Anne Marie Mackler, FNS Editor
As of April 11, fourteen homicides took the lives of women on the border, 11 in Cd. Juárez and four in El Paso. Five of these crimes took place in the last month.
Of the total for this year, four murders involved rape, torture and abandoned bodies, five of these crimes were domestic murder/suicides with the spouse or lover killing himself after killing the woman, four of these crimes were domestic crimes, one of these crimes appeared to be related to drug-trafficking, and one a murder/ATM robbery. There are suspects only in the domestic murders.
On April 2 the strangled and raped body of Amparo Guzmán Caixba, 17, was found in Cerro Bollo, outside Cd. Juárez. The young woman worked for Elamex, a maquila located in the Fernández Industrial Park and lived with her cousin in a colonia near where her body was found. This area is where victims of two alleged women-killing gangs have left bodies: Los Choferes and Los Pelones.
Caixba quit school in January and moved from Veracruz to the border with hopes of eventually crossing into the U.S. She was supposed to meet some friends on March 31, but never showed up. Although Caixba was not murdered on her way to or from work, Elamex paid for relatives’ travel to and from Cd. Juárez to pick up Caixba’s remains and for the funeral planned in Veracruz.
The Juárez Program Against Crime, compared by El Norte to the U.S. “Crime Stoppers,” has announced a $10,000 reward for information that leads to the apprehension of Caixba’s killer.
To many, including both Esther Chávez Cano and Guillermina González Flores, leading spokespersons for the citizens’ fight against violence, the murder of Guzman proves that the series of murders of women and girls in Cd. Juárez is not over. Both of these activists have also been quoted in local press blaming the government. “Instead of arguing over whose responsible for the violence in the city and the murders of women and girls, the government needs to coordinate a prevention program and catch the criminals,” González said.
On April 8 Joel López Garcia, in a drunken rage, beat up his wife, Luisa Barraza Camacho, 33, and killed her grandmother, María de los Angeles Alvarado Soto, 65. He attempted burning down the house with the victims in it but his sons stopped him. Garcia is awaiting sentencing.
On April 9, two El Paso women Arlene Shaloni Prince, 20 and Marla Durán, 21, murdered their friend Latina Tashá Holmes, 21, by strangling her in her apartment in El Paso, Texas. El Paso police did not yet announce a motive, however, an El Paso Times report on April 13 indicated they believe the murder may have been planned. The three women had worked together as dancers at the Red Parrot club in El Paso, although at the time of her death Holmes was working at a different night club, Prince Machiavelli Lounge.
On April 16, Armando Herrera, 44, murdered his wife Irene Beltran Garcia, 46 and their daughter Sonye Herrera, 15 in front of Garcia’s home in El Paso. The family had a history of domestic violence, and Armando Herrera’s trial for child abuse was scheduled for this May.
Abdel Latif Sharif Sharif
On March 31, 2000 Judge Mauro Carrasco García reversed a 30-year sentence, due to a lack of evidence, that Sharif Abdel Latif Sharif was serving in the murder of Elizabeth Castro Garcia, 17, found dead in August of 1995 in Cd. Juárez . Sharif believes that DNA tests will prove his innocence in the charges against him for murdering Castro.
But on April 7 of this year it was announced that the Chihuahua attorney general’s office would be filing charges against Sharif for an additional seven murders.
Suly Ponce Prieto, Chihuahua state special investigator for the murders of women, announced that Sharif will be charged for his presumed responsibility in the murders committed by the gang “Los Choferes,” who have been accused of the homicides of seven women that occurred from 1998-99 and the attempted murder of “Nancy,” in March 1999. Sharif allegedly paid this group of bus drivers to murder women with the intent of weakening the murder charges he was facing.
Max Salazar, Sharif’s attorney, believes that Sharif is a scapegoat for state authorities who have proved themselves unable to stop the series of murders of women on the border. Over 200 women and girls have been murdered since 1993.
Local civil rights activists Victoria Caraveo and Esther Chávez Cano believe that state security authorities have proved themselves incapable of doing their jobs. “This demonstrates the total incapacity (of the authorities) to manage a case. What in the world is going on?” said Caraveo.
“Here we go again watching,” said Cano. With all these investigations going on, and murdered women continue to appear.” She has also stated that the problem belongs not only to the authorities but to the society as a whole. “The authorities should not be our enemies but our partners as well work together to fight violence.”
Jesús Manuel Guardado Márquez (El Tolteca)
The case of Jesús Manuel Guardado Márquez (El Tolteca), accused of the assault, rape and attempted murder of Nancy in Cd. Juárez in March of 1999, has been sent to Chihuahua in a change of venue order. Because Márquez is at the prison in Cd. Chihuahua, Judge Lomas Loya sent his case to the capital city.
The judge did not believe Márquez’ statements that he had consensual sex with Nancy and left her in the desert asleep. The judge believes that Márquez tried to kill her and abandoned her in the desert outside the city, and therefore a consensual sex alibi makes no sense.
Although Márquez accepted the Judge’s beliefs, his attorney said he would appeal.
A group of 10 men, members of the gang The Rebels (Los Rebeldes) were arrested in 1996 and charged in the murders of seven women. Today, only five remain in prison still awaiting sentencing and the only concrete evidence is that the teeth of gang leader Sergio Armendáriz (El Diablo) match a scar on one of the murder victims.
Like the gang Los Choferes, these men have been accused of working under the direction of Abdel Latif Sharif Sharif, and also like the Choferes, they say that they were coerced with police brutality into making confessions.
The Citizens’ Fight
The Casa Amiga crisis center in Cd. Juárez has launched a fund-raising telethon with the help of the Professional and Business Women’s Organization. On an annual budget of $4,500 and with three employees, the center provides counseling, classes, resources and temporary shelter for families suffering from domestic violence. The telethon hopes to raise U.S. $15,000 by May 7 to keep the shelter going and allow them to hire more staff.
Casa Amiga opened in February of 1999, and in its first year of operation has assisted nearly 400 women and children. The center is one of four centers in all of México providing medical and counseling services as well as legal resources to women and children suffering from domestic abuse. There are over 1,000 such centers in the U.S.
The center works under the direction of Esther Chávez Cano, a civil rights activist and retired accountant. For more information and to donate please contact, http://www.diario.com.mx/teleton/intz.html or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Biking For Safety
Two bicyclists are making their way across the country and the U.S.-México border to sensitize the population to the gravity of the sexual violence against women. They were in the Paso del Norte region in late March.
Chris Vargo and Nicole Nadeau stopped at both Casa Amiga Crisis Center in Cd. Juárez and the Sexual Trauma and Assault Response Services (STARS) in El Paso. Other areas of the border that they have visited include centers in San Diego, Phoenix and Silver City. They will also be in Austin, Texas and finally on June 1 in Washington D.C.
“One of the things that we have noticed is that the majority of the women that are victims do not know about crisis centers that exist, and that is one of our purposes, to get the word out that there is help available,” said Nadeau, a social worker in the D.C. area working with homeless women.
Carmen Santos, a representative of STARS, noted that for every reported case of sexual assault, it is believed that there are nine that go unreported.” And that is what, Vargo said, motivated this protest, to help diminish the cases of sexual violence against women in the U.S. where two sexual assaults occur every minute.
Cd. Juárez Mayor Elizondo
The mayor of Cd. Juárez, Gustavo Elizondo Aguilar, requested on April 8 that the judicial authorities intensify their investigations into the murders of women as well as the drug trafficking executions which are both plaguing the city.
Elizondo said that the state’s special investigator in the murders of women and the attorney general’s office need to obtain more resources to confront the security problems that the city faces. “The city’s security force is managing on a shoe string,” he said, and Elizondo believes that Governor Martínez is going to have to release funds to address the violence problem.
Cd. Juárez Business Leaders
José Sigala Valero, president of the Cd. Juárez Business Association, has said that all three levels of government are useless in their ability to fight or to solve crime in the city. The criticism reported on April 9 in El Norte referred to the government entities as “inefficient,” “corrupt,” “unorganized,”and “lacking direction.” “The government by definition should guarantee the security of the people, but this is not possible.”
Héctor Armando Carreón León, president of the National Chamber of Commerce, agreed and said that due to the inefficiency of resources and programming of the governments’ efforts which should be reducing the problem but have instead “brought no results or hope to the citizens.”
New Measures For Security
The Chihuahua state Special Investigator in the Murders of Women, Suly Ponce Prieto, said that an search operation targeting strategic high risk areas began on April 6 with hopes of capturing criminals and providing prevention protection.
In early April, Cd. Juárez Police Chief Javier Benavidez González, Suly Ponce and State Assistant Attorney General Alejandro Asudillo Sánchez, met to discuss measures available to make sure there is not another murder of a young woman. Benavides announced that he has received new equipment so he can reduce the number of officers who patrol on foot and put more officers on bicycles and in patrol cars.
Sánchez announced the initiation of an investigation to look at the 27 most common routes through the city that are considered most dangerous, particularly those on which they have found the corpses of murdered women, to see what can be done to make the roads safer.
A Movie Proposed About the Murders of Women In Cd. Juárez
It was announced in early April that the movie director Gregory Nava (“El Norte,” “Mi Familia,” “Selena”) is working on a new screenplay entitled “Bordertown” that would focus on the murders of women in Cd. Juárez. The film would star Jennifer Lopez playing a journalist investigating the crimes.
However, NGOs in Cd. Juárez sent a letter to Jesús Alfredo Delgado Muñoz, Secretary of the City Council, to propose that the Council does not authorize the making of this film. The major concern, according to Victoria Caraveo, is whether the facts will be presented with a scientific point of view, or a Hollywood point of view. NGOs are not interested in the latter because they do not want the movie to provide sensationalism to a serious matter or to further damage the city’s already internationally marred image.
Family Violence Statistics Released By INEGI
According to recent report released by the Mexican National Institute on Statistical and Geographic Information (INEGI), in 1999 one third of Mexican households were suffering from family violence. The study also found that the education level of the couple did not greatly alter the amount of violence a family experiences.
Thirty-two percent of the families polled that experience violence involve couples who can not read or write, while 34.6 percent involve couples who finished primary school. While 30.5 percent have reached a middle school education, 25.4 percent had a bachelors degree and 29.8 percent are educated professionals.
Other statistics from the study show that one out of six households asked for help from abuse, and 30 percent of those went to specialists while 14 percent went to their church.
Of the households polled that said there was physical violence, 99.2 percent said there was also emotional abuse.
The types of aggression reported were as follows: 16 percent intimidation; 85 percent screaming; 41 percent anger; 25 percent insults; 11 percent physical violence including attempted strangulation and being beaten with an object; 7 percent verbal threats and 1 percent sexual abuse.
Sources: El Diario, El Norte, El Paso Times, Casa Amiga, STARS