WBEZ | Ciudad Juárez http://www.wbez.org/tags/ciudad-ju%C3%A1rez Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en From Mexico to the Midwest, a heroin supply chain delivers http://www.wbez.org/news/mexico-midwest-heroin-supply-chain-delivers-109320 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/two-cities_1.jpg" style="border-width: 0px; border-style: solid;" title="El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/123570504&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>If you try to picture a drug trafficker, you will never think of someone like Juan Carlos González.</p><p>He is tall but dumpy. He is 31 years old but his face is so smooth I find myself wondering whether he ever has had to shave. He can puff up and put on a street voice but comes off like a school kid who has been bullied.</p><p>González agreed to meet me in El Paso, Texas, at his lawyer&rsquo;s office, less than a mile from the Mexican border. González, by the way, is not his real name. He spoke on condition we not use it.</p><p>He said he had lived in the El Paso area since age 3, when his mother moved the family from Odessa, his father&rsquo;s hometown, four hours west. &ldquo;My dad was never around,&rdquo; he said. His mom, who was a nurse then a gym teacher, raised him.</p><p>His route into the drug trade is well-traveled. He dropped out of school in 11th grade and started smoking marijuana, he said. Stuck in a fast-food job at a mall, González gravitated toward a certain co-worker.</p><p>&ldquo;I used to smoke with him and I used to always see him in fancy cars &mdash; a BMW, a big old truck, lifted up,&rdquo; he said. It was obvious his friend was working in narcotics. &ldquo;Get a car at that age? I wanted into that life,&rdquo; González told me.</p><p>He turned to his uncle, a marijuana dealer, who helped him into the business. &ldquo;I would bag it up and sell it to my friends,&rdquo; González&nbsp;said.</p><p>Over time, the amounts got bigger and the drugs got harder. As González kept getting in deeper, he knew he was betraying his mother. &ldquo;She&rsquo;s been there for me through all my troubles,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Here is where his story becomes less familiar to anyone who did not grow up along the border. El Paso has four bridges to Ciudad Juárez, a Mexican city where kids such as González would go to party. &ldquo;You would be able to drink until 7 or 8 the next morning,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>He found out it was much cheaper in Juárez to buy the drugs he was dealing. And it wasn&rsquo;t hard to cross back into the United States with the products. &ldquo;Coke and all that, with a girl or anybody, and just stash it in your pocket or anything, like you were drunk, and get it over,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Every time, every weekend, that&rsquo;s what we would do.&rdquo;</p><p>The Mexican city was also a great place to network. &ldquo;Say you and I are partying in Juárez at a club and we&rsquo;re cool and we see each other every time,&rdquo; González said. &ldquo;And then we start talking and, if we end up smoking, then it comes out that you have a cousin up in Atlanta, Dallas or Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>González was on his way to building a freight network that fed Chicago a range of drugs, including heroin.</p><p><strong>MOST OF CHICAGO&rsquo;S HEROIN</strong> comes from Mexico, according to narcotics authorities,&nbsp;and the crucial entry point is El Paso.</p><p>&ldquo;The reason I&rsquo;m telling you that is our cases still go back and forth&rdquo; between Chicago and El Paso, said Jack Riley, special agent in charge of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration division that covers most of Illinois and four other Midwest states. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s how we know.&rdquo;</p><p>When I visited El Paso and Ciudad Juárez myself, I kept hearing a similar line but from the supplier perspective: If you want to sell drugs throughout the Midwest, you need Chicago.</p><p>I also saw that the drug demand up north had brought a flood of cheap heroin to Juárez, the last Mexican city along Chicago&rsquo;s supply chain. Signs of the heroin trade were all around Juárez&rsquo;s central area.</p><p>In a busy market district, I saw a dozen addicts pacing near a dark shop, waiting for a heroin retailer to come out with their midday fix. When she finally emerged, the addicts converged on her like zombies.</p><p>Within a couple miles were several shooting galleries &mdash; what Mexicans call <em>picaderos</em>. I visited one, a dusty outdoor space between two cinder-block homes. There was no ceiling except for a few wood planks and old blankets. There was no place to sit except for a filthy cushion and an old couch covered by a dirty blanket.</p><p>The gallery did have two &ldquo;doctors,&rdquo; themselves heroin addicts. They lacked medical training but worked around-the-clock to help customers with injections. (A jones can bring trembling that makes it hard to shoot up.)</p><p>Within 10 minutes of my arrival, a 24-year-old woman in an orange baseball cap entered the gallery and handed one of the doctors her dose, roughly a quarter gram wrapped in foil. The heroin was dark and gummy, the size of a pea. The doctor mixed it with water over a match flame to melt it down. Then he filled a syringe &mdash; a clean one provided by a local health promoter.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/JuarezShootingGallery-big.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left;" title="A ‘doctor’ at a Ciudad Juárez shooting gallery charges customers 10 pesos — or the equivalent in heroin — for help injecting the drug. (WBEZ/Luis Perea)" /></div><p>The customer directed the doctor to a vein on the back of her hand. First he drew blood into the syringe, confirming the needle had hit the target. Then he pressed the syringe&rsquo;s plunger, sending the heroin on its way.</p><p>The doctors helped three customers in a half hour. They charged each 10 pesos (about $0.75) or the equivalent in heroin. They told me a standard dose cost 50 pesos (less than $4) from any of several retailers within a couple blocks.</p><p>A street gang supplied by a drug cartel controls the sales in that part of Juárez. The gang also earns money by smuggling drugs to El Paso for distribution elsewhere in the United States.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/JuarezGangMember1.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: right; height: 240px; width: 250px;" title="A gang member in central Ciudad Juárez, the Mexican border city, says he uses a backpack to smuggle heroin into El Paso, Texas. (WBEZ/Luis Perea)" />I tracked down a mid-level member of the gang. We met in his kitchen. As I fumbled with my equipment, he stood still and silent in the corner. At least, I assumed that was him. He was wearing a hood and cloth mask.</p><p>I showed him I was just recording sound &mdash; no pictures or names. He agreed to sit down and take the mask off. He told me he was 34 and that he quit school in 4th grade.</p><p>&ldquo;My father was the one who started selling drugs,&rdquo; he said, adding that the man was killed as cartels swept away independent operators in Juárez.</p><p>The young man&rsquo;s gang aligned with one of the cartels. Now, he said, he spends a lot of time around a safe house &ldquo;packing drugs in backpacks and hiding them in cars.&rdquo;</p><p>Once in a while, he said, he had served as a mule himself. He said he had carried backpacks loaded with heroin to an El Paso stash house.</p><p><strong>THAT JOB IS NOT AS HARD</strong> as you may think. Heroin is not bulky like marijuana. By weight, it sells for more than twice the price of cocaine. An amount worth thousands of dollars fits in a pocket, shoe or bra. Multimillion-dollar loads turn up in suitcases, dashboards, bumpers, even drive shafts.</p><p>&ldquo;There is some sneaky stuff,&rdquo; said González, back in his attorney&rsquo;s office in El Paso, describing cars and trucks rigged with hidden compartments that open using magnets and secret levers. &ldquo;There is some Inspector Gadget stuff there.&rdquo;</p><p>With millions of pedestrian and vehicle crossings from Juárez every year, U.S. authorities find just a small fraction of the drugs.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/PasoDelNorte-square1.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Cars and trucks wait in a two-hour line to reach the U.S. checkpoint on Paso del Norte, one of four bridges linking El Paso, Texas, to Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. Millions of vehicles enter the United States on those bridges each year, making it difficult for authorities to find hidden narcotics. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" /></div></div></div><p>González found opportunities. &ldquo;You meet truckers, party, drink and you just ask them right there: &lsquo;Hey, you know what? Would you like to take a load? I&rsquo;ll pay you this much money.&rsquo; &rdquo;</p><p>He worked up to bigger loads. That brought him closer to the leaders of a cartel. He says he worked mainly in cocaine and marijuana.</p><p>González&nbsp;moved other products too: &ldquo;They would call me and tell me, &lsquo;Hey, I have 10 keys of heroin going to Chicago. Can you get them for me?&rsquo; I would be like, &lsquo;Yes.&rsquo; &rdquo;</p><p>The retail price for that much smack, if pure, could exceed $4 million, according to data from the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy.</p><p>González&rsquo;s truckers would carry legal cargo as well, so sometimes could not bring the heroin all the way to where the cartel bosses had ordered it. &ldquo;Say they wanted it in Maywood, but the trucker&rsquo;s route went to Kankakee,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>González would have to line up more personnel. &ldquo;You got to worry about who is going to hold it for you and who is going transport it for you,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>González directed one busy driver to acquire an 18-wheeler with a phony load so it would be ready to roll anywhere. &ldquo;I told him, &lsquo;Buy your own truck and buy your own trailer and buy yourself a whole trailer of some bullshit-ass fenders,&rsquo; &rdquo; he said.</p><p>González&rsquo;s business flourished, but there was no way to eliminate risks. &ldquo;You got to know who you are dealing with,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;If the person gets caught, he can rat you out.&rdquo;</p><p>For truckers who got arrested, González said he would arrange the defense lawyer and pay the tab if he &ldquo;liked the person and he was really going to keep his mouth shut.&rdquo;</p><p>Snitches were not the biggest hazards. If a load went missing and González could not convince the cartel that cops had seized it, he would have to pay for it himself, he said. And if he did not have the money, he said, &ldquo;I would get killed.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>THE SUPPLY CHAIN WAS NOT</strong> always so dangerous. &ldquo;The chain dates back to the 1920s at least,&rdquo; University of Texas at El Paso anthropologist Howard Campbell pointed out.</p><p>For decades, the main product was heroin. Family-run businesses cultivated and processed the opium poppy a few hundred miles south in a mountainous region spanning the states of Chihuahua, Durango and Sinaloa.</p><p>Many heroin loads converged on Torreón, a city on the main highway north. From there, Campbell said, &ldquo;the drugs would be trucked up, or driven up in a car, to Ciudad Juárez.&rdquo;</p><p>Until the mid-1970s, the Juárez heroin trade was controlled by one person &mdash; a woman named Ignacia Jasso la Viuda de González, better known as La Nacha.</p><div><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ignacia%20jasso%20vdaCROP.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: right; height: 294px; width: 250px;" title="Ignacia Jasso la Viuda de González, photographed during a Ciudad Juárez booking in 1942, controlled Mexico's main heroin corridor for decades. (Photo courtesy of Bob Chessey)" /></div><p>&ldquo;She would obtain supplies of opium and heroin and sell them locally in Juárez and to American and other traffickers that would bring them into the United States &mdash; to Albuquerque, Kansas City, St. Louis and Chicago,&rdquo; Campbell said. &ldquo;She ran this business for almost 50 years with very little violence.&rdquo;</p><p>Things have changed. &ldquo;The supplies have increased over time as the number of heroin addicts has increased,&rdquo; Campbell pointed out. The product line, meanwhile, has expanded to include drugs from South America and Asia.</p><p>&ldquo;These businesses that were formerly run by families or individuals are now run by quasi-corporate entities called drug cartels,&rdquo; Campbell said. &ldquo;The violence in Mexico has skyrocketed in the last 10-12 years as the businesses have become more competitive and new cartels have emerged.&rdquo;</p><p>The most powerful cartel in Juárez these days is Sinaloa, whose name comes from one of those heroin-producing states. U.S. authorities say the Sinaloa Cartel supplies most of the heroin consumed in Chicago.</p><p>The people in charge of hauling the product &mdash; folks like González &mdash; don&rsquo;t typically have to line up the buyers on the Chicago end. That is the cartel&rsquo;s job.</p><p>And if you think the big buyers are street gangs, think again. An El Paso man who helped manage U.S. logistics for the Sinaloa Cartel told me the top Chicago wholesalers are middle-class business people.</p><p>He recalled signing some on: &ldquo;My cartel associate told me that he needed to meet them in person before we sent the dope up to Chicago. So they flew over, stayed at a hotel. After they were there a few hours in El Paso, I drove them to Juárez, to a nice restaurant to talk to my cartel associate. I translated for them &mdash; how many pounds of this or pounds of that they can move.&rdquo;</p><p>The former logistics manager said the meeting went without a hitch. &ldquo;My cartel associate liked these guys from Chicago and he had a friend that owned a strip club,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;So they took them out to the club, and got them four girls and they went to hotels and everybody got laid there.&rdquo;</p><p>There were benefits, yes, and there were commissions. González said he rarely managed more than three loads a month and still earned as much as $360,000 a year. &ldquo;I thought I was bad-ass,&rdquo; he said.</p><p><strong>THEN GONZALEZ GOT BUSTED</strong> and all the money seemed trivial, he said. I agreed not to report specifics about his legal situation except that he served most of a three-year sentence in a federal prison more than a thousand miles from El Paso.</p><p>González told his mother &mdash; the gym teacher who always stood by him &mdash; that she could not visit. He said he did not want her hard-earned money spent on the airfare.</p><p>Once he got out, though, he had to face her. &ldquo;When I saw her from the time I was in, she had aged,&rdquo; he said, burying his face in his jacket and weeping. &ldquo;I felt bad. That&rsquo;s what did it.&rdquo;</p><p>If he went to prison again, he said, &ldquo;she would lose it.&rdquo;</p><p>González told me he is starting a trucking company that is above-board. But it could be almost impossible for him to stay at the border and work in the freight business legally.</p><p>He has the logistics experience but also the felony-narcotics record. And his cartel contacts will not forget about him anytime soon. He may have no way out&nbsp;of the drug-supply chain.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1" target="_blank">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud" target="_blank">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1" target="_blank">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://plus.google.com/111079509307132701769" rel="me" target="_blank">Google+</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1" target="_blank">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 06 Dec 2013 09:03:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/mexico-midwest-heroin-supply-chain-delivers-109320 Ground Shifters: Women and girls in Bolivia and Mexico struggle for justice and rights http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-12-27/ground-shifters-women-and-girls-bolivia-and-mexico-struggle-justice-and- <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-December/2011-12-19/jean.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Today, <em>Worldview</em> presents part of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-12/jean-friedman-rudovsky-chronicles-%E2%80%98women-warriors%E2%80%99-ciudad-ju%C3%A1rez-and-bol">Jean Friedman-Rudovsky’s</a> series on women and girls in Bolivia and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico called <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/ground-shifters-stories-women-changing-unseen-worlds" target="_blank"><em>Ground Shifters: Stories of Women Changing Unseen Worlds</em></a>. It was part of an ongoing collaboration between WBEZ and the <a href="http://www.colum.edu/Academics/Institute_for_the_Study_of_Women_and_Gender_in_the_Arts_and_Media/">Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women &amp; Gender in the Arts &amp; Media</a> as part of the project "Gender, Human Rights, Leadership, and Media".</p><p>First, in the Mexican border town of Ciudad Juárez, close to 1,500 women were disappeared over a decade.<span style="font-style: italic;"> </span>We'll hear <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-13/ground-shifters-%E2%80%98justice-buried%E2%80%99-ciudad-ju%C3%A1rez-91917" target="_blank">a profile of Marisela Ortiz</a>, an activist who’s spent years fighting for justice for families of what's known as "femicide". Then, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-14/ground-shifters-%E2%80%98locked-organized%E2%80%99-la-paz-bolivia-91979" target="_blank">we travel</a> to a women’s prison in La Paz, Bolivia. This prison is a miniature city—with shops, businesses, a school and even a union. We find out how its inmates exercise their rights to improve their communal home. Finally, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-16/%E2%80%98ground-shifters%E2%80%99-%E2%80%98girls-gauntlets%E2%80%99-%E2%80%93-children-unionizing-bolivia-92051" target="_blank">we meet Ana, Brigida and Noemí</a>, young girls in La Paz, Bolivia who are proud to work. In fact, they've unionized, along with more than one hundred thousand child workers across Latin America.</p></p> Tue, 27 Dec 2011 18:01:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-12-27/ground-shifters-women-and-girls-bolivia-and-mexico-struggle-justice-and- Worldview 12.27.11 http://www.wbez.org/episode/worldview-122711 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/episode/images/2011-december/2011-12-27/girls-front-page.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Today, <em>Worldview</em> presents installments from <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/ground-shifters-stories-women-changing-unseen-worlds" target="_blank"><em>Ground Shifters: Stories of Women Changing Unseen Worlds</em></a>, a series about women and girls in Bolivia and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico by <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-12/jean-friedman-rudovsky-chronicles-%E2%80%98women-warriors%E2%80%99-ciudad-ju%C3%A1rez-and-bol">Jean Friedman-Rudovsky</a>. It is part of an ongoing collaboration between WBEZ and the <a href="http://www.colum.edu/Academics/Institute_for_the_Study_of_Women_and_Gender_in_the_Arts_and_Media/">Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women &amp; Gender in the Arts &amp; Media</a>. Close to 1,500 women in Ciudad Juárez have been disappeared in the last decade. Friedman-Rudovsky <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-13/ground-shifters-%E2%80%98justice-buried%E2%80%99-ciudad-ju%C3%A1rez-91917" target="_blank">profiles Marisela Ortiz</a>, an activist who’s spent years fighting for families of what's known as "femicide." And, <em>Ground Shifters </em>examines a women’s prison in La Paz, Bolivia that functions almost like a miniature city. It has shops, businesses, a school and even a union. Finally, Friedman-Rudovsky<a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-12/jean-friedman-rudovsky-chronicles-%E2%80%98women-warriors%E2%80%99-ciudad-ju%C3%A1rez-and-bol"> meets </a><a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-16/%E2%80%98ground-shifters%E2%80%99-%E2%80%98girls-gauntlets%E2%80%99-%E2%80%93-children-unionizing-bolivia-92051" target="_blank">Ana, Brigida and Noemí</a>, young girls in La Paz, Bolivia who are among the 100,000 unionized child workers in Latin America.</p></p> Tue, 27 Dec 2011 15:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode/worldview-122711 International community pressures Ciudad Juárez government http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-15/international-community-pressures-ciudad-ju%C3%A1rez-government-92038 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-September/2011-09-15/doug.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Today, human rights contributor Doug Cassel, from the <a href="http://law.nd.edu/center-for-civil-and-human-rights/" target="_blank">Center of Civil and Human Rights</a> at Notre Dame Law School, recalls the tragic history of Ciudad Juárez. For the past three decades, this town on Mexico’s border with the U.S. has been an epicenter for drug violence and female abductions.</p><p>Doug tells says the harsh attention from the international community has forced Ciudad Juárez’s government to better protect its citizens, especially women.</p></p> Thu, 15 Sep 2011 16:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-15/international-community-pressures-ciudad-ju%C3%A1rez-government-92038 ‘Ground Shifters’: Collective healing brings hope to Ciudad Juárez http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-15/%E2%80%98ground-shifters%E2%80%99-collective-healing-brings-hope-ciudad-ju%C3%A1rez-92037 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-September/2011-09-15/Erika and Ernesto.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>This week, Jean Friedman-Rudovsky presents a five-part series featuring stories of women and girls in Bolivia and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. It's called <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/ground-shifters-stories-women-changing-unseen-worlds" target="_blank">Ground Shifters: Stories of Women Changing Unseen Worlds.</a></em></p><p><em>Today, we revisit Ciudad Juárez, now ground zero of a drug war that’s killed more than 6,000 people in the last three years. The carnage has left an entire population of families steeped in grief. We get an intimate look at one young woman who recently lost the love of her life. She tells Friedman-Rudovsky how her emotional wounds have helped others to heal.</em></p><p>JEAN: Meet Erika Salazar and Ernesto, her three year old son.</p><p>JEAN [with ERIKA and SON mixed in]: Since last June, this is their daily ritual: Mother asks son: where’s daddy? Ernesto points to the sky. And you love him a lot? Yes, he says. And where is he watching you from, making sure you are alright? Up there, answers the little boy with the slight lisp, eyes floating up towards the heavens.</p><p>ERIKA: I found out watching the TV news; I thought I saw his body. So I went to where the news said the killing happened and no one was there. I looked for him all over the city and then just as I was heading home I saw the car he had been driving. It was full of blood and the windows were shattered. In that moment, I knew it was him I had seen. So I went to the morgue and he was there. The district attorney hasn’t investigated it at all, just like with many other cases.&nbsp;</p><p>JEAN: Erika and Ernesto lives in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico homicide capital of the world, where thousands have died from the years-long “War on Drugs” that many see spiraling out of control. An increasing number of politicians, experts and activists now wonder if the billions of dollars spent were worth the human cost. Recently we’ve learned about “Operation Fast and Furious,” a scheme through which the US government intentionally allowed thousands of guns to flow into Mexico in order to track their sale to violent drug cartels.<br> Erika’s husband was shot, assaulted and killed for his cash, she says. 29 years-old Loving father of three.</p><p>ERIKA: Era los 24 horas estando en la casa. Llorando, sin dormir…</p><p>JEAN: At first, I was just in the house 24 hours a day, crying, not eating, not sleeping. Not even showering, and not paying any attention to my kids, she remembers. But then she recalls saying to her self: Erika, enough. You have three kids and don’t have the luxury of falling down.</p><p>JEAN: So instead of falling, Erica landed here.</p><p>JEAN: Welcome to SABIC, Salud y Bienestar Comunitario, or Communal Health and Wellbeing, where dance therapy class has just let out.</p><p>DORA: Aquí se llama Salud y Bienestar Comunitario, es una asociación civil, estamos en la zona poniente de ciudad Juárez…</p><p>JEAN: That’s the center’s Director, Dora Davila. Dora explains that residents of this periphery neighborhood created the center eight years ago.</p><p>DORA: This center is completely community run. It’s based on holistic healing. Here we work with an all-encompassing concept of health. Health as harmony, as equilibrium, as life—emtional, social, environment and body. We have a wide range of services including floral therapy, reiki, massage, group therapy, dance. We have a very clear concept of gender too—meaning the reconstruction of women’s lives, particularly now as this relates to the current situation of generalized violence in this city.&nbsp;</p><p>JEAN: The small building perched on a hill, overlooks the rest of the city.&nbsp; I can understand how Erika must have felt first coming here. The all-glass entrance is filled with plants and sunlight pores in. Children amuse themselves with Legos as their moms drink coffee and prepare for the day.</p><p>ERIKA: Yo empecé a trabajar aquí en SABIC por medio de las terapias…</p><p>JEAN: Erika says her neighbor, who had also lost a loved one to violence, brought her here for the first time to attend the grief support group. She then involved with dance classes, reiki, and as a peer counselor for other women. Now she works here as an administrative assistant.</p><p>ERIKA: My life changed completely. I used to be a housewife and I depended on my husband for everything. Now I am rediscovering myself as a woman, as a worker, as a mother because I am using skills that I didn’t even know I had or that I never put to use. I arrived here destroyed, with my self-esteem on the floor. You could say I arrived here dead inside.</p><p>JEAN: It’s hard to reconcile Erika’s reflection of her past self with the woman sitting in front of me. She now has a quiet grace, the serenity of a survivor who is at peace with what life has thrown at her, and the strength of a warrior who knows the battle is not yet over. This is not uncommon in Juarez, notes Dora Davila.</p><p>DORA: To be a woman in Juárez is like being in a whirpool from which you can’t escape. It tires you. Women of Juarez are tired of the hours they work in the maquila, tired of living in fear of what will happen to their kids. We sometimes feel like our energy runs out and we aren’t sure where we’ll find enough to keep on. But also, being a woman in Juarez means very brave and very strong. Recently, there is a strong sense of solidarity. To be a woman in Juarez is to be all women of Juarez. All of us who are here say to ourselves “being in Juarez gives my life purpose.”</p><p>JEAN: On a recent morning, Erika and two other women gather for their weekly group therapy session. They sit on plastic chairs with bare feet resting on mats and rugs.</p><p>ERIKA: Ya saque saque su ropa, fue dificil, mucho mucho pero parece que ya..</p><p>JEAN: Erika lives with parents now that her husband is gone. In group therapy, she recounts her previous day. She spent the afternoon getting rid of her husband’s clothes and belongings. It was her first time back home since he died. It was hard, she says to the group. Very, very hard. Seeing all his things, she continues, made me feel like I had fallen again. But with she says her friends helped her move her emotions, from anger, to sadness and finally to relief.</p><p>The other women nod understanding Erika’s story in a way I can not. One, who asked me not to use her name, also lost her husband to the city’s escalating violence. She reflects on the struggle that has become that of so many Juarez women and how she like Erika has found a path forward.</p><p>ANONYMOUS WOMAN: There are so many women who are alone now. From the moment we lose our husbands we begin a constant challenge—trying to earn enough money from work and also becoming better mothers. We end up sacrificing part of ourselves. We dedicate all our time to work, to our kids, to the daily struggle of keeping our families going and the days pass into years. We are honest, dedicated working people and we have learned so much by being together with other women. We are better able to take on life’s challenges and to have a more positive attitude. The therapy helps us express our emotions and to move forward psychologically.&nbsp;</p><p>Despite this, it seems that such intense personal reflection is only for the truly strong. The group has dwindled over time, from 16 to four.</p><p>ERIKA: The moment we start to touch on the hard stuff, you find ways to escape. We dont really want to work that hard stuff. People think that pain is normal, that it’s natural, that if you lose a loved one then you have to suffer because if you stop suffering it means you no longer love that person. That’s not the way it should be. Let that person go and rest in peace. Don’t wait for time to heal your pain because that only makes it worse. The sooner you start to heal the better.</p><p>JEAN: For this reason, Dora, Erika and the others spread out around Juárez, offering peer counseling and therapy to women who can’t get to the center. This collective experience is crucial for Erika.</p><p>ERIKA:&nbsp; Sharing the experiences of others who have gone through what you’ve lived helps to minimize your own suffering. You start find silver linings. For example when I sit down and talk with someone who has gone through what I have, sometimes it’s like I am that person on the listening end. The first time I tried peer counseling it was with a young woman like me. She had lost her husband a year ago before and she was totally destroyed, crying. By telling her “listen, chin up, be strong, everything happens for a reason,” it was like I was saying it to myself, almost like I was looking into a mirror and comforting myself too.</p><p>JEAN: Back at home, Erika gives little Ernesto a bath. She says they’ll probably stay with her parents longer than she first thought. She’s just not ready to go back to the home she shared with her husband. That’s how her life is right now, one day at a time.</p><p>ERIKA: I used to be a person that planned everything. I was the one, as they say, who built castles in the sky. But everything that happened made me realize that the only thing you have is this moment. We dont know what’s going to happen tomorrow. What happened to me helped me open my eyes and live everyday in the present.</p><p>JEAN: Erika’s life today feels almost like a life-after. There was something else before – love, joy, partnership – which she mourns but she knows she can not turn back the pages of time. Instead, she moves forward, without regret, present in her skin, in her space, in her city—unlike the quarter-million Juárez residents who’ve fled over the past four years in fear. Erika could have left too. Her three kids are all U.S. citizens. But, she says she and her children are Juarenses and they won’t be leave.</p><p>ERIKA: Juarez is not just violence. There are many good people, many people who receive you with open arms. There are many of us still here with the hope that this is going to change and we don’t let ourselves lose that hope. We are hard working people, we fight to make our lives better. We are united. We have faith our current situation will change. We are from here and this is where were will remain.</p><p>JEAN [with ERIKA and ERNESTO mixed in]: Ernesto stands on the couch. His tiny legs wobble as he tries to steady himself on the cushions. Erika kneels below. “Jump, Jump!,” she tells him. Don’t be afraid. He laughs and hesitates. For this three year old, the inches that separate him from the safety of his mom’s outstretched hands, must seem like a one story drop. “I’m right here,” Erika says. “I’ve got you.” Ernesto looks straight into her eyes and springs off the couch, right into her arms. I notice he’s got her full lips and smooth skin. His eyes are someone else’s.</p><p>ERIKA: Me amas? Hasta donde? Hasta donde esta tu papi? Es mucho verdad que sí?</p><p>JEAN: You love me? Erika asks. Yes, he answers. How much? He mumbles: I love you from here to where my daddy is up there.<br> [end Erika and Ernesto original audio]<br> &nbsp;</p><p><em>This series is part of an ongoing collaboration between WBEZ and the <a href="http://www.colum.edu/Academics/Institute_for_the_Study_of_Women_and_Gender_in_the_Arts_and_Media/" target="_blank">Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women &amp; Gender in the Arts &amp; Media</a> at Columbia College-Chicago called Gender, Human Rights, Leadership, and Media. The Institute develops projects with journalists, artists, human rights workers and activists to investigate global issues.</em></p></p> Thu, 15 Sep 2011 16:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-15/%E2%80%98ground-shifters%E2%80%99-collective-healing-brings-hope-ciudad-ju%C3%A1rez-92037 9.15.11 http://www.wbez.org/episode/91511 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/episode/images/2011-september/2011-09-15/greece1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Amidst concerns of a Greek default, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said they want Greece to remain in the EU. We talk about jittery markets and the prospect of a new world order with David Hale, founding chairman of <a href="http://www.davidhaleweb.com/" target="_blank">David Hale Global Economics</a>. Then, film contributor Milos Stehlik tells us what he saw at the 2011 <a href="http://www.telluridefilmfestival.org/" target="_blank">Telluride Film Festival</a>. And, in the next installmment of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/ground-shifters-stories-women-changing-unseen-worlds" target="_blank"><em>Ground Shifters</em></a>, we return to Ciudad Juárez, ground zero of a drug war that’s killed more than 6,000 people in the last three years. Reporter Jean Friedman-Rudovsky gets an intimate look into the life of one young woman who recently lost her husband. Lastly, human rights contributor <a href="http://law.nd.edu/people/faculty-and-administration/teaching-and-research-faculty/douglass-cassel/" target="_blank">Doug Cassel</a> recalls the tragic history of Ciudad Juárez and how international attention has forced the government to better protect women and girls.</p></p> Thu, 15 Sep 2011 14:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode/91511 Ground Shifters: ‘Justice Buried’ in Ciudad Juárez http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-13/ground-shifters-%E2%80%98justice-buried%E2%80%99-ciudad-ju%C3%A1rez-91917 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-September/2011-09-13/mexico.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Ciudad Juárez, Mexico gained notoriety in the 1990s for its epidemic of female abductions. Over a decade, close to 1,500 women were disappeared from the border town. Today, reporter Jean Friedman-Rudovsky profiles Marisela Ortiz, an activist who’s spent years in fighting for justice for families of what's known as femicide. <em>The story is part of a series on women and girls in Bolivia and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico called <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/ground-shifters-stories-women-changing-unseen-worlds" target="_blank">Ground Shifters: Stories of Women Changing Unseen Worlds. </a>The series is a collaboration between WBEZ and the <a href="http://www.colum.edu/Academics/Institute_for_the_Study_of_Women_and_Gender_in_the_Arts_and_Media/" target="_blank">Ellen Stone Belic Institute</a> for the Study of Women &amp; Gender in the Arts &amp; Media at Columbia College-Chicago. </em><em>Series Executive Producer, Steve Bynum. </em><em>Series Producer/Creative Advisor</em><em>, Jane Saks</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The bustling downtown centro of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico is deceptively festive. Stalls of bright clothes, dance music and colorful sweets line the plaza’s streets. They seem to mock the area’s history.</p><p>In 1993, women in Juárez started disappearing. Most vanished from here, the centro, abducted on their way to or from their night shifts at the maquiladoras, the city’s infamous mammoth factories that churn out cheap goods for US import. Often the women were on company transport buses. They were raped, tortured and killed; their bodies dumped on the city’s outskirts.</p><p>As of 2005, 600 victims had been found of what’s now known as femicide. Another 800 remain unaccounted for.</p><p>Marisela Ortiz says it all began when a student of her student Liliana Alejandra Garcia, went missing. Lilia’s mother, a teacher friend, sought Marisela’s help.</p><p>"At that time, we only focused on finding the girl and then seeking justice," says Marisela. "She had been raped by many men and then strangled to death. Her body appeared 8 days after its disappearence. We made our actions very public and so soon, other mothers and fathers with disappeared daughters asked us to help them in their search. Little by little because of this solidarity and cohesion among affected families, we decided to formalize our efforts. We officially began our organization in 2001—helping and supporting the femicide victims, and the sons and daughers who were orphaned when their mother was disppeared or killed."</p><p>The organization is called Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa. Marisela and co-founder Norma Andrande became the most well known anti-femicide campaigners in Juarez. Their tales inspired Hollywood movies and sparked worldwide human rights campaigns.</p><p>Marisela, a powerful presence with hair dyed auburn, has not stopped to rest since. She still works as a school counselor.</p><p>Her political routine? Take to the streets, talk to government authorities, press conferences and above all, she says, keep up constant pressure.</p><p>This may sound like standard activist fare. But remember, this is Ciudad Juarez: ground zero of the drug war — over 6,000 murders in the last three years, all supposedly drug-related.</p><p>But that’s not always the case, and being in the public spotlight means you are more likely to be consumed by the city’s tidal wave of violence.</p><p><strong>The costs of (not) speaking out</strong></p><p>Last December, a Juarez mother became enraged when authorities let her daughter’s convicted murderer flee the city. The determined mom planted herself in front of the state capital building in Chihuahua, vowing she’d stay put until her government brought her daughter’s killer to justice. A week later, just steps from the seat of government, the mother was gunned down in broad day-light. No one has been arrested. I asked Marisela if she’s scared.</p><p>"Of course I am," she admits. "For those of us who defend human rights, fear becomes an inherent part of your actions. I think if we didn’t feel fear we wouldn’t be human. Fear is necessary but you have to learn how to control your fear so that it doesn’t paralyze you. When someone has taken a gun to your head and said 'you are going to shut up, you are going to stop with these public statements,' it’s terrible. Your life changes completely.&nbsp; You have to say goodbye to many of your normal daily routines. You have to even say goodbye to many of your loved ones because those relationship are never the same again. I felt obligated to separate myself from my daughters. They were under threat too and so I had to say, 'there’s no other choice. You guys have to leave because to live here means constant danger and risk.'</p><p>"I have never considered leaving. I couldn’t do something so incongruent. We are struggling to better this community so how could I abandon something that I have struggled so hard for, something for which I’ve almost had to give my life? I couldn’t. I am not leaving Juarez. Not until I am in a coffin."</p><p>On a chilly winter evening at Marisela’s school, I meet Laura, 17, and Silvia, 15. Oh, and he’s one, Silvia says, nodding her head towards the little guy on her lap. Classes just ended for the day. Students scamper and shout school in the yard. The sisters sit quietly. They wear thick black mascara, and their mother must have been a beauty because they are stunning.</p><p>"Her name was Elena Guadiana," says Laura, recalling her mother. "We know that it was on a Saturday. She went to do extra hours at the maquiladora and she never came back. That’s all we know. My memories of her are fuzzy, almost nothing. I remember things like smells, the smell of burning sugar. But that’s all I remember. Nothing else."</p><p>It’s amazing that Laura remembers anything at all, as she was just 3 years and ten months old when her mom disappeared. The two sisters were essentially raised by Marisela and others in the group.</p><p>Now, they are notably teenagers - with a surface confidence protecting an inner child not much deeper. But their strength is palpable. Over time, they’ve become active members of Nuestras Hijas.</p><p>"This group is important for me," insists Laura. "It’s been very helpful for me to vent things those difficult thoughts. And to know that I don't have to talk about anything and that’s ok, too. With my mother gone, I want to do something so that what happened to her doesn’t happen again. We are here to support others going through what we went through, just as we were supported in our rough times."</p><p>Laura's sister Silvia agrees.&nbsp; She used to want to be a policewoman, until she says she realized police are corrupt.&nbsp; Now she's put her dreams of being an architect on hold to raise her son.</p><p>"I think that in every march, when we go to the streets and hand out flyers, we are making up for what we weren’t able to do for our mom," Silvia says. "That’s what I’ve come to believe and that’s why I do what I do. Now as an adult, I try to do for others what I couldn’t do before."</p><p><strong>Empowering women, changing laws</strong></p><p>Soon the room fills with girls Silvia and Laura’s age.&nbsp; The steel bar door closes and the workshop begins. The workshop leader quiets the group and explains: Few of us have the chance to tell our stories— to find our voice in this city. That’s what we’re doing here for the next few months.</p><p>Marisela told me she started these programs because the battle of Juarez’s women shouldn’t just be about those who are gone — but about empowering those who are still here. Mothers who’ve lost daughters participate too.</p><p>"Some of these workshops are aimed at empowerment," Marisela says. "So that the women starting taking responsibility in society and stop taking on the role of victim that society gives them. They end up stronger in the struggle and better able to support other women. We’ve been able to accomplish this with some of the women, but not with all. This de-victimization work is very difficult. Many women themselves dont want to let go of the victim role because it becomes a refuge for their emotional necessities."</p><p>In the past ten years, Nuestras Hijas campaigns changed Juarez law. Now the state is required to search for a woman who disappears. Before, authorities would simply say: “It’s not illegal to leave Juárez. Maybe she just crossed the border.” And not do anything. The organization has rescued women from human trafficking rings and even managed a few convictions. Over 90% of Juarez’s femicides have gone virtually uninvestigated, let alone with an arrest.</p><p>But international notoriety triggered by grassroots work like Marisela’s likely put an end to the mass maquiladora bus abductions years ago. These women also helped set a daring precedent for those who seek justice in Juarez: fear will not keep us silenced.</p><p>"Here, we are emotionally involved because the majority of us in the organization have been directly affected by the loss of a loved one, a relative and so we have common objectives," says Marisela. "Nothing separates us no matter how different we are. Some did not have the chance to go to school, others [had] few economic opportunities in their lives, [and] others suffer because their families don’t support their activism. None of that has mattered when it’s come to our work. We focus more on our what we can acheive rather than on what we lack."</p><p>Everyone has a theory to explain the Juárez femicide phenomenon. The maquilas brought hundreds of thousands of young women to an already dangerous border town, often alone. They made easy victims. Or, the justice system, saturated by impunity, fed by corruption. Or that Juarez—transformed into one of the world’s largest free-trade zones – made even human life dispensable. Maybe it’s all of this, rolled into one.&nbsp;</p><p>Without clear cause, there is no clear solution. And the problem grows.</p><p>"Frankly, over the last three years, female disappearances have increased 400% and in these last three years is when we’ve seen the highest number of women violently killed," Marisela points out.</p><p>"This has been hidden behind all the other violence of the street war between drug cartels. This has allowed the government to put the femicide issue to the side, though it wasn’t a real priority for the government to being with. They will never give you any real figures. In fact they try to hide the severity of the problem. Impunity is an inherent part of femicide. Femicide is not only the assasination of a woman but everything that surrounds that act, including impunity and institutional violence. Even after these women are killed they continue to be raped by our government institutions."</p><p><strong>Memories, identities buried deep</strong></p><p>Las Lomas are a set of hilly peaks just west of Juárez. The locale serves as the unofficial cemetery for Juarez’s women. It was a preferred dumping ground for their bodies in the 1990’s. I don’t consider myself a particularly spiritual person, but standing there, I felt something around me in the winter breeze; as if their ghosts surrounded me.</p><p>A local told me that police rarely bothered to come up here. Mothers would climb the sandy soil hills looking for—and often discovering—their daughters bodies; mutilated and decayed.</p><p>Today, a built road stretches to the top and nearby residents come on the weekends to enjoy the view. There’s a soccer field for afternoon games. Eight wooden crosses, painted pink, stand off to the side, covered by tall brush. One more, at the top of a high post, leans sideways, barely hanging on. Passersby, even if they do notice, don’t even glance in that direction.</p></p> Tue, 13 Sep 2011 15:47:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-13/ground-shifters-%E2%80%98justice-buried%E2%80%99-ciudad-ju%C3%A1rez-91917 Worldview 9.13.11 http://www.wbez.org/episode/worldview-91311 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/episode/images/2011-september/2011-09-13/patfitz.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Yesterday, in <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/fitzgerald-patriot-act-and-information-sharing-critical-war-terror-91894" target="_blank">a major speech</a>, U.S. attorney <a href="http://www.justice.gov/usao/iln/aboutus/patrickjfitzgerald.html">Patrick Fitzgerald</a> defended the Patriot Act and said the most important shift in fighting terror over the past decade has been the new level of cooperation between intelligence and law enforcement. We get reaction and analysis from human rights lawyer <a href="http://www.law.columbia.edu/fac/Scott_Horton" target="_blank">Scott Horton</a> from Columbia Law School. Later in the hour, we turn our eyes to Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, a city that gained international notoriety in the 1990s for its epidemic of female abductions. In the next installment of our series <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/ground-shifters-stories-women-changing-unseen-worlds" target="_self"><em>Ground Shifters</em></a>, reporter Jean Friedman-Rudovsky profiles Marisela Ortiz, an activist who has spent years fighting for the families of “femicide.”</p></p> Tue, 13 Sep 2011 14:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode/worldview-91311 Jean Friedman-Rudovsky chronicles ‘women warriors’ in Ciudad Juárez and Bolivia http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-12/jean-friedman-rudovsky-chronicles-%E2%80%98women-warriors%E2%80%99-ciudad-ju%C3%A1rez-and-bol <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-September/2011-09-12/jean.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>This week, <em>Worldview </em>kicks off a series that’s part of an ongoing collaboration between WBEZ and the <a href="http://www.colum.edu/Academics/Institute_for_the_Study_of_Women_and_Gender_in_the_Arts_and_Media/" target="_blank">Institute for the Study of Women &amp; Gender in the Arts &amp; Media</a> at Columbia College-Chicago.&nbsp; The Institute develops projects with journalists, artists, human rights workers and activists to investigate global issues.</p><p>Jean Friedman-Rudovsky was their fall 2010 fellow. She’s a freelance journalist based in La Paz, Bolivia. We feature five stories from Friedman-Rudovsky about women and girls in Bolivia and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. She tells us why she named her series<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/ground-shifters-stories-women-changing-unseen-worlds" target="_self"><em> Ground Shifters: Stories of Women Changing Unseen Worlds</em></a>.</p></p> Mon, 12 Sep 2011 17:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-12/jean-friedman-rudovsky-chronicles-%E2%80%98women-warriors%E2%80%99-ciudad-ju%C3%A1rez-and-bol