I can’t very well blog about travel to Mexico without documenting one of Mexico’s less sun-shiney characteristics. Political protests and street marches are not an uncommon site in Mexico City these days. In fact, there’s a stream of protesters marching down Reforma outside of the Starbucks I’m sitting in now, preventing cars from passing through. The Mexican citizens aren’t happy with their government — more specifically, their president — and they’re speaking up. Though the protests are common and peaceful lately, they do make us feel a little uneasy, so we do our best to avoid them.
When we first saw the barricades a half block down from our apartment building, it was a Thursday, which seemed to be the choice day for a few weekly marches we’ve seen here. At least twice now we’ve witnessed protesters entering the area by the busload (executive tour buses were literally parked back to back on the block around the Secretaría de Gobernación building). And the Federales (the national police) are here, too. You can see one of their trucks parked on the left side of this week’s photo. There are always quite a few police men and women around (we see more of them than regular citizens on our frequent walk between the apartment and Starbucks), but there are a LOT more on the protest days. Though the Federales did come prepared on the day of a particularly large protest with classic clear plastic shields, we’ve yet to see one in use; they sat idly on the ground by the barrier that day.
The photo here was not taken on a Thursday, but there was still protest activity happening in the area. We’d nearly had to alter our route home as a similar barrier that stretched the full width of the street had been set up one block over (it’s been there the whole time we’ve been in Mexico). A large tented structure was (and still is) set up in the street, and as we passed we could hear slightly muffled mic-amplified voices inside. The doorway for the sidewalk that passed through that barrier was closed, but as we approached the policeman let us through.
Note: I wrote this post two weeks before publishing it, but I held off on publishing ’til we were back in the U.S. As a visitor, you’re not supposed to engage in any sort of political activity in the country, and while that probably applies more to physical political activity, I didn’t want to test it. It could wait. I’ve edited the post’s date to place the photo where it belongs chronologically — when I wrote it (April 9, 2015).
Don’t get me wrong — our time in Mexico was pretty awesome. I just wanted to give an accurate picture of what it’s like to be here on a day-to-day basis. I PROMISE my next post will be more lighthearted and happy. — all my other posts on Mexico are!
Want to see more? View our previous shot of the week posts here.
For those interested in reading more about the political protests in Mexico and some of the events that brought it to its current situation, here is the most comprehensive introductory article I’ve found on the subject:
- The Telegraph, November 1, 2014: Iguala one month on: Can Mexico end its wave of violence?
And here are a few other relevant articles to read (most recent first):
- Hyperallergic, April 6, 2015: In Mexico City, Graffiti Remembers the Disappeared
- Huffington Post, March 28, 2015: Six Months After Student Massacre in Mexico, Global Outrage Fades, But Political Crisis Intensifies
- International Business Times, December 2, 2014: At Mexico City March, Thousands Of Protesters Call For President Peña Nieto’s Ouster
- The Nation, November 17, 2014: This Mass Grave Isn’t the Mass Grave You Have Been Looking For
- Words Without Borders, November 13, 2014: Ayotzinapa (Elena Poniatowska’s speech October 26, 2014)
This post was handcrafted just for you during our travels in Mexico.