MEXICO CITY – President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is in the middle of a political storm. His party nominated Félix Salgado Macedonio, who has been accused by five women of rape and sexual harassment, as the candidate for governor of the state of Guerrero.
Among the allegations: A woman said that when she was 17, in 1998, she was raped by Mr. Salgado at her home. Another woman said she was drugged, beaten and raped by him in 2016. A third woman accused him of sexual harassment in 2007.
Protests quickly followed. A majority of Mexicans believe that Mr. López Obrador should withdraw his support for Mr. Salgado’s candidacy. Even within the president’s Morena party, more than 100 senators and deputies have called for the nomination to be withdrawn. People who have been loyal to the party have threatened to quit.
Until now, the Morena party, Mexico’s largest, had been unified in its support for its main leader and founder, Mr. López Obrador. Showing unwavering loyalty to the president was one way to gain access to party positions and voter support. Now, the female members of Morena are openly questioning Mr. López Obrador’s leadership. The result may be the party divide, perhaps the most important political development in Mexico in a decade.
Yet Mr. López Obrador does not seem to have noticed the brewing storm. He stands next to Mr. Salgado.
Moreover, although his cabinet has more women than anyone before him, Mr. López Obrador believes that feminism is the wrong battle to wage. He believes the root of poverty and gender inequality in Mexico is the result of a government that for decades has corrupted itself to protect a group of wealthy businessmen. thanks to their proximity to power, and not to the misogyny rooted in the country.
According to her logic, the injustices suffered by women will be resolved when corruption is eradicated. Supporting feminism, he explains, is the Conservative Party’s attempt to create a distraction as it brazenly plunders Mexico.
I am a Mexican woman and I agree with Mr. López Obrador on many points. Like him, I believe the predatory political and economic elites got rich at the expense of the rest of us.
But unlike Mr. López Obrador, I know that even if the wealth is redistributed, the abuses and inequalities suffered by women will remain. Women should not tolerate this lie that the president continues to espouse.
We must not tolerate the candidacy of Mr Salgado either. More than 40 percent of Mexican women have been victims of some form of sexual assault. The sexual harassment we endure will not be solved by a fallout economy, but by punishing the abusers.
Poverty has also increased for women while it has decreased for men: 32 million women are poor – 10 percent more than the number of men. Women in white collar jobs continue to earn less than men.
It is the result of a story forged by greedy men, who exclusively directed the series. The results have been disastrous: their decisions have led us to become a country where inequalities are endemic and poverty has the face of a woman.
Our economy, shaped by men, is full of privileges for them. It relies on the unpaid labor of millions of women who care for children and the elderly so that men can study or do paid work.
My great-grandmother did not go to school to be able to take care of her father. Neither did my grandmother, so that she could take care of her siblings. And my mom went to school until one day she had to take care of me. Women are victims of a government and an economy designed by men to have money and women help them get it.
When Mr. López Obrador was elected president in 2018, he pledged to wage the war against social injustice. Many women, including myself, thought that meant he would fight for us, because if the poor were to come first, as he said in his campaign speeches, then women should come first. of its program.
Since his election, he has not heard our message, showing his insensitivity to the feminist cause and to the most basic demands of women.
We need to change our tactics and stop wasting our energy trying to convince Mr. López Obrador that our fight against sexual violence and for gender equality is legitimate and essential. Many women and left-wing politicians in her Morena party are also wasting precious time in this difficult battle.
We must focus on organizing and promoting the fight against all injustices – not just those which Mr. López Obrador considers relevant. Insisting on the withdrawal of Mr. Salgado’s candidacy is not a question of conservatism or liberalism, right or left. It is a matter of basic human decency. And if the president doesn’t understand that, it’s time to find new leaders.
We need to channel our anger and frustration into a political organization that includes all parties and encourages them to include a strong, reality-based gender agenda. Exposing men who have committed sexual abuse is only part of the goal. The ultimate goal must be to correct the failures of the systems that make our society and the state dependent on the unjust work burden borne by women.
It is not enough to have female leadership to win the battle for women. We must fight for the social, political and economic justice that has been denied to us and we must share it with others.
Only then can we expand the opportunities for all Mexicans.
Viridiana Ríos (@Viri_Rios) is a political analyst. This essay was translated by Erin Goodman from Spanish. A version of it appeared on March 1 on the New York Times Spanish-language site.
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