Sep 14, 2007

New book by UNAM on Juarez femicides & other topics

Coming soon blog in Spanish at

See Randy Beamer's news video at

Spanish interview with El Coloquio de los Perros at

How to help: Donate to scholarship fund for girls from low-income families in Juarez via and sign petition for Mexico to adopt a national Amber alert system (Alerta Esmeralda)


By AaronTovo
(Seattle) - The information in this book blew me away. As an Amnesty International activist I have known about the hundreds of unsolved murders in Juarez for a few years now and I have been under the impression that no one knew what was behind the femicides. This book makes it perfectly clear that powerful people on both sides of the border know what's going on and that many of those powerbrokers south of the border are directly responsible. This book is especially commendable because of the attention and honor it pays to the families of the victims and the toll all of the trauma has taken on citizens of the border region. A simplified version of this book's explanation of the Juarez femicides is that the Colombian drug cartel forged an agreement with some of the most powerful people in Mexico, (and) that in exchange for money the Mexicans would grant the cartel and its allies total impunity in the state of Chihuahua. This grim agreement gave the power to kill kidnap, and torture to a mix of sadists, misogynists, serial killers and multi-millionaires. The cartel recruited many of its operatives from the Mexican army when [Mexico's dirty war] ended, which brings up another important point in this book... these operatives were trained to kidnap, torture, and kill leftists and other political dissidents and had no use for these awful skills ... (and with it Mexico's "Dirty War" against political dissidents). This made them ripe for recruitment by the cartels for whom they applied all of the same twisted techniques of their trade (like throwing people out of airplanes). The book also notes that the government was easily corrupted by the cartel largely because Mexico's political and justice institutions were so badly weakened by three decades of the Dirty War. This Dirty War was covertly encouraged and supported by the USA as part of it's Cold War strategy. It's a horrifying example of what the intelligence community refers to as 'blowback'. The amount and specificity of information make this the best single source of information on this issue that I've encountered. The author names names and cites her sources to the extent that is possible. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to begin to understand this issue, and especially to journalists, human rights activists and researchers who are working on this issue. This book isn't for everyone. I contains graphic descriptions of victims horrific acts of violence. This is not done gratuitously as the victims' bodies have given forensics experts important clues that [the author] uses to unravel some of the mysteries. And some people might not take to the journalistic writing style of Washington Valdez, a journalist for the El Paso Times, because it doesn't always flow the way a good novelist might tell a story. Some times information is thrown in for factual completeness that kind of breaks the rhythm of the narrative. For that reason, I recommend this more for a person who wants to learn about the Juarez femicides than for someone looking for an entertaining story. ///

Book in English & Spanish

What's up with the "Bordertown" movie?

According to Barbara Martinez-Jitner, ThinkFilm is still the distributor, and the Oct. 19 release and premiere scheduled for El Paso has been postponed, not canceled. She said this was done to accommodate all the mothers of victims who wanted to be present for the premiere. She said Jennifer Lopez, the movie's central figure, considers it very important for the mothers to be there. [Kelly McKenzie] and

Diana Washington Valdez will be in Austin, Texas on Oct. 6, where she will be the featured speaker for Amnesty International at 7 p.m. at Jovita's, 1617 S. 1st St. She will speak about the status of the Juarez women's murders.

Writer receives award in Washington, D.C.; America Ferrera honored at same event
A headliner at Amnesty International in Austin

Los Angeles -- Diana Washington Valdez, author of The Killing Fields: Harvest of Women (Cosecha de Mujeres: Safari en el desierto mexicano) received the Latina Leader (Lider Latina) in Literature award from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute in October in Washington, D.C.

She was recognized for her books in English and Spanish, essays and other articles that reflect a passionate devotion to the theme of violence against women in Mexico and Latin America.

"I am honored and share this honor with the people who made it possible to tell the whole story of the Juarez women's," the author said.

At the event, U.S. Rep. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.) praised her achievements, and commented on the threats the author has received.

Actress America Ferrera, who was honored as Latina Leader in Entertainment, also extended her congratulations.

During her visit to Washington, the author gave U.S. activist icon Dolores Huerta copies of her short poems in English and Spanish about the death of Cesar Chavez. [Ms. Huerta and Ms. Washington Valdez are relatives.]

Ms. Washington Valdez will be a headliner at the upcooming Amnesty International feat in Austin, Texas.

"Although some things have changed, the families of victims inform us that there is still much to be done. They also report continued intimidation and threats for speaking out. The outgoing mayor publicly stated that he would have them arrested if they paint memorial crosses along the new Camino Real highway."
-- by Kelly McKenzie, correspondent;

Movie with Jennifer Lopez to debut in El Paso, Texas.
Jesus Christ: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons (and daughters) of God.

Washington, D.C. -- Diana Washington Valdez will receive the Latina Leader in Literature Award from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute during a reception Oct. 2 in Washington, D.C. America Ferrera, the actress of "Ugly Betty" fame, is being honored at the same event as the Latina Leader in Entertainment. [MZ Marketing & Public Relations]

Contact the author through or or