Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mexico: Women’s rights activists flee Juarez

While U.S. and Mexican authorities continue to debate over arms smuggling drug-related violence continues to run rampant over parts of Mexico. This violence has adversely affected women in the northern border region including females in positions of power and women’s rights activists.

Local police chief Marisol Valles Garcia fled across the border last week seeking political asylum in the U.S. and was subsequently was fired from her post. The twenty-year-old made headlines last year and was viewed as a symbol of resistance against the country’s narcotraffickers. Yet the possibility of “some new capo taking over the territory and demanding absolute unconditionality” according to a local human rights ombudsman seemed to have taken its toll on Garcia.

Prison warden Rebeca Nicasio became one of the latest victims of violence in Mexico after she was slain yesterday. An inmate stabbed Nicasio during a “routine inspection” at the infamous prison where about 150 inmates escaped last year. The prison escape, which occurred last December, was done with the cooperation of corrupt prison officials including Nicasio’s predecessor who has gone missing.

This month alone a pair of Ciudad Juarez women’s rights activists, Malú García Andrade and Marisela Ortíz fled across the border to the U.S. and filed for asylum. In January, Garcia denounced to the local Attorney General’s office that she became a target for threats. Ortiz, meanwhile, served as the head of the “May Our Daughters Return Home” association yet feared for her safety after receiving several anonymous death threats. One of these vulgar messages aimed at both women:
“If you want to keep supporting that fucking whore of a professional Malu, piece of shit teacher Marisela (sic) Ortiz, we will fuck over your family staring with you son…who is on our list. Att. JL ____.”
Women like Garcia and Ortiz face a Catch-22 situation; if they stay in Mexico to help their communities they risk getting assassinated. Migrating to the U.S. may bring a measure of safety but that could be taken away if they get deported back to their homeland.

Image- Margarito Perez/Reuters via CSMonitor.com (“Pink crosses made out of paper, each representing a woman who has been killed, are placed on a square in Cuernavaca in Mexico on March 7.”)
Online Sources- Diario Digital Juarez, RTT News, LAHT, El Universal, BBC News, ABC News, UPI, AHN, The Guardian

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