Anne Marie Mackler, FNS Editor
Although there has been a decrease in reports of women’s bodies appearing in the desert outside of Cd. Juárez murdered, raped and tortured, the families of victims continue to demand solutions to crimes that have happened over the last six years, and families of women whose whereabouts remain a mystery seek answers also. But as we approach the 21st century, NGOs, politicians, writers and activists grow more determined to educate both the residents and the authorities in border communities on the important issues surrounding violence against women.
Victim’s Sister Fights For Justice And For The Return Of A Normal Life
Guillermina Gonzáles Flores, the sister of María Inés Sagrario, a Cd. Juárez murder victim, whose crime has never been solved, broke a silence of protest recently to speak against reports that she had been given financial support from the state goverment. She continues to demand justice for the nearly 200 families of female murder victims killed over the last six years in the border city.
González said that the reports that she has accepted state money for her tuition are absurd. She is going to school and paying on her own. Gonzáles works as a leader of Voices Without Sound (Voces Sin Eco), an NGO in Cd. Juárez that fights to bring solidarity to victims’ families and pressure the authorities to resolve the numerous unsolved sexual murders.
“I do not want to be a hero,” the activist said, adding that she avoided the publicity after her sister’s death and just wants to live the normal life of a young woman. Gonzáles also expressed sadness that the NGO’s have grown divided and have insufficient communication, but she will never stop working with them.
She remains active, however, and accompanied a group of victims’ families last month to Cd. México to speak to the U.N. representative Asma Jahangir who arrived in México to investigate the murders of women and other human rights offenses. “The irony is that these people had to travel so far to be heard.”
Above all, she says, she will not stop fighting until all of the murders are solved.
Another Woman Found Dead In Cd. Juárez; Prosecutor Says Drug Overdose
The body of Bertha Luz Briones Palacios, 41, was found by a neighbor on August 1 shot, severely beaten, and badly decomposed according to paramedics. However, the state’s Special Task Force on the Investigations of the Murders of Women later reported that she had died of a drug overdose and was a devil worshiper.
Briones lived in the colonia Monterrey, which was also where her body was found. According to the state police (PJE) authorities discovered an altar for carrying out satanic rituals in a dimly lit room which also contained witchcraft paraphenalia inside the victim’s home.
In addition to the wounds on her body, she had tracks and according to the state autopsy she died of an overdose of an unspecified drug. According to her sister-in-law Briones was a heroin addict.
There are still no suspects in the murder and there has been no published explanation for the condition of the woman’s body.
Woman Disappeared From Cd. Juárez
Rosa Velia Corder, 24, disappeared five months ago according to the family members and her disappearance remains a mystery to her relatives. Family members approached state police on August 11, looking for information in the investigation but were told that there was no new developments.
According to her sister, Velia Cordero’s disappearance is very strange because she left her money and her six children in the house, and the family is therefore certain that something awful has happened.
The sister said that Velia Cordero was living with two men, both from other cities, and both currently in jail, however the search for information in the mens’ hometowns revealed nothing.
Labastida Promises His Administration Would Empower Women
Francisco Labastida Ochoa, lead candidate for the ruling party of the country, the PRI, visited Cd. Juárez on August 11 and announced to a group of over 900 women that women have a future in politics if he is elected president. “If I am elected,” he said, “you have an ally in me.”
Labastida told woman that they represent the best of the country and that the country can go forward only if it has the best at its side. He wants to create a National Women’s Institute with its own deputy attorney general who would advocate for women’s issues. However, the candidate also warned the audience that they should respect the values set by the PRI. He told them that unless they “stop being victims of their own insecurity, insults and delinquency,” their participating in politics will never be a reality.
There was an increase in the number of government and elected positions held by women in Sinaloa when Labastida was governor of that Mexican state. He also created a special prosecutor’s position to deal with crimes against women.
National NGO Helps Establish Casa Amiga
Casa Amiga is the first rape crisis/domestic violence center in Cd. Juárez and the only one on the U.S. México border. It opened in February of this year and has received major support from the International Trauma Resource Center (ITRC), a private non-profit organization that is dedicated to empowering groups suffering from trauma by providing educational and counseling skills to community organizations serving those populations. Brian Barger, award winning U.S. journalist and board member of ITRC, recently published a report to the Board of Directors which details the immense work ITRC has done for Casa Amiga. Barger agreed to allow FNS to publish this report in its entirety ennumerating the accomplishments and challenges Casa Amiga has experienced with the assistance of ITRC and its other supporters. If interested in more information on the ITRC or Casa Amiga please email us firstname.lastname@example.org.