29 Jan 2017

Julie Hill - a Kiwi south of the border

From Sunday Morning, 7:43 am on 29 January 2017

Donald Trump has made it clear that he plans to deliver on his promise to build a wall between the United States and Mexico – even if he hasn’t figured out how he’s going to force Mexicans to pay for it yet.

New Zealand writer and journalist Julie Hill is currently living in the town of San Miguel de Allende, about three hours above Mexico City.

She tells Wallace Chapman many Mexican people have more immediate concerns than Trump’s election and plans.

Anti-Trump protest in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Anti-Trump protest in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico Photo: Julie Hill

The Women’s March against Trump’s inauguration in San Miguel de Allende, like others held in Mexico, was largely attended by gringos (North American visitors or residents), Hill says.

Homemade signs at the march in San Miguel de Allende included ‘All walls fall, so will Humpty Trumpty, ‘If you build a wall, my generation will knock it down’ and ‘Can’t build wall, hands too small’.

The low local turnout at the marches may be because Mexicans see Trump’s election as an American problem, while they have bigger concerns closer to home, Hill says.

On the day of the anti-Trump march in San Miguel de Allende another public protest was held across town, this one against the police over their alleged shooting of three children.

The sorry state of women’s rights in Mexico might also have deterred women from marching, Hill says. Half of Mexican women say they have been victims of violence.

“I’m not sure if in this country women feel sufficiently safe or emboldened to get out on the street and march for their rights.”

What Mexico is protesting as a country right now is increased gas prices.

On 1 January this year, the price was hiked by 20 percent, and in the weeks since there have been demonstrations, sit-ins, roadblocks, arrests, lootings and deaths around the country.

The price rise is a catastrophe for a lot of Mexican people, Hill says.

“It’s going to push up the price of everything else – goods and services, public transport, you name it.”