Since 1994, nearly 400 young women have been mysteriously murdered in Juarez, Mexico, just across the border from El Paso, Texas. In all that time there have been no convictions for these crimes, and in fact very little has been done at all by the governments of either country. |
Here in Portland you can learn more about this terrible injustice at two screenings of the award-winning documentary, Se├▒orita Extraviada. This film investigates the mysterious murders and documents the courage of the victims' families. The film also explores the underlying global economic circumstances that are the backdrop to these crimes.
Sponsored by Portland Central America Solidarity Committee, Se├▒orita Extraviada is showing tonight (Tuesday October 5) at Nocturnal at 8:30 pm, and Wednesday, October 13 at The Know at 7:00 pm. Admission to both is free.
These screenings coincide with the approaching International Caravan for Justice in Juarez and Chihuahua City, which will converge from across the U.S. on El Paso and then cross the border to Juarez, to demand justice for the murdered women. Portland welcomes the west coast leg of the Caravan October 20th with a rally at the PSU South Park Blocks at 12:30 pm and then a speakers panel at 7:00 at the Musicians Union Hall on NE 20th and Sandy. The panel will include Ramona Morales, Juarez resident and mother of disappeared and murdered Elena Morales, Mexico Solidarity Network activist Jessica Marques, & women representatives of local unions and groups opposed to all forms of violence against women.
In a few weeks I will be travelling with the Caravan, joining it in San Francisco on the 24th of October, and once in Juarez, participating in the 5-day delegation organized by the Mexico Solidarity Network to various locations and events in Juarez, including sites where some of the bodies were found, and factories where many of the women worked. I will be documenting the caravan and delegation on video, and reporting on Indymedia and on my blog.I consider this issue very important and especially worthy of my attention as a media activist because it concerns two of the biggest problems facing our society: violence against women, and economic globalization. Juarez/El Paso is one of the largest border communities in the world, and as Charles Bowden has written, it is a "laboratory of our future".
No one knows who is killing these women or why, but there are several theories: a significant number of the women were workers in maquiladoras, the border factories that serve the free trade sweatshop needs of U.S. companies, so perhaps the killings are something to do with the women trying to organize in the factories, or perhaps it is men jealous that the women were hired instead of them - often women are hired in free-trade zones because they are less likely to "cause trouble" and can be exploited more easily. Recently the Mexican police were reportedly rounding up random criminals and blaming them, just to appear to be doing something about the killings. And the latest news is that the state government seems to be trying to buy off the families of the victims by offering them new houses.
Then there is the drug trade, of which Juarez is a major center. The Mexican drug industry brings in between 15 and 30 billion US dollars a year - the largest industry in Mexico, even bigger than their oil industry. The huge lie of the "drug war" is that if it were ever "won" by the U.S., Mexico's economy would collapse because of this huge importance of drugs to their economy. It is said that half of all hotel rooms purchased in Mexico are actually fake purchases to launder drug money! And Juarez is home to one of the main Mexican drug cartels.
Many things come together in Juarez. People are murdered and raped around the world every day, but Juarez is one place where a lot of it has been happening because of the neoliberal trade policies that have been spreading over the Earth, and it is happening there first. It is a test tube, a way to look at where we are going globally, and it is right on our doorstep, across the Rio Grande. So, you should be able to look forward to some interesting stories from me.