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Day of the Dead: Remembering feminicide victims in Mexico

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Feminicide or gender-based murdering of women is the ultimate manifestation of the continuum of violence against women, not a phenomenon that consists of isolated incidents. These violent acts are a serious violation of human rights linked to discrimination, patriarchal structures and high levels of impunity that are deeply rooted within societies and worsened by high levels of poverty.

Feminicide exists in all the countries and cultures of the world and it takes place in many forms and different contexts. In Latin America we can find five of the twelve countries with the highest rates of feminicide in the world. Mexico is among them.

In many societies, gender-related killing of women is the result of prolonged years of domestic abuse and torture by husbands or intimate partners. Women who are especially marginalized and who experience multiple forms of discrimination – whether it is based on race, ethnicity, sexual identity or other factors – are at higher risk of suffering violence against women, including feminicide. This is especially true, for instance, for many indigenous women around the world.

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Discrimination is not only evident in the murders themselves, but also in the lack of reaction of the authorities to the disappearance of young women. The way in which the killings are investigated and the inadequate protection programs in place to prevent such murders are also examples of such discriminatory treatment. Furthermore, the vast majority of the women murdered or reported missing come from poor backgrounds, meaning that women suffer discrimination of two kinds: on the basis of both gender and social class.

In Mexico, the murders of women in Ciudad Juarez have received widespread attention. Ciudad Juarez, located in the state of Chihuahua in Mexico, is an industrialized border city with El Paso, Texas in United States. There, the reality of the violence that women and girls have been subjected to since 1993 is indeed harsh:  there are various media reports that indicate that the numbers of female homicides range from hundreds to thousands. The cause of this difference in numbers is that the records of women homicide victims are not classified by authorities as “feminicide” or “gender-based murdering”, and the most accurate records are still kept by individuals, researchers and anti-feminicide activists, rather than by the police,  the state or the federal institutions. As a consequence, it is currently impossible to know the true magnitude of this phenomenon.

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It was in 1993 when family members of victims and activists first began to ring alarm bells of feminicide in Ciudad Juarez. Now, 20 years later, the crisis has spread virally throughout all the country. Today, feminicide is a latent problem in the states of Guerrero, Michoacán, Jalisco, Guanajuato, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Baja California, Veracruz, México City and most profoundly in México State, which now reports numbers of murders higher than those of the embattled state of Chihuahua.

Furthermore, the incompetence or altogether absent efforts of authorities to find people who are taken adds to the suffering of victim’s families, for whom not knowing what happened to their loved ones is a source of perpetual anguish. Nevertheless, the voices of the families of victims and their allies are not remaining silent. Instead, the demands for justice are multiplying and echoing louder. Very often, the mothers and other family members who have suffered the disappearance or feminicide of a loved one are treated and portrayed solely as victims by authorities and the media. However, many of these “victims” are now assuming the roles of anti-feminicide activists and human rights defenders, becoming leaders of social movements and campaigns for justice. This change is not always easy; sometimes the family members may lose access to basic social services such as healthcare and childcare, due to the death of the women who had these services registered under their names. The family members are confronted to costly and emotionally hard battles to regain the lost benefits. Making matters even worse for these family members who take a huge risk by documenting the grave abuses.

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In early years, the authorities refused to act on a missing person’s report until several days had passed. They justified this delay on the grounds of saying that a woman might have gone off with her boyfriend without informing her family and that most probably she would turn up safe and sound. Such delays to start investigations and legal formalities constitute an integral part of the negligence of the state, which used to refuse recognizing and addressing the implications of the pattern of kidnapping and murdering young women.

Today, the authorities no longer display a lack of interest in their public discourse. As a result of national and international pressure, they know that a lack of response in the abductions and murders is in question and will have a political cost. However, the lack of results of the state and federal government authorities and agencies over the past years has justifiably caused the relatives and society to be skeptical.

In conclusion, the authorities of Mexico have shown incompetence and corruption in the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for crimes against women. Most importantly, the Mexican government has failed to provide information and support to the families of the victims over the last years, showing indifference and lack of sensibility. In addition, they have shown a discriminatory attitude towards the victims and their relatives, who lack the economic and political power to ensure that justice is effectively used on their behalf.
Therefore, from The Netherlands we raise a strong complaint to Mexican government and we urgently demand solution and justice to women murders and abductions accumulated over the years.

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References:

www.hester.nu

www.gruposur.org

 www.boell.eu

  www.amnesty.org

 www.hrw.org

Gender violence and hope in Ciudad Juárez: interview with Arsène van Nierop, president of Hester Foundation

‘Yo soy #132 Holanda’ was honoured to interview Mrs. Arsène van Nierop, founder and president of Hester Foundation (Stichting Hester). Stichting Hester was named after Arsène’s daughter, Hester van Nierop, who was found raped and murdered in a hotel room in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico in 1998, when she was nearly 28 years old. After a short holiday with her parents and younger sister, Hester was on her way to the United States, where she hoped to find an architecture internship. She never reached her destination. In 2004 Arsène van Nierop, Hester’s mother, decided to take action by founding the Foundation for Hester to fight the injustice to the women of Ciudad Juárez.

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Violencia y periodismo en México: Entrevista con Sergio Haro Cordero.

El sexenio del ex-presidente Felipe Calderón, desde el inicio de la llamada ‘guerra contra la delincuencia organizada’, más comúnmente conocida como ‘narcogerra’,  estuvo marcado por la violencia contra los periodistas. Según datos del Comité para la Protección de los Periodistas (CPJ) desde 2006 hasta la fecha han sido asesinados 45 periodistas. Otros reportes** indican que esta cifra asciende a 82 periodistas asesinados entre 2006 y 2012.  Además, según la CPJ México es el octavo país del mundo en impunidad en materia de crimen contra periodistas.

Sergio Haro Cordero es periodista de investigación, fotógrafo y uno de los fundadores del Semanario Zeta. Se desenvuelve en este medio desde 1985, en el área de Baja California, cubriendo temas como la corrupción y el narcotráfico. También ha reportado para Siete días, Crónica, Radio Capital y American press agency (AP).

Haro estuvo en Holanda en el marco del festival “Movies that matter” para la presentación del documental “Reportero”, dirigido por Bernardo Ruiz, que narra la historia del semanario Zeta  desde sus inicios. Dicho semanario es notable por su valentía y esmero al publicar las noticias como son, en un desafío hacia el poderío del crimen organizado y la corrupción gubernamental. Tuvimos el gusto de conocer a Sergio brevemente tras la discusión del documental en La Haya. Muy amablemente le concedió a ‘Yo soy #132 Holanda’ la siguiente entrevista:
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Los peligros de la introducción de maíz genéticamente modificado en México.

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México constituye el centro mundial de la diversidad del maíz: es en nuestro país donde el maíz se originó y fue domesticado. En México se han descrito más de 50 razas de maíces nativos. Esta gran diversidad es el resultado de factores humanos (selección y manejo por parte de los agricultores) y de diferentes factores naturales, como la heterogeneidad ambiental.

“La relación entre el maíz y los mexicanos es única en el mundo debido a la diversidad existente, los múltiples usos que tiene y el hecho de que todas las partes de la planta de maíz (hojas, mazorcas, granos, etc.) se utilizan. Se han documentado cerca de 600 formas diferentes de consumirlo y en promedio los mexicanos consumimos diariamente 336 gramos,  principalmente de forma directa (p.ej. elotes, tortillas, atoles y tamales) sin un procesamiento industrial. (FAOSTAT 2007 consultado marzo 2011).”

El maíz es parte fundamental de la cultura mesoamericana. No sólo es la base de la alimentación de los mexicanos y de muchas otras culturas, sino que la conservación de la diversidad genética y las variedades de maíz será crucial para hacer frente a retos de seguridad alimentaria y cambio climático a los que sin duda nos enfrentaremos en un futuro cercano. El impacto de la introducción a gran escala de maíz genéticamente modificado es potencialmente irreversible y amenaza la biodiversidad, la soberanía y la seguridad alimentaria. Además tiene la capacidad de crear problemáticas ambientales, sanitarias, sociales, económicas y legales.

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Por una nueva revolución mexicana, una revolución de consciencias.

Quienes crecimos y fuimos educados en México, aprendimos a concebir la Revolución  como uno de los sucesos más importantes en la historia de un pueblo hasta entonces sometido y explotado.

Nuestros maestros nos explicaban que antes de la Revolución, en México no había democracia, sino dictadura. Nos contaban también que antes de la Revolución los campesinos en México no eran dueños de sus tierras, que la infraestructura y los recursos naturales se encontraban en manos extranjeras, que los obreros eran explotados, que trabajaban jornadas de más de 8 horas diarias y que carecían de los mínimos derechos laborales. Pero eso era antes.

La Revolución habría significado un cambio radical. Gracias a la entrega de héroes como Francisco I. Madero, los mexicanos habían obtenido el derecho de elegir libremente a sus gobernantes. Gracias a la  lucha de caudillos como Emiliano Zapata y Francisco Villa, se había consumado el reparto de tierras y consolidado un Estado de igualdad social.

Después de la Revolución, nada sería igual. Read More…

El REDD, los bosques y el despojo de los indígenas.

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–Pero ¿cómo pueden las Naciones Unidas despojar a indígenas de su tierra?– me pregunta la vecina con mirada torva mientras podamos la hortensia que adorna la entrada del callejón.

Y cómo explicarle a esta holandesa promedio, acostumbrada a que los planes funcionen de acuerdo a lo establecido, que la conservación bosques per se no garantiza que las personas que viven en ellos sean beneficiadas. Y que además la ONU está supeditada al veto de los cinco miembros permanentes: China, Estados Unidos, Inglaterra, Rusia y Francia. Existe evidencia de lobby corporativo donde el lucro y las ganancias –en lugar que las Metas de Desarrollo de Milenio- son el factor no determinante pero que influye en la toma de decisiones que podrían tener impactos sociales y ambientales dañinos (FoEI, 2012). Y al nivel de los consumidores se ignora el efecto periférico que produce el estilo de vida de los países del Norte Global en los países que envían materias primas extraídas de sus hábitats naturales.

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Everybody in the World should know that democracy in Mexico is a farce.

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The situation Mexico is going through is just too serious to be ignored, and it needs as much attention from the international community as it can get. As you may or may not know on July 1st 2012, Mexico ‘supposedly’ elected a new president. We say supposedly because the whole process was stained with all kinds of irregularities.

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Manifestación en La Haya, Países Bajos, 15 Julio 2012

Manifestación en La Haya, Países Bajos, 15 Julio 2012

Un grupo de mexicanos residentes en Holanda se manifestaron el 15 de Julio contra el fraude electoral frente a la embajada de México en los Paises Bajos.

Video producido y editado por Erika Moreno, agregado a Youtube por Cid005