MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The names of women victimized by violence were painted late on Saturday on metal barriers erected around Mexico's national palace ahead of a major women's march as activists turned the fencing into a makeshift billboard for their movement.
Near the front of the colonial-era building that serves as both the president's offices and his residence, activists wrote: "Victims of Femicide" in huge letters across the top of the 10-foot-tall (3-m) barriers, with the names of many women scrawled underneath.
Last year, at least 939 women were victims of femicide, the term used for homicides that deliberately target women, according to government data.
"It's absolutely fundamental that they're written down because our struggle is for them," said activist Marcela, who declined to provide her surname, as she stood in front of the barrier.
"We women want to ask for justice and that people understand, and that the president, who lives here, knows that we're fighting because they are killing us," she added.
A day earlier, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador described the barriers, erected on Friday, as a needed tool to avoid provocation and protect the historic building from vandalism ahead of Monday's planned march on International Women's Day.
On Sunday, the leftist leader insisted that he had always believed in equality in a video he posted on social media, in which he also lashed out at those he derided as conservative critics who aim to attack his government.
"I'm not a male chauvinist. I'm in favor of the rights of women," he said, pledging never to repress the free assembly of protesters.
Similar metallic barriers were erected around the nearby orange-domed Fine Arts Palace, including its towering bronze sculptures, as city officials announced plans to deploy police downtown to protect marchers as well as the monuments, including some 2,000 female police officers.
(Reporting by David Alire Garcia and Roberto Ramirez; Editing by Peter Cooney)