Oaxaca mural

Oaxaca mural

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Protest in Mexico City

I am sure that there have been larger protest marches in Mexico City, but the demonstration today was the biggest that I have ever seen here or anywhere.  Thousands of Mexicans took to the streets to display their displeasure with:  1.) the government of Mexican President Peña Nieto (his approval rating currently stands around 12%),  2.) the increase in the price of gasoline (yet another "gasolinazo" is scheduled to go into effect on Friday), and 3.) the policies of Trump.  There were a large number of political groups, unions and other organizations represented.

Around 11:00 this morning I walked to the Paseo de la Reforma, the broad boulevard which is the scene of many demonstrations in Mexico City.  It was soon evident that the march would take place here because I saw people standing around with banners and flags.

I continued walking up the boulevard.  Across the street was the United States embassy, and a group had gathered there.  Behind the ugly metal fences which surround the embassy was a small army of policemen.

Several of the banners were directed at Trump.

Trump... The Mexicans say to you... "Ch**** a tu madre!" (a common Mexican expletive).

I continued northward along Reforma.  At the monument to Christopher Columbus there was a group of perhaps a couple hundred who were members of Mexico's Communist Party.  (There were many people from left-leaning organizations who had red flags, but these banners had the yellow hammer and sickle of the communists.)

I cut over to the "Plaza de la República", where the Monument to the Mexican Revolution is located.  Here there was a massive gathering of people.  It stretched several blocks from the Monument back to the Paseo de la Reforma.

One speaker was ripping into Trump.  "Let him build a wall.  Let him build a wall all around the United States so that the world is protected from his imperialism."  Another speaker said, "Out with Peña Nieto.  Let him go to the United States to his friend Trump."

It's not surprising that there were enterprising food vendors selling their wares to the hungry protesters.

The crowd began to move.  They headed back down the boulevard in the direction from which I had come.   They took up one half of the street.  I followed on the other side of the street.

 The march came to a halt at the intersection with Insurgentes Avenue, one of the busiest intersections in the city.  I waited for a while, but they were not moving.  I continued down Reforma, and traffic was running normally on both sides of the boulevard.

Then a couple small groups came from the opposite direction along the sidewalk where I was.  I suppose that they were headed to join the main group.

By this time I was back by the U.S. Embassy again.  The marchers were on the move once again.  I went to stand in the median strip of the boulevard, and from there I had an excellent view.  

"No, to the gasoline increase!"

The memory of the Mexican Revolution hero, Emiliano Zapata, was frequently invoked.  The marchers chanted, "¡Zapata vive, la lucha sigue!" (Zapata lives, the fight continues!")

The words of Zapata:  "If there is no justice for the people, let there be no peace for the government."

I then went farther down Reforma to the Monument to Mexican Independence which stands in the middle of the boulevard.  From the steps of the monument I had a great view.  Even though many of the marchers had already passed by, one side of the boulevard was still filled with protesters for as far as the eye could see.  Up there with me were numerous professional photographers.  Perhaps their photos will appear in tomorrow's newspapers.

The marchers circled the monument and filled Río Tiber Street to the north side.

Then they started filling in the other side of Reforma so that the boulevard was now completely blocked to traffic.

I figured that I should leave before the crowds had filled in every side around the Monument where I stood.  It was not that I was afraid.  The demonstration was completely peaceful.  In fact it was quite exhilarating to be a witness to this protest march.


  1. I love the Zapata quote. ("If there is no justice for the people, let there be no peace for the government.") Great photos too!

    1. Thanks, Meredith. I felt like a journalist photographing and then writing about the march.

  2. There's one Mexican experience you haven't tried; being in jail. Try to avoid that one!

    1. Yes, indeed. That's why I stayed clearly on the sidelines. It's against the law for foreigners to participate in political protests.

  3. I wish Scottish immigrants had been banned from the US before Trump's mother came here.