Monday, May 6, 2013


Chris Cooper – 2,846 Words

Daughters of Lost Trinities

A supplication
A star
A flower
For all the women of Juarez
For all of us
For them.
Excerpt from SECRETRS IN THE SAND  THE YOUNG WOMEN OF JUAREZ by Marjorie Agosin; translated by Celeste Kostopylos-Cooperman

“It is critical that we understand salvation in a social way; ;If not we are distorting salvation.  We need to look at salvation in both personal and social terms.  To focus only on the salvation of the individual is not the complete salvation.”
Dr Nancy Pineda-Madrid

When Dr. Nancy Pineda-Madrid, Assistant Professor of Theology and the U.S. Latino Ministry at Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry, was a little girl living in El Paso, Texas, she remembers looking across the border from the United States into Mexico where she could see the city of Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico.  Each time she looked across the border she was amazed at the huge contrast – that of the impoverished, dry, brown Juarez from her middle class neighborhood in El Paso, Texas.  It isn’t but 10 miles between Juarez and El Paso- almost a miracle in itself that something can be so close and yet so different and so many worlds apart. 

Both places hold sentiments for her – in 1912 her paternal grandfather Pablo Nava Pineda migrated from Juarez to El Paso, Texas, and she lived in El Paso.  Some of her family members remained in Juarez – and it became the tradition of her family to go to church every Sunday and then travel to Juarez to have dinner with relatives.

“My parents are faithful Catholics and we did lots of ministry in the church when I was a kid growing up and that captured my imagination.”
Her mother Raquel M Pineda was actively involved in the literacy program in Juarez; and helped implement programs that teach the Juarez women how to develop a trade.
Her first real message from God was when she was six years old and she asked God to give her a baby sister.  Her mother was pregnant with her fourth child and Pineda-Madrid was the only girl.
            “ I remember praying and praying that I would have a sister.  Three days before my birthday – my sister Michelle was born.  I felt that it was God’s birthday present for me.  My sister was the first symbol for me of God’s answering incredible prayer.”
Pineda-Madrid remembers seeing the Mormons riding their bicycles in her El Paso neighborhood, talking to anyone who would listen about their Mormon faith.
            “I was very impressed that they would dedicate years of their life to the ministry and I thought, wow I want to do something like that in my Catholic tradition.”
When she was 17, Mother Theresa came to El Paso, Texas to speak about the circumstances of the people in Juarez and what was going on in Mexico in general.  At the time Pineda-Madrid was attending El Paso’s Loretto Academy, where many of her classmates resided in Juarez. 

            “She had a profound effect on me.”
Nancy moved to Juarez, Mexico where she lived as a missionary for one year.  It was here that she asked herself questions with great intensity: “What does it mean for someone like me to believe in God?  How is it that I can believe in God on these situations of wealth and they can believe in God on these situations of poverty?”
By this time she knew God called her to be in the ministry, to minister to the Latinos in the Roman Catholic faith and service.

“I’m a Mexican American and Roman Catholic and I wanted to be able to write, do research, speak theologically, and publish works that would help bring the understanding of the Latina Catholic experience.”

Juarez was already known to have deep poverty, lack of justice, and lack of law and order, but on a hot day in January 23, 1993, when the first body was found – that of Alma Chavira Farel, – Juarez became an even more dark and evil place. 
Alma Chavira Farel, age 13, told her mother she was going for a short walk, but she never returned.   Her mother called the authorities, but nothing was done.  After 14 days, around the first week of February 1993, her body was found naked, in a field, where she had been thrown from a moving vehicle.  She had been brutally raped, sodomized, and strangled to death.  Ever since girls and women have been found dead, on average one body per week, even now, 20 years later. 

There are theories of who are committing these crimes and why:  organ harvesters; cult members; drug cartels; sex trafficking; domestic violence; serial killings; officials within the Mexican government;  individuals paying off officials to be quiet;  producers of snuff films; or simply men who hate women.
There is not one reason for women to be killed it is far too simplistic and an inaccurate reading.  There are numerous sources involved in this – a combination of all things together creating this.”
All agree that a feminicide is taking place and that the greatest instigator of this feminicide is the 1993 implementation of the North American Fair Trade Agreement.  NAFTA removed most barriers to trade and investment among the United States, Canada, and Mexico. 
The idea for NAFTA actually began with President Ronald Reagan and in 1984, Congress passed the Trade and Tariff Act, giving the President the authority to negotiate free trade agreement; giving Congress the power to approve or disapprove President Reagan’s decisions.  In 1988, Canadian Prime Minster Brian Mulroney and President Reagan signed the Canada-U.S. Free Trade agreement.   On December 17, 1992 President George H.W. Bush, Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, and Canadian Prime Minister Mulroney signed NAFTA.  On November 20, 1993 The United State Senate approved it by 60 to 38, and three days later, on December 8, 1993 President Bill Clinton signed it into law, which would not go into effect until January 1, 1994. 

The business owners take advantage of low labor cost, ($4.21 per day per worker), and as a result individuals are seeking jobs in much greater number; the factories preferring to pay for female workers instead of male because female are easier to exploit.  Women are now no longer the housewife, or dependent upon the male. 
The male nuance turns to that of anger, revenge, and a feeling of superiority now being lost.  As a result there is a backlash, a tension that gets created.  And the tension is ongoing – some of the men in these relationships can be violent to their wives or girlfriends because they adapt the same view as the authorities in Juarez who hold no value on these women’s lives.  The mentality or lack of humanity dealt with these women is the culprit – the men beholding to this mentality.”
There are hundreds of factories (maquiladoras) in Juarez, some being owned and conducted by American companies such as:  Ford, Fox Conn, Del Inc, General Motors, Johnson & Johnson, Delhi Automotive; Scientific Atlanta, Lear; Siemens, and TECMA itself has 17 plants in Juarez.

 “These companies have not taken responsibility for what’s going on in the community.  I’m not saying that the manufacturers themselves are responsible for violence against women directly.  In many cases you could argue that they actually are hurt by it because Juarez has become one of the most damaging cities.”
The NAFTA has also made it easier for drug cartels to conduct their business, bringing billions of dollars worth of drugs across the United States-Mexico borders.   Each shipment of drugs that crosses the border without detection calls for the drug cartel tradition – that of raping and killing girls and women; and cutting off their left nipples as a mementos.  There are also several drug cartels that are in constant civil war to take control of certain regions in Mexico, one of which is Juarez.    

“They create a climate and culture of violence.  It is a billion dollar industry in Juarez so the influx of money is phenomenal.  There are billions of dollars tied up in the drug industry on the streets in the city of Juarez that can fundamentally change all kinds of dynamics in the city.”
In 1995, when the victims were christened The Daughters of Juarez, and when it was agreed that feminicide was occurring in Juarez, Pineda-Madrid learned of the Daughters of Juarez.   
 “I first learned it through colleagues at the University of San Diego.  My family also lived in El Paso so I started hearing about in the late part of the 1990s and it started to become more visibly known by newspapers; journalists on both sides of the border.  The New York Times and NPR both had done stories on what was going on in Juarez.”
Her idea of writing a book about the Daughters of Juarez occurred in 2006, while she was teaching at Boston College, and attending the seminar “Social Suffering” offered by M. Shawn Copeland.  In her book SUFFERING + SALVATION IN CIUDAD JUAREZ, Pineda-Madrid writes:  “The idea of social suffering haunted me for weeks and months and eventually led me to understand more deeply the evil transpiring in Juarez.  In so many ways Shawn pushed me and supported me through my journey with this project.  At roughly the same time, Maria Pilar Aquino also kept encouraging me to write about the feminicide in Juarez.  Without her clear sense of my ability to bring this book into being, it would not have come about.”
It took her three years to write the book; the first two while teaching full time at Boston University; and the third year she took a leave of absence to focus totally on the book.   

 “The way I work is that I rethink the entire project so that it is shaped according to what I was going through at that particular time.  I am writing it so that I work in a more “present day” alliteration.  So it goes through multiple drafts.  The manuscript was the seventh or eight drafts.  I cut the equivalent of about five-to-six pages per chapter.”
One of the most frequent questions Pineda-Madrid is asked is if she actually interviewed any of the family members of the Daughters of Juarez.  She did not interview any of the family members of the victims and instead focused her research only on the journalists and social scientists that completed the interviews.
“I’m not trained as a social scientist but my background is theologian – to be able to take the stories and to understand the experience between extreme suffering – and to think it through in terms of what we believe – in terms of faith in God and our understanding of sin and salvation from a perspective of understanding of God and a relationship with God.”

SUFFERING + SALVATION IN CIUDAD JUAREZ was published in 2011, and its main premise is the need for an individual to not only have an individual-type salvation, but a society-type salvation as well, where individuals become interrelated with one another and through that interrelationship, become saved within the communities the individual exists in. This type of society salvation, in order to be fully effective, must be supported and actively participated by all parts of community:  business, religious, social communities.  When a certain component of community does not participate in this salvation, it instead helps create an environment of violence – such as this feminicide in Juarez.   
“The book covers the worlds that we used to live in; the world we live in now; and the importance of each individual gathering together with other individuals and as a whole claim responsibility where responsibility is due, and outrage where outrage is due.”
An example of social salvation is the Daughters of Juarez and the community that is expressing its outrage, even in the midst of danger.  Family members and friends of the Daughters of Juarez place themselves in danger by protesting the way the officials on all levels of government have so called “handled” this feminicide that has been going on for 20 years. 

We find in the women that are protesting the horrific brutalization and the ways that they are practicing this resistance helps us to see God’s grace that is active and extremely profound and a very real response to the evil.”
The mothers in particular who are protesting are experiencing a salvation already and a salvation yet to come both on individual and society terms.   
“Many of the people who are resisting are people who have lost their own daughters and place their own lives at risk.  They know it will not bring aback their daughters.  They do it because they believe in a community and do it for other women so they don’t lose their daughters.  They are doing it for generations to come and they believe we need to create a world much more just and more humane.”

The human rights activists who have been assassinated because of his/her support on this feminicide will not be felt tomorrow, or even the next day; but their actions and sacrifice provide social salvation for generations to come; and provide a coming into wholeness to these women.
Wholeness can not be strictly defined in individual terms.  I have my family, my community, the city I interact with.  I have communion to generations that lived several hundred years ago and several hundred years into the future.  I will catch glimpses of this coming into wholeness – but I will not know its fullness until the end of time.”
According to Pineda-Madrid this wholeness will not be completed until after death, when one spends eternity with the Trinity of God.   And this salvation is not exclusionary and is available, yes, even to the perpetrators that continue to butcher these girls and women.
Each daughter is Hispanic, and from the age ranges of 10 years to 35 years old.  Most of them were uneducated, poor and in desperate need of jobs; yet each still had dreams and goals in life.

These daughters were beaten, sodomized, vaginally raped, strangled, stabbed, shot, or showed signs of torture – some of these women have been tortured from a few hours to a few weeks; their bodies thrown like a piece of garbage out in the open, for all to see. 
Now, pink crosses are displayed throughout Juarez, specifically where a victim’s body has been found; and if the name is known, the name of the victim is painted black her individual cross, as a testimony of this feminicide that has been occurring for over twenty years. 
In 2002, the anti-feminicide coalition “Not One More” installed a large pink cross at the Pasa del Norte Bridge, the main passage between Juarez and El Paso.  This cross along with the other crosses than continue to increase in number as the days pass are an ongoing protest not only against the violence done to these precious girls and women; but to the severe disregard the local, state, and national governments and other entities tauntingly display.

Catholic Moral Theologian Nichole M Flores described the crosses’ message and power on her website
“These crosses remember the lives lost to the hate-filled vie for control between organized crime, government factions, and other economic interests.  Further, the crosses are a way of reclaiming the territory marked by the drug cartels, dislodging their sign of death with Christ’s sign of solidarity in suffering and eternal life.”
According to Pineda-Madrid, at least 600 bodies have been found, but she believes the real number is much higher, and could actually be into the thousands of women – many missing who have yet to be found.   

“You can find wildly different numbers on this – some say this is 375 and the other end people put at a thousand.  Our ability to get an accurate account is not possible.  Our investigators and journalists have themselves been threatened; and our ability to get accurate information has diminished in the last few years.  The perpetrators who are still able to commit these horrific horrors –do not want this accurate information available, which makes the counting difficult.  There are mass graves (and) bodies have been badly composed.  Resources for forensics to go in and make accurate body counts are not available.  The authorities themselves don’t want it to be accurate.  There are a lot of factors of why we can’t get a clear body count.”
More important than the body count is the individual girl/ woman who is the Daughter Of Juarez.  These girls and women are no longer victims nor are they inferior in any society, but rather they are examples of the only theology that works – that of love through God The Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  Boston College’s Margaret O’Brien Flatley Professor of Catholic Theology Roberto S Goizueta said it best when he wrote in Pineda-Madrid’s introduction of SUFFERING + SALVAITON IN CIUDAD JUAREZ: 

            As in the Gospels themselves, where the first evangelizers were the women at the tomb, so will the women of Ciudad Juarez be for us the unlikely witnesses to the Good News.”
            Email Pineda-Madrid at for information.  

Photograph Copyright Information
Photo 1.  Secrets In The Sand The Young Women of Juarez by White Pine Press, June 2006.  Public Domain.

Photo 2.  Dr. Nancy Pineda-Madrid.  Public Domain

Photo 3.  Satellite picture of the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez international metropolitan region on the Mexico-US Border.  Public Domain.

Photo 4.  Map of El Paso and Juarez.  Public Domain.

Photo 5.   Mother Theresa.  Public Domain

Photo 6.  Dr. Nancy Pineda-Madrid.  Public Domain.

Photo 7.  Urban Exhibit protesting about the women in Juarez.  Public Domain.

Photo 8.  The signing of NAFTA, December 17, 1992.  Standing from left to right:  Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, President George H.W. Bush, and Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.  Public Domain.  

Photo 9.  Foxxconn sign of factory in Juarez.  Public Domain.

Photo 10.  Mexico-Cartel Influence Map/Graph.  Public Domain. 

Photo 11.  SUFFERING + SALVATION IN CIUDAD JUAREZ by Fortress Press.  May 20, 2011.  Public Domain.

Photo 12.  Dr. Nancy Pineda-Madrid.  Public Domain.

Photo 13.  2007 protests by some victims' families demanding punishment for the killers.  Public Domain.

Photo 14.  Women, with white over faces to display mourning, protest the hundreds of unsolved murders and disappearances of females in the border city of Ciudad Juarez.  Public Domain. 

Photo 15.  Photograph of some of the victims.  Public Domain.

Photo 16.  Pink crosses with known victims' names.  Public Domain.

Photo 17.  Pink crosses of unknown victims.  Public Domain.

Photo 18.  Painting by Maurice Denis.  Public Domain.

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