in Mexico will elect governors. As my colleague Amalia Pulido has pointed out, these elections could reconfigure power dynamics in the country, especially considering that Morena, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s party, lacks institutionalized selection processes for candidates which in turn can fracture it.
In recent weeks the candidate for Morena for the governorship of Guerrero, Félix Salgado Macedonio, has caught national attention. In early January, feminist groups protested outside Guerrero’s Attorney General’s Office against Salgado’s candidacy on account of rape accusations against him. The women protested by performing the now iconic “Un violador en tu camino” (A Rapist in Your Path) and ever since have been threatened by Salgado’s supporters.
The process that has followed Salgado’s gubernatorial candidacy is a microcosmos of the violences (yes, plural) female victims/survivors encounter in the Mexican criminal justice system. Furthermore, it underscores once again the perceived inaction and lack of urgency by the federal government in limiting lethal and non-lethal violences against women.
On the one hand Salgado has stated “there’s no proof” of the accusations against him and has even called them “fake news”. In contrast, Morena female legislators have signed and addressed a letter to the party’s leadership demanding to side with the victims and deny Salgado’s candidacy. Yet, the male leadership of the party continues to back Salgado. Not only the president of Morena announced he would be the candidate as long as there is no sentence against him because “allegations can be many,” President López Obrador called accusations against Salgado a “media lynching” and has offered his support on the grounds that during election times “there are all sorts of accusations”.
Almost a year ago, on March 9, women in Mexico called for a national strike in order to call attention to the violences we face everyday in private and public spheres. The relevance of March 9, 2020 was not only demanding our right to live, but in uniting feminist groups with women who had previously considered the feminist cause something on the political fringe. Salgado’s candidacy has once again united women (and men) across the ideological spectrum. On February 17, a social media campaign asked the president to “break the [patriarchal] pact” and withdraw his support for Salgado. On February 18, during his daily morning presser, President López Obrador responded to the campaign by saying “ya chole” roughly translated as “‘enough already”.
The comment would be worrying enough in its own. But López Obrador’s support for Salgado and dismissal of the women accusing him occur in the context of high levels of violence and impunity. Every day, 11 women get killed in Mexico. At 96.1 percent, Guerrero has the highest level of unreported crimes (the national average is 92.4 percent). In 2019, Guerrero had a homicide rate of 53 per 100,000 compared to the national average of 29 and well above the Americas average of 17. In Guerrero, 88.5 percent of people consider their state as unsafe.
* Cecilia Farfán Méndez is head of Security Research Programs at the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at the University of California San Diego (UCSD). Twitter: @farfan_cc