Archive - Apr 2, 2006 - Blog entry

Into CJ Again

Hello from Albuquerque. I arrived here last night after a day spent with my Tucson homies over in Ciudad Juárez. We lucked out and had a really productive day. We'd been wanting to meet with some community activists in Rancho Anapra called Las Hormigas. But it was proving difficult to arrange something for Saturday and we had sort of resigned ourselves to not being able to see them. las hormigas
However, as we wandered around Anapra we just stumbled onto their community center. Although it was closed, we had even more good luck. As we stood there reading their posters on the outside of the building, a volunteer drove up after finishing their daily cheap lunch program for the day. She gave us a bunch of literature and we talked a bit about what they were doing, including the resistance to a new highway that is slated to be built through the community and displace thousands of already poor residents of this neighborhood of shacks.

We said we'd follow up with the organizers later, and then drove into el centro. I showed my friends just a taste of what downtown Juarez is like and then we headed for the border bridge. We felt pretty happy with our visit. At the border, the guard gave me, the driver, the full round of questions about where i was from, why we were there, ran my license, etc. I explained we had been in Juarez for the day after being at a conference in Las Cruces for 3 days. He asked what hotel we stayed at and then what was the conference about. I told him the truth, it was about the murdered women of Juarez. I consider it a subtle form of activist information-spreading. It's not illegal to be interested in the femicide, so why not bring it up, keep it on people's minds as much as possible? I'm sure everyone in El Paso knows about it, but many choose to keep it tucked under the rug of their brains.
who's next?
The conference, for me, was really about people coming together to help each other and help each other work on this cause. Almost everyone who was there already knew most of the facts about the situation, other than a few updates and perhaps some obscure numbers. It was in the form of an academic conference, but it was important not for imparting facts and figures, theories or findings, but for updating our emotional batteries. It gets so easy to work on these kinds of things and become almost desensitized, to work on it and know what it's about but disconnect from the real emotional reality. But by seeing and hearing the mothers one gets an inspirational recharge. One gets sad but then filled with renewed determination to try to make a difference and help. The mothers are the constant reminder, the reality check, the coming-down-to-earth connection.

This is not another academic topic to just write papers on and then go home. This is a real, constant, continuing, horrific situation that needs real action in response to it. Seeing the mothers speak, returning to the city and seeing the pink and black crosses still painted on poles, you know it's still there, that these women are still waiting. In fact, it was announced during one panel that a new body had been found just this week, the first day of the conference, right near the International Bridge. Was this a message, one of the many apparent messages sent using mutilated bodies in Juarez? Was someone trying to say, using "un lenguaje que no entendemos todavía" (as Marisela Ortiz said in my film), that you can have your little conference and give your little speeches and show your little films but the killings will continue? Was someone taunting us from the border while we sat in Las Cruces watching powerpoint presentations?

It's chilling to think like that but it may be true. I hope not, but it may be so, and it may also be so that there's no force on earth that can stop this. But judging by the growing tide of people working to fight it, I'm actually optimistic. It will be stopped. The final measure of the horror will only be determined by the time it will take to finish it, but it is a matter of time now. Eventually enough people will know, about this injustice as with many others, and it will not be able to stand.

lomas de poleo