Jul 30, 2013

The State of Mexico, the other Ciudad Juarez

El País - Vanguardia 
July 21, 2013
Original Americas Program Translation

Mexico – You don’t always learn from your mistakes. A decade ago, Mexico was terrorized with the almost daily appearance of female corpses in Ciudad Juarez.

At that time, the Mexican state was not able to guarantee a woman's right to life,  stated the American Court of Human Rights in 2009.

And now, 20 years after the beginning of femicide that has left more than 800 dead in the border city began, Mexico faces a new crisis and it is not Ciudad Juarez in the 90s, but the State of Mexico in 2013.

Civil associations argue that in 2011 and 2012, 563 women were killed in the State of Mexico for the sole reason of being a woman.

This last week is a clear example of the tragedy: the bodies of five young women, all with signs of brutal violence, have appeared in the Valle de Chalco, a town of about 350,000 inhabitants located precisely in the State of Mexico.

A gender violence alert mechanism that was created five years ago has now become a dumb bell. Neither these five dead nor the 563 from the last two years have convinced the National System to Prevent, Treat, Punish and Eradicate Violence to activate it.

This Friday they again refused to implement an alert, which so far remains unused even though the number of deaths in the country increased by 68% between 2007 and 2009, according to UN Women. The figure, for example, tripled in the State of Baja California.

Activation Demand

Associations have demanded activation of the alert six times: one in Oaxaca, two in Guanajuato, one in Nuevo Leon, and another in Hidalgo and another one in the State of Mexico. In these five years, and in only thirteen states, 4,112 women and girls have been violently murdered, according to the National Citizen Femicide Observatory (OCNF).

"We have the means to deal with this problem, but the authorities seem unwilling to acknowledge it. And if not recognized, solutions cannot be proposed. Meanwhile, women die,” explains Maria de la Luz Estrada, coordinator of OCNF. The agency argues that, of the 563 victims of femicide in the State of Mexico, only 115 were classified as such by the authorities, thus permitting them to avoid dealing with the problem.

Marcela Lagarde, president of the Network of Researchers for Life and Liberty for Women, believes there is, "a strong problem of impunity, of cases that are not recognized as femicide, but have some recurring patterns: young women disappear and are found with signs of sexual assault and extreme violence."  The Attorney General of the State of Mexico "has acknowledged that 73% of women murdered in the state in 2011 and 2012 were found on public roads, and that 42% were killed with the use of physical force," explained the Observatory.

If the alert was activated in the State of Mexico, where President Peña Nieto was once governor, it would initiate protocols for what happens in the ten municipalities where over half of the murders are concentrated. They should also thoroughly investigate the disappearances of 955 women who were registered in a period of 18 months (January 2011 to June 2012).

More than half of the missing were under 21 years. "It seems pretty obvious to think that if most of the missing are girls, they may be trafficked," said Maria de la Luz Estrada. "We know that if we search for them in the first few hours it is more likely to prevent them from being taken out of the state or country. Therefore we cannot investigate these cases as common disappearances, but according to a criterion of gender violence. This is acknowledging that there is a problem that is terribly violent against them,” explains Marcela Lagarde.

Original Spanish text
Translated by Yadira Diaz-Ramirez
Edited by Nidia Bautista

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