Dozens of activists flocked to Mexico’s presidential palace on Friday to protest against violence against women, chanting “not one murder more” and splashing one of its large, ornate doors with blood-red paint and the words “femicide state”.
The heated Valentine’s Day demonstration, led by women, stemmed from outrage in recent days over the killing of 25-year-old Ingrid Escamilla in Mexico City and the publication of graphic photos of her mutilated corpse in newspapers.
One protester spray-painted “INGRID” in tall pink letters on another palace door in tribute. Many participants noted that her death was only the latest example in a wave of femicides – brutal murders of women.
An average of 10 women are killed a day in Mexico and last year marked a new overall homicide record, official data shows.
“It’s not just Ingrid. There are thousands of femicides,” said Lilia Florencio Guerrero, whose daughter was violently killed in 2017. “It fills us with anger and rage.”
She called on President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who was inside the palace as the protests continued, to do more to stop the violence.
Others graffitied slogans including “They are killing us” on the building’s walls and sent bright flames streaming from cans of flammable spray paint.
Inside the palace, where Lopez Obrador lives with his family, the president attempted to reassure the activists during his morning news conference.
“I’m not burying my head in the sand … The government I represent will always take care of ensuring the safety of women,” he said, without detailing new plans.
Protesters also admonished the newspapers that published photos of Escamilla’s corpse, chanting, “the press is complicit”.
La Prensa, a newspaper that ran the gruesome image on its cover, defended its record of reporting on crime and murder, subjects it said the government prefers to keep quiet. The paper also said it was open to discussion on adjusting its standards beyond legal requirements.
“We understand today that it hasn’t been sufficient, and we’ve entered a process of deeper review,” the paper said in a front-page statement on Friday.
Newspaper Pasala had filled nearly its entire tabloid cover with the photo, under the Valentine’s Day-themed headline: “It was cupid’s fault”. The cover sparked anger not only at the gory display, but also the jocular tone over a crime for which Escamilla’s domestic partner has been arrested.
Pasala editors did not respond to requests for comment.