The “Peace Belt” of civilian government employees that was deployed during the Tlatelolco protest march on Wednesday served its purpose and may be deployed again in future marches, according to Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum.
“We’ll probably do it in a more organized fashion, especially when we have information that there are groups that want to generate violence or aggression,” she said.
She added that the city government will develop a protocol to train civil servants who participate.
The Peace Belt, or cinturón de paz, consisted of 12,000 city employees dressed in white t-shirts who lined the route of the march, which commemorates a 1968 massacre of students in Tlatelolco’s Three Cultures Plaza. Although the Peace Belt outnumbered the roughly 10,000 marchers, they were unable to prevent acts of vandalism by some.
However, Mayor Sheinbaum stressed that the measure was a success because it prevented repression of protesters by the police.
“We’re going to do everything we can not to repress social movements, but at the same time, we need to fulfill the law,” she said.
Sheinbaum also noted that the three masked protesters who were arrested and later released during the march are still under investigation.
“Some organizations that work with the Human Rights Commission say that arrests should be avoided, and to prevent confrontation we release people,” she said. “However, there are investigations open and there will be due process.”
Some government employees criticized the Peace Belt measure for placing them in a situation for which they were not trained.
And former president Felipe Calderón suggested López Obrador put himself at the head of the next Peace Belt.
“Mr. President, the next time you wish to use human beings, risking their lives and safety, to do the work that is your responsibility as head of state but do not do, put yourself at the front. Don’t stay behind the human and metal shields,” he wrote on Twitter.
Source: El Universal (sp)