President López Obrador is facing severe backlash after using a colloquial phrase to silence criticism of his defense of a ruling party candidate for governor who is accused of rape.
The president has defended former senator Félix Salgado Macedonio’s right to contest the June 6 election for governor of Guerrero even though he is under investigation for allegedly raping a teenage girl in 1998 and a woman in 2016, claiming that the accusations are politically motivated and a product of the electoral season.
Clearly annoyed with being asked about his support for Salgado at his press conference on Thursday – and already facing widespread criticism for not dumping the candidate – López Obrador used the phrase ¡Ya chole!, or enough already!, to try to shut down the line of questioning.
“I’m not trying to downplay the importance of the [sexual assault] complaint [but] you always have to ask who’s making it? … What’s behind it? … I exist because I doubt. So, enough [questions about the issue], as some people say, ya chole!” he said.
His remark triggered a flood of condemnation, with thousands of Mexicans, including numerous politicians, taking to social media to make it clear to the president that there are things they are fed up with too.
Male chauvinism, the patriarchy, violence, kidnappings, medicine shortages, impunity, the ruling Morena party, the defense of criminals, the president’s morning press conferences, the federal government and López Obrador himself, among many other things, all got the ya chole treatment online.
“#YaChole with 10 femicides a day, #YaChole with six of 10 women suffering violence, #YaChole with impunity, #YaChole with the misogyny from the National Palace,” Xóchitl Gálvez, a National Action Party (PAN) senator, wrote on Facebook.
“Ya Chole of macho accomplices of rapists, ya chole of violence towards women, ya chole of impunity, ya chole of incompetent authorities that don’t put a stop to femicides,” Martha Tagle, a deputy with the Citizens Movement party, said on Twitter.
Ricardo Anaya, a former PAN lawmaker and candidate in the 2018 presidential election, also took to Twitter to offer a ya chole to the president’s use of the term.
“Ya chole with Salgado Macedonio? That’s the president’s message to victims? That’s precisely the root of the problem: those who, like AMLO, minimize [the actions of] and cover up for abusers instead of listening to and supporting victims, investigating thoroughly and acting firmly,” said Anaya, who appears to be positioning himself for another run at the presidency in 2024.
Some social media users, including Democratic Revolution Party Deputy Verónica Juárez, used the hashtag #NingúnVioladorSeráGobernador (No Rapist Will be Governor) in conjunction with #YaChole to denounce Salgado and the president’s support of him.
Women who protested against Salgado’s candidacy in Chilapancingo, the capital of Guerrero, on Thursday also pledged that they will not allow an (alleged) rapist to become the governor of their state.
The phrase ya chole has been part of colloquial Mexican Spanish for years but its usage increased after it was used by the previous federal government in a television commercial that defended its 2013-2014 structural reforms.