Barricades at Mexico’s National Palace ahead of protests

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Authorities have erected tall steel anti-riot barriers around Mexico City’s National Palace ahead of planned protests to mark International Women’s Day on Monday.

The colonial-era palace is located on the city’s vast central plaza, and is where President Andrés Manuel López Obrador lives and works.

López Obrador has been engaged in verbal sparring matches in recent weeks with feminists after his Morena Party nominated a man who has been accused of rape as candidate for the governorship of the southern state of Guerrero.

Candidate Félix Salgado has not been charged because prosecutors claimed the statute of limitations ran out on one of the accusations, while another accusation remains under investigation. His lawyer has denied the accusations. But the Morena party has scheduled a re-run of an internal poll to see whether Salgado should remain as the candidate.

The installation of the barricades late Thursday and early Friday was ironic, given that López Obrador himself once led protests in the same plaza.

Some protesters at women’s rights demonstrations have engaged in violence and vandalism in recent years.

The country’s top security official, Rosa Icela Rodríguez, said in a statement that “in some cases, one can disagree with the radical way they take the streets, but one can never disagree with the importance and urgency of creating a fairer world for 51.2% of the population.”

Rodríguez’s office estimated there will almost 100 women’s marches, in cities and towns throughout Mexico. Her office urged local and state authorities to designate squads of female officers to provide security at the marches.