[Marxism] Protests Against Murders of Women in Juarez Gain Momentum

Tony Abdo gojack10 at hotmail.com
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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