On Monday, Oct. 23, Veronica Levy, a community advocate of Juarez, Mexico, spoke to a small student audience at Mills College.
Levy explained that she had just spoken at UC Berkeley and was headed for a school in Fresno the following day. Her mission was to gather as much support and disseminate as much information as possible, to bring international solidarity in putting an end to the brutal killings of women in Juarez, Mexico.
“So many women killed in Juarez come from southern parts of Mexico, many can’t even be identified because they don’t have family there. Since many are migrating northward to work in the maquilas [U.S. factories], the creation and selling of these products provides an alternative income to having to leave their homes,” said Rachel Mehl, an organizer with the Mexico Solidarity Network, Chicago office.
Jessica Mosqueda and Daisy Gonzales, Mills seniors, opened the event by thanking all Mills departments that donated funds that made their spring femicides delegation to Juarez and Chihuahua, Mexico possible. Femicide refers to the killing of women by men because they are women.
“Over one hundred of the murders have been categorized as sexual and serial by Mexican officials,” said Levy. They were categorized as serial because of the similarities in the evidence.
Levy said that to understand the killings of women in Juarez, one must understand Juarez as the border town that it is. “80 percent of the capital in Juarez is U.S. based. Mexico has made efforts to attract Maquilas, but that effort has not been made to provide services for the people working in them,” said Levy.
Most of the women share similar physical characteristics. “Most of the murdered women have had long hair and have been dark-skinned,” said Levy. She also said that the manner in which they are killed has been similar.
“The women were kidnapped, raped, tortured, then killed and thrown into empty lots in the outskirts of the city.” said Levy.
The murders remain unresolved. Many arrests have been made, though some people, like Levy, fear that they have been made in vain. Two men that were arrested and detained for years recently and mysteriously died in prison. Both died in state penitentiaries after checkups, according to Mexican officials during press releases.
Levy explained that she wasn’t at Mills to offer solutions.
“We are here to establish solidarity, we ask that you all put pressure on Mexican government to not only solve and stop the murders, but also to bring justice to the officials that have minimized and covered up the crimes.”
The event had a low turnout. “I don’t really think that this issue relates to women at Mills,” said Alma Garcia, a senior. “Most women here live comfortably. While some may have political consciousness, I think most feel a disconnection with femicide, while a few of us really feel for the issue,” she added.
Maria Dominguez, a junior at Mills, said, “I really appreciated hearing the voices from people who have actually experienced the injustice of the situation.” She added, “Experts – outsiders – sometimes capitalize on other people and their experiences. I’m glad that’s not the case here.”
Levy said community participation in efforts to stop the femicides has also been low. “It’s not as much as we would like to see. There is valid fear because of past government repression against past actions.” That is why she said sees international support and solidarity as a key factor in ending femicides in Mexico.