A group of Mexican actresses traveled to embattled Ciudad Juarez this week to show solidarity with victims of violence and contribute to the construction of a new community library. The three women, Luisa Huertas, Julieta Egurrola and Angelina Pelaez, are recognized stage artists and members of Mexico’s National Theater Company.
The trio lent their support to a national campaign for peace and justice that arose after the massacre of 15 people, including 13 youths, at a party in the Ciudad Juarez neighborhood of Villas de Salvarcar last January 30. Subsequent media reports blamed the killings on drug cartel gunmen who mistook the youths for rival gang members.
In a May 25 visit to Villas de Salvarcar, the actresses hugged mothers of massacre victims and read from a work by Chihuahua playwright Victor Hugo Rascon Banda that centers on the lives of three women surviving marginality and violence.
Local organizations supporting the event attended by dozens of people included Voices for Juarez, Pact for Culture, University Left Committee and others.
“These initiatives by the theater community of Mexico City will happen at different times and in different places across the country,” said Ciudad Juarez actress Perla de la Rosa in an e-mail. “It is happening because of the strong conviction that art and culture are fundamental instruments for the reconstruction of the social fabric at its roots and key tools to foster the unity of citizens in order to transform the climate of war, unilaterally imposed by the federal government.”
In Villas de Salvarcar, community members are moving forward with the construction of a new neighborhood library planned to be a center of culture and learning. The library will offer an alternative space for young people who are especially impacted by the crime and violence devastating Ciudad Juarez.
Residents of Villas de Salvarcar plan an all-day inaugural and fund raising event for the library on Saturday, June 5. Open to the public, the event will include games, music, food and more.
Addressing the May 25 event, de la Rosa praised the Villas de Salvarcar movement as an example of the grassroots actions needed to take back Ciudad Juarez.
“Let it be understood that only the people can save the people and that’s why they are organizing,” de la Rosa said. “Like the residents who recovered a house which was refuge of delinquents and turned it into a library.”
Additional sources: La Jornada, May 25, 2010. Article by Ruben Villalpando. El Diario de Juarez, May 23 and 25, 2010. Articles by Blanca Carmona and Cynthia Camacho.