[Marxism] Protests Against Murders of Women in Juarez Gain Momentum
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Fri Feb 20 18:14:25 MST 2004
March calls for action in Juárez
Officials, celebrities say Mexico must do more to solve women's deaths
Saturday, February 14, 2004
By ALFREDO CORCHADO / The Dallas Morning News
CIUDAD JUÁREZ Hundreds of marchers from both sides of the border took to
the streets of this violence-charred city on Saturday a community once
united by bloodlines, now divided by bloodshed.
Chanting "Justice, Justice, Justice," as many as 2,000 protesters among
them El Pasoans who hadn't crossed the border in years because of fear of
violence met at the international bridge connecting El Paso and Juárez and
marched to a downtown plaza in solidarity for the more than 300 women
murdered here over the last 10 years. The protest drew U.S. elected
officials, top Mexican officials and celebrities led by actresses Jane
Fonda, Sally Field and Christine Lahti.
"I am rich, I am famous, I am white, I have a daughter and a granddaughter
and I know if they were murdered or disappeared, the authorities would work
very hard to find out who killed them or who kidnapped them," said Ms.
Fonda, an actress and ardent activist on social justice issues.
She said she finds it hard to understand what it must be like "to feel as
though I was invisible, as these mothers feel."
And Ms. Field added, "I am here today because 300 young, vibrant women are
not. ...We have to stand up; we have to be heard; we have to shine a light
on injustices." Their anti-violence movement grew out of the
award-winning play The Vagina Monologues, written by Eve Ensler, who later
formed the V-Day Foundation, which, along with Amnesty International,
co-sponsored Saturday's protest.
Since 1998, V-Day, on Valentine's Day, has been a worldwide event held in
turbulent countries, including Croatia and Afghanistan, to raise awareness
of violence against women. Last year, the V-Day Foundation, a nonprofit
corporation, raised more than $14 million. Juárez, Ms. Ensler said,
represents a pilot program, an example of how social activism can end
violence against women. While applauding recent moves by the Vicente Fox
administration, including the naming of a special prosecutor and human
rights commissioner to solve the killings, Ms. Ensler pressed the government
for increased funding to these new offices and urged officials to bring
convictions within a year.
"It could be a real message to the world if we could end violence here; this
could be the victory place," she said.
In Juárez, the official toll is 321 women killed since 1993, but local and
international human rights groups believe the actual number is nearly 400.
Of that number, nearly 100 had bore the hallmarks of serial killings: The
victims were raped, their bodies mutilated, their hands tied, strands of
hair cut. The victims also share another sobering similarity: Most were slim
with brown eyes and long brown hair. Most of the victims were assaulted on
their way home from work. Critics blame authorities for being lax and
negligent in their investigation, fumbling, tampering and losing crucial
evidence, or arresting scapegoats to cover up for the real culprits, who,
they charge, roam the streets with impunity.
"Mexico, Juárez, Chihuahua deserve better than the authorities who are
ruling here. You deserve better," Ms. Fonda said.
More than a dozen arrests have been made, but only one man, an Egyptian
chemist, has been convicted. His conviction is under appeal. Meanwhile, the
slayings have continued. Federal prosecutor Maria Lopez Urbina, who joined
protesters, reiterated that her office will punish the culprits, "whether
they're federal, state, or local authorities. We must and we will bring back
the rule of law to this city, bring back peace to these residents."
For some U.S. residents, especially those from El Paso and Las Cruces, just
crossing into Juárez was in itself a moral victory. Some said they had not
been back in years. Residents on both sides of the border have long,
historic ties. But for many U.S. residents, Juárez today is a city in chaos.
"The violence has robbed us of our mutual respect, dignity and compassion.
It has certainly divided us," said Victor Munoz, a native of Chihuahua and
co-coordinator of the El Paso-based Coalition Against Violence Toward Family
and Women on the Border. "Today we are taking what is ours, our historic
ties. We are taking back our city."
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