Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Monday (February 17) appeared to blame the murder of a seven-year-old girl on the neoliberal economic model, angering critics who say the government has failed to stem a wave of gender violence.
Lopez Obrador was asked at his regular news conference about the kidnapping and killing of the girl, Fatima Cecilia Aldrighett, who went missing on Feb. 11 and whose body was discovered over the weekend inside a plastic garbage bag in Mexico City’s Tlahuac neighborhood.
In response, the president said he was sure authorities would catch the perpetrators of the crime, but said punishment alone was not the solution.
The bigger challenge, he said, was to purify Mexican society, which he said “has fallen into decline, a progressive degradation that has to do with the neoliberal model.”
Family members and parents gathered in protest on Monday outside Aldrighett’s home and her school, where she was seen leaving accompanied by an adult woman last week. #JuticiaParaFatima, or Justice for Fatima, was tweeted 127,000 times and her name was a top global trend.
Lopez Obrador regularly blames Mexico’s most salient problems, such as corruption, poverty and violence, on the policies implemented during the era of pro-market policies such as economic liberalization starting in the 1980s.
“That’s why we voted for this president, for this president who was going to end corruption. But, what has the president done? Pure blah, blah, blah,” retired teacher Josefina Meza said outside the girl’s school.
In a news conference, the attorney general’s office confirmed Aldrighett’s body had been identified and offered a 2 million peso ($107,000) reward for information leading to those responsible for the murder.
The murder of the girl comes after demonstrators on Friday daubed the words “femicide state” in blood-red on the door of Mexico’s National Palace and demanded justice for 25-year-old Ingrid Escamilla, who was brutally murdered last week.
An average of 10 women a day are killed in Mexico and 2019, the first year of Lopez Obrador’s government, marked a new overall homicide record, official data shows. Victims of femicide increased 10% in 2019 to over 1,000.
The World Health Organization says femicide is generally understood to involve the intentional murder of women because they are women, but broader definitions include any killings of women or girls.
(Production: Josue Gonzalez, Manuel Carrillo)