An angry group of protesters and congressmen in Mexico City yesterday knocked down segments of a giant metal barricade that has been placed around Mexico's congressional building.
The nine-foot tall portable barricade (see video below) is part of an extensive security perimeter that was created around Mexico's Congress last weekend in preparation for Enrique Peña Nieto's presidential inauguration ceremony this Saturday.
Mexico's presidential guard is using the barricade to control traffic in the area and limit the number of people who get near the congressional building. But the extensive structure has also fenced in hundreds of local businesses and homes, preventing local shops from bringing goods into the area, and forcing residents to go through tedious checkpoints to get to their homes.
"We call on whoever is responsible for this wall to take down this corral that has been placed around the congressional palace," said Congressman Julio César Moreno, a member of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) who led Tuesday's protest. "You can't deny thousands of citizens the ability to freely circulate."
However, politicians from Peña Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and from the governing National Action Party (PAN) support the barricade, and have described it as a necessary security measure given the strong wave of protests expected to take place this Saturday.
"I don't justify its existence," said Federico Doring, the PAN's leader in the Mexico City Council. "But I perfectly understand that president (elect) Peña Nieto wants to take some precautionary measures so that he doesn't have to go through the same things that happened to President Calderón."
Back in 2006, fist fights broke out in Mexico's Congress as legislators from the leftist PRD party attempted to stop Calderón's allies from entering the amphitheater where he was set to take oath.
Outside, a large number of protesters who claimed that the 2006 elections had been fraudulent blocked Calderón from entering the congressional building through its main entrance, forcing the incoming president to enter the building through a lesser known back door that was heavily protected by police.
This time around, protests against Peña Nieto's inauguration have been announced by left-wing movements and independent groups who have not accepted the election results. Those groups claim that Peña Nieto won the election thanks to massive vote-buying schemes.
PAN politician Federico Döring said that if Mexico were a "civilized" country, where losing candidates accept defeat, the barricade currently built around Congress would not be necessary.
But Mexico City Major Marcelo Ebrard, who hails from the leftist PRD party, wrote on his Twitter account that the barricade was an "offensive" action against his city.
"This is a very bad sign about what this new [Peña Nieto] government will be like," Ebrard told reporters on Monday. "I've never seen such big security deployments, what are they afraid of?"