Activists Protest Murders of Young Women at the Mexican Border

Over 1,000 Mexicans and dozens of American and Canadian activists are demanding justice for the hundreds of women and girls murdered in Mexico’s border town of Juarez. The majority of victims, usually workers at US-owned assembly plants and factories known as maquiladoras, are found raped and strangled.

Over 200 US companies have located in Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, to exploit primarily young female workers at wages of approximately 40 cents an hour. The American companies have not provided adequate lighting, transportation, and other safety measures for these exploited workers as they travel to and from work. Lately, companies are pulling out of Juarez to find even cheaper labor in Southeast Asia.

Ramona Morales, whose 16-year-old daughter was killed in Juarez in 1995, has been traveling to cities across the United States to raise awareness about the problem. “Maybe with all of this we can get the support of the United States to finally find who killed our daughters,” she said, according to the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, angering women’s rights activists, the Mexican government released a report last week that argues that there is little evidence that the murdered women were victims of serial killings or gangsters. Human rights and women’s rights groups have been accusing the Mexican authorities of responding to the murders incompetently and of failing to take the necessary actions to investigate the abductions and brutal murders of women and girls in Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua, Mexico. “I think [the Mexican government] already know[s] who the killers are,” Maricela Ortiz, director of Return Our Daughters Home, told the New York Times. “I believe they know what is happening, and this network of complicity will not permit an easy solution, because the people who kill are rich and powerful.”

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The New York Times 10/25/04; The Associated Press 11/01/04; Reuters 10/31/04; AFL-CIO

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