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Mexico: Remembering the Women of Ciudad Juárez

This post is part of our special coverage Mexico's Drug War.

Ciudad Juárez is considered the most violent city in Mexico with more than 3,100 murders recorded in 2010, with an average of 9 homicides per day. Women are not immune to this violence, and cases of femicides committed years ago are still unresolved.

Banner from 'Not One More' anti-femicide campaign, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Image by Flickr user jrsnchzhrs (CC BY-ND 2.0).

Banner from 'Not One More' anti-femicide campaign, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Image by Flickr user jrsnchzhrs (CC BY-ND 2.0).

Blogger “Fuerzas Colosales” describes the current situation [es] in Ciudad Juárez:

Ciudad Juárez es una ciudad fronteriza, bien al norte de México, que limita con El Paso, Texas. Es un enclave estratégico para el tráfico de drogas y humanos y, como tal, ha sufrido una escalada de violencia sin parangón que hoy por hoy tiene a la población entera completamente aterrorizada. Estamos, sin duda alguna, ante un caso de emergencia humanitaria.

Ciudad Juarez is a border town, in the far north of Mexico, which borders El Paso, Texas. It is a strategic location for drug and human trafficking and, as such, has suffered an escalation of violence unequaled today, that has completely terrified the entire population. We are, without doubt, facing a humanitarian emergency.

Journalist Judith Torrea has been writing from Mexico's border with the US for more than a decade. She focuses on violence directed at women and on drug trafficking. In her blog Ciudad Juárez, en la sombra del narcotráfico (Ciudad Juárez, in the shadow of drug trafficking) she writes about feminicides in the city [es]:

Cada inicio del año -desde que la ciudad se vistió de cruces rosas en protesta por las muertes y desapariciones de mujeres denunciadas en una lista, desde 1993, por la pionera activista contra el feminicidio Esther Chávez Cano, ya fallecida- regresan a esta cruz.

Y en papelitos escriben los nombres de las mujeres que los atan a los enormes clavos que surgen de la cruz Ni una más: el lema que, al parecer, la poeta Susana Chávez, de 36 años, creó y alzó hasta que la asesinaron el miércoles, cortándole la mano, según la Red Mesa de Mujeres. Asesinada a pesar de que la Fiscalía General del Estado no ha revelado su nombre y muchos hoy desconocen que ha sido asesinada.

During each start of a new year –since the city was draped in pink crosses in protest for the deaths and disappearances of women reported in a list, since 1993, by the pioneering activist against femicides Esther Chavez Cano, now deceased– they return to this cross [shown in photos in the post].

And on pieces of paper they write the names of women that they tie to the huge nails that arise from the cross Not one more: the motto, apparently, the poet Susana Chavez, 36, created and raised until she was murdered on Wednesday, cutting off her hand, according to Red Mesa de Mujeres. She was killed even if the Attorney General's Office has not revealed her name and many today don't know she has been murdered.

In Women and Foreign Policy, Cordelia Rizzo wrote about two particular cases:

Marisela Escobedo, who was fighting for the persecution of her daughter’s murderer, was chased and gunned down at plain sight in front of the governor’s office, where she was leading a protest. Less than a month later, Susana Chávez, a poet who coined the phrase “Ni una más (Not one more death)”, was tortured, killed and left in the street with her hand severed.

Later, Rizzo reflects on Chavez's and Escobedo's stories of courage:

These women acted courageously despite being abandoned by the state. They have become symbols both of the responsibilities of citizenship and of the perils of standing up to power. They were in touch with the most pressing problems Mexico because they were directly affected by the lack of progress in transforming general attitudes towards women and the state’s ongoing forgetfulness of the working class. Both spoke about it as loudly and openly as they could.

Finally, she talks about the future of activism led by women in Mexico:

After these murders, female protesters now cover their faces, both to protect themselves and to represent the humiliation that the victims, their daughters and friends, have endured. The future of activism in Mexico is grim: A few days ago, the house of Malú García Andrade, who leads NGO Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa, was burned down while she was protesting.

Several activities will take place [es] to celebrate International Women's Day in Mexico, including the inauguration of the first museum dedicated to women in the country [es].

This post is part of our special coverage Mexico's Drug War.

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