Slain mother is a stark reminder of women’s brutal fate in Mexico

 
Marisela Escobedo was holding a vigil for her murdered daughter in front of the state governor’s office in Chihuahua City last Thursday when a man drove up and shot her in the head, in full view of security cameras and numerous onlookers. On the day of her  wake, armed men burned her family business down. Even by Mexico’s standards of violence, Escobedo's tragic story came as a shock. 
 
Escobedo had made a name for herself in activist circles for her determined, two-year battle to bring the man who killed her daughter, Rubi Marisol, to justice. She staged numerous marches and rallies to draw attention to the case, including one where she walked naked from the northern Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez to Chihuahua in central Mexico, wearing nothing but a banner bearing her daughter’s photograph.
 
Sixteen-year-old Rubi disappeared in Ciudad Juarez in August 2008. Her  burned, dismembered remains were found in a bin nearly a year later. Escobedo tirelessly led the hunt for the main suspect in the killing, Rubi’s boyfriend Sergio Barraza. Although Barraza confessed to the killing [he later retracted his confession, saying he spoke under duress] and led police to Rubi’s body, a court ordered his release last April due to a lack of evidence. According to Mexican media reports, Barraza joined the ranks of the criminal organization “Los Zetas” upon his release.
 
In early December, Escobedo planted herself in front of the offices of Governor Cesar Duarte, vowing not to move until investigators pursued the case. Her vigil had gone on for over a week when she was shot dead on December 16. Days earlier, she told reporters that she had received death threats from Barraza’s family.
 
Barraza is now the chief suspect in Escobedo's murder, according to Carlos Gonzalez - a spokesman for the attorney general's office in Chihuahua state. The three judges who ordered Barraza's release have been suspended and will be investigated on charges of negligence and misuse of power.  
 
Security footage showed masked men pulling up in a car in front of the building at 1’21. One appears to exchange words with Escobedo, who gets up and tries to run across the street. The gunman chases her down and shoots her in the head, running off after Escobedo. Video posted on YouTube by senderodelpeje.
Contributors

"Marisela paid for her courage and determination with her life"

Martha Tagle is a feminist activist and politician in Mexico City. She is at the forefront of a recent campaign to legalize abortion in Mexico, as well as many campaigns to end violence against women. She participated in a march last week  to demand that those responsible for Marisela Escobar’s death be brought to justice.
 
The case of Marisela Escobar and her daughter is an absolute, horrific tragedy. It seems there is a deadly vendetta going on against her family. These criminals enjoy complete impunity. Even after her murder, police did nothing to prevent armed men from burning down her partner’s lumber yard. Her sons are terrified; they too have received death threats.
 
It’s important to bear in mind, however, that no matter how tragic this story is, it is just one case among tens of thousands of murdered women in Mexico. The only reason Marisela’s daughter was remembered was because her mother refused to give up. She was very courageous, but she paid for it with her life.
 
Fifteen years ago, we feminists were already sounding the alarm over the phenomenon of “femicidios” (female murder victims) that were taking place in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. Hundreds of women disappeared each year. Some were found dead in the desert, others never found. The killings weren’t only linked to organized crime (drug trafficking, organ trafficking or prostitution). The level of violence has reached such a point that anybody can rape or kill a woman and get away with it.
 
“We are seeing the consequence of years of government inaction to stop violence against women”
 
Nevertheless, despite years of awareness-raising campaigns, protests, marches, and public pledges by politicians, the government has failed to take any real, efficient measures to solve the problem. It just doesn’t seem to be one of their priorities. Even in a relatively high-profile case like Escobedo’s, the government has appeared to wash its hands off any responsibility. Marisela sat outside the governor’s office for one week before she was shot dead on his doorstep. Not once did he agree to speak to her, or even acknowledge her presence. After she was shot, all the authorities did was to suspend the three judges who ordered the release of her daughter’s murderer, and issue a warrant for a man corresponding to the description of the man who shot her. No additional protective measures were set up, no strong public statements were made.
 
I think today we are seeing the consequences of years of government inaction to stop violence against women in Ciudad Juarez, but also in all of Mexico. We feminists are determined not to let the issue drop this time. During our protest, we [a delegation of feminists] demanded to meet the relevant authorities before January 7, 2011, to discuss concrete measures to be taken, both in Escobedo’s individual case, and more generally. We are still awaiting a response.”
 
Photo: Pablo Ramos
 
Photo: Pablo Ramos
 
 
 
Women protest after the murder of Marisela Escobedo in Mexico City on Friday, December 17. Photos posted on Facebook by Martha Tagle.
 
Video of the protest, posted on YouTube by La Silla Rota.

Marisela Escobedo's campagin to bring her daughter's murderer to justice

Marisela Escobedo's "semi-naked" march from Ciudad Juarez to Chihuahua city. Video posted on YouTube by ReporterosMex.
 
 
Escobedo holding a portrait of her murdered daughter on April 26, 2010. Photo posted on Flick by Pablo Ramos.
 
 
Marisela leaving the Chihuahua courthouse after the man suspected of killing her daughter Rubi Marisol was freed. Photo posted on Flickr by Pablo Ramos.
 
Post written with France 24 journalist Lorena Galliot.

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