MEXICO CITY (CNN) — Under a piercing sun and the watchful gaze of the Angel of Independence monument, protesters in Mexico City chanted, “Love, not hate, makes America great.”
Organized by a coalition of women’s groups in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington, US and Mexican citizens came together to form a human wall along the capital’s central thoroughfare, Paseo de la Reforma, shutting the city’s main artery for around an hour and tapping into the tradition of Mexican independence and civil protest.
The demonstration spilled out from the sidewalk in front of the US embassy, where protesters stood behind tall metal barricades several dozen feet away from the building, listening to songs of social change like Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Stand Up” and John Lennon’s “Imagine.” The demonstrators held signs with anti-Trump messages including, “We won’t let Trump’s wrongs deny our rights,” and “Abort unwanted presidencies.” The event had a festival-like, family and dog-friendly atmosphere, with minimal police presence.
Christopher Perri, a resident of Mexico City who moved from Philadelphia, struggled to find the words to describe what it feels like to be a US citizen in Mexico now that President Donald Trump has taken office.
“It’s a little strange to have this kind of shame and lack of pride for what direction the United States is heading,” Perri said.
Nearby, Maggie Loredo held a sign that read, “I’m a Mexican woman raised undocumented in the US.” Loredo was raised in Georgia and Texas and decided to return to Mexico. With tears in her eyes, she called both countries home.
“It’s tough. It’s tough. It’s painful right now,” Loredo said. “They don’t understand that hate, that racism is not the solution.”
Notably absent from the demonstration were banners from Mexican political parties or organizations — in contrast to the much smaller anti-Trump protest, which took place in the same area the day before.
The office of Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto tweeted Saturday afternoon about a phone conversation he had with Trump earlier in the day. According to his office, the Mexican president expressed a desire to work together on a mutually beneficial agenda with a focus on respect for the sovereignty of both nations.
Trump has declared his love for Mexicans and a desire for friendship in recent weeks, yet continues to call for a new and stronger wall along the US-Mexico border-paid by Mexico. The Mexican government has repeatedly indicated it will not pay for the wall. The debate over the wall’s payment, as well as Trump’s mass deportation proposals, threats to eliminate the NAFTA deal, and his past comments describing some Mexicans as “rapists” and criminals have left many Mexicans fearful of the future.
In a video posted on Twitter, right-leaning Mexican Senator Juan Carlos Romero Hicks sent a message to Trump and US citizens.
“We are going to be neighbors together forever. Why not build together a great North American community?” he said.
A high-level Mexican government delegation, including the country’s new foreign minister, is expected to travel to Washington next week to meet with top officials from the Trump administration.