This book is a devastating report on the deaths and disappearances of women, mainly of indigenous Mexican origin, who die and disappear from towns on the Mexican-USA border. These towns are full of designated tax-free zones where global factories, called maquiladoras, are a rich source of profit for the owners, mainly USA companies. The workers, most of whom are women from poor families, are over worked and under paid, have few legal or health benefits. The factories pour toxic waste into the community polluting land, water and air.
400 women have been murdered in Cuidad Juarez and Chihuahua City since 1993. Little official action has been taken to solve these killings. In an area where where neoliberal trade agreements and politics are intertwined with drug trafficking and corrupt police, there is little interest and often deliberate cover up of these crimes. . The women murdered are young, poor and of aboriginal background. They are taken from the street – en route to and from distant factories- and are usually raped and beaten before they are murdered.
The book explains the rural crisis of small farmers driven from their land, unable to compete with subsidized maize from enormous corporations from the USA. Often it is only the young women who can get work in the factories and they are expected to support their destitute families on their pittance of less that $5/day. For many men the main source of income is the production and transport of illegal drugs with the help of local police.
On page 86 the authors say, “The decade-long series of femicides occurs in the context of a neoliberal experiment that is out of control. Cuidad Juarez and Chihuahua City are the leading edge of 21st century frontier capitalism, part of the race to the bottom that is enveloping ever-larger parts of the world. Young women are little more than replaceable cogs in a profit—driven machine that values neither life nor dignity…
You need not look far in your own community to find the beginnings of the same race to the bottom — decreasing education budgets, increased unemployment, declining standards of living, less access to health care, and, most importantly, less democracy. The race to the bottom tears apart the cultural fabric, tears apart community, resulting in a situation where femicide takes its place among a number of pressing social problems. And given the historic position of women in male-dominated societies, femicide does not make it anywhere near the top of the list.”
That excerpt sums it up and makes it easy to understand that the main group working for justice for the victims are mothers, sisters, aunts and cousins. This is the group we are called to support in solidarity. The book ends with lists of concrete action we can take and contacts for action groups. A film, Senorita Extravida, and more information are available from msn@MexicoSolidarity.org See also: www.amigosdemujeres.org, www.casa-amiga.org, www.mexicosolidarity.org