Monday, April 11, 2011

National Poetry Month: "Ni una más," poet Susana Chavez is a stilled voice

From reports in the LA Times and the BBC:

Susana Chavez, a poet and long time activist who spoke out against the decade-long murder of women in Juarez, was found murdered on January 6. She had been tortured and suffocated; her left hand had apparently been cut off with a saw. Officials have said the murder and mutilation were the result of an "unfortunate encounter" and the mutilation was an attempt to make the killing appear to be the work of a drug cartel.

Her death marks the latest addition to a grim figure. By Christmas Eve of last year, 978 women had died violently in the Juarez area since the state began recording the figure separately in 1993. Significantly, at least 300 of those deaths, or just under a third, occurred in 2010 amid skyrocketing bloodshed due to a war between drug cartels.

Ms Chavez was active in an organisation called May Our Daughters Return Home, which represents the families and friends of the killed women.

Attorney General for Chihuahua State Carlos Manuel Salas says her death was the result of an "unfortunate encounter" with three teenagers, since identified, who got involved in an argument with Ms Chavez and strangled her. Human rights group Amnesty International said that although her murder did not seem to be related to her activism, Ms Chavez's killing was another sign that violence against women was still rising in Ciudad Juarez.

Her death has caused an uproar because she had been one of few to speak out against the growing number of murders, coining the phrase Ni una más (“Not one more") and routinely criticizing local authorities for refusing to properly investigate the crimes. Her death has cast new suspicions about local authorities’ ability to handle the cases. That is to say, that they’ve largely chosen to ignore them; so far, 92 percent of cases of women who’ve been murdered in the region remain unsolved.

Chavez’s killing happened less than a month after the murder of Marisela Escobedo, the mother who set up shop in front of the state governor’s office to demand the arrest of the killer of her 16-year-old daughter. Escobar alone investigated the whereabouts of the perpetrator, who was eventually set free by a panel of judges despite confessing to the crime. The judges are currently being investigated for the decision.

The case is bound to set a legal precedent in Mexico because it is the first time a panel of judges may stand trial for apparently ignoring evidence presented by the state’s district attorney.

(photo of Ni una más rally from the blog radiar noticias mx)

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