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"Diana" - The Brave One, Mexico Style?
September 4, 2013 10:32 AM   Subscribe

Reportedly a female vigilante killer shot two bus drivers to death last week in Ciudad Juarez. Via emails, the woman has indicated she is acting as an "instrument of vengeance" for sexual assaults against herself and other women by bus drivers. Ciudad Juarez has a notorious history, dating from about 1993 to the mid 2000s, for murder of women, frequently involving sexual assault. Previously.
posted by bearwife (70 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
When I was 15, I would have thought this was badass and awesome. Now that I am much older, wiser and better educated, I understand that it is extremely important to pretend that it is not.
posted by Countess Elena at 10:39 AM on September 4, 2013 [110 favorites]


Well, if there is no functioning police or legal authority, if victims have no justice, this happens. Honor is maintained by the hand of those dishonored. No justice, no peace.
posted by stbalbach at 10:42 AM on September 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


To paraphrase The Onion, bad-ass action movie behavior is horrifying in real life.
posted by Cash4Lead at 10:45 AM on September 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Looks like it's a bad week to be a bus driver with a history of sexual violence.
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:48 AM on September 4, 2013


Oh that Bolaño were still alive to write The Part About Diana.
posted by RogerB at 10:52 AM on September 4, 2013 [11 favorites]


Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino are bashing away at their word processors furiously
posted by Renoroc at 10:52 AM on September 4, 2013 [13 favorites]


The articles don't say that the bus drivers killed by Diana had anything to do with the violence against women described or other crimes. For all we know, Diana might be killing bus drivers as representatives of their class but otherwise picking them at random or as targets of opportunity. Even she had concrete evidence or personally knows someone to be guilty, she may have killed the wrong person by mistake.
posted by Bwithh at 11:04 AM on September 4, 2013 [10 favorites]


I understand that it is extremely important to pretend that it is not.

Seriously? You have to "pretend" that there aren't about a million ways this goes horrifyingly, sickeningly wrong? You have to "pretend" that lynch mobs and vigilantes aren't better than actual systems of justice? Sheesh.

Oh, no, I'm sure you're right. I'll bet this woman was utterly scrupulous about ensuring that there was a sound, unimpeachable case against the guys she just shot. I mean, we all know that a full-blown court trial that examines evidence gathered over weeks of painstaking investigation never leads to a miscarriage of justice, so what are the odds that the far more rigorous process of 'some woman decided to shoot this guy' could possibly go awry?
posted by yoink at 11:10 AM on September 4, 2013 [22 favorites]


Gonna have to agree with yoink here. Revenge fantasies never play out as well in real life as they do in fiction.
posted by Curious Artificer at 11:17 AM on September 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


I live a stone's throw from ciudad Juárez. The femicides and the total absence of justice for them are profoundly troubling to me. A part of me would love for a superhero to emerge from that chaos and avenge all of the senseless violence and suffering.

But reality is always more complicated. I'm afraid this just troubles me more. I understand how it happens, of course--if there are no other avenues for justice to travel, retributive violence is going to happen to some degree. But even if it's always directed at people who are guilty of the crimes they're charged with (by individuals) with no mistakes, no symbolic killings, etc., it still isn't just, either.
posted by byanyothername at 11:18 AM on September 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


The articles don't say that the bus drivers killed by Diana had anything to do with the violence against women described or other crimes. For all we know, Diana might be killing bus drivers as representatives of their class but otherwise picking them at random or as targets of opportunity.

Exactly my thought.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:18 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


yoink, I do not pretend that vigilante justice is a good idea. It is a terrible one. This woman has ruined her own life. She will be hunted down for certain now, because she has made herself so visible. And, no, we have no guarantee that the men who were killed committed any crimes.

But this is not a place with a functioning system of justice. She did something for women, where no one else would. She should not have done it, but it is hard not to admit that it was brave of her. I will not defend what she did, but I will not pretend it took place in a vacuum.
posted by Countess Elena at 11:21 AM on September 4, 2013 [31 favorites]


She did something for women

IF these bus drivers were guilty of the crimes she murdered them for.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:23 AM on September 4, 2013


She did something for women

IF these bus drivers were guilty of the crimes she murdered them for.


Well, we're talking about it now aren't we? That's something, right or wrong.
posted by captaincrouton at 11:25 AM on September 4, 2013


Yeah, thank God we're on the case.
posted by Naberius at 11:27 AM on September 4, 2013 [53 favorites]


Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino are bashing away at their word processors furiously.

They're totally having a sleepover with feetie pajamas where they hang out on the floor of the basement rumpus room taking turns writing scenes and illustrating storyboards with each other, and Quentin's mom keeps yelling down the stairs, threatening to send Robert home if they don't keep it down, she has to work tomorrow. They'll pass out on stacks of 50's western and "Real Combat" comic books, the place lit by braziers full of burning 500 euro notes.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:27 AM on September 4, 2013 [21 favorites]


Aileen Wuornos much?
posted by Sys Rq at 11:28 AM on September 4, 2013


This woman has ruined her own life.

And very likely many others if those she killed had families.
posted by rocket88 at 11:31 AM on September 4, 2013


It's totally okay that we (non-specific "we") can have such cultural love for characters like Walter White or Dexter or anybody on GoT. I wonder how much cultural love this would get if it were on HBO or the first in a series of graphic novels?
posted by rtha at 11:32 AM on September 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, we're talking about it now aren't we? That's something, right or wrong.

So, us talking about whether she is or is not a justified murderer is something positive (the clear implication of Countess Elena's comment) for women?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:32 AM on September 4, 2013


Compare and contrast:

[After two killings]
The government announced it would put undercover police aboard some buses and conduct weapons searches to prevent further killings, and said a citywide search for the suspect is already on.

"We have a police sketch of the suspect and we are looking for her," municipal police spokesman Adrian Sanchez said.

Many of the women murdered during a string of more than 100 eerily similar women's killings in Ciudad Juárez in the 1990s and early 2000s disappeared after boarding buses. Their bodies were often found weeks or months later, raped, strangled and dumped in the desert or vacant lots.



This is why it feels to someone like Diana that she is doing something worth doing. This is not a good thing, but it isn't entirely Diana's fault. I don't agree with it but I sure as hell fucking understand.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:33 AM on September 4, 2013 [40 favorites]


I wonder how much cultural love this would get if it were on HBO or the first in a series of graphic novels?

The Bridge.
posted by shothotbot at 11:36 AM on September 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


You're not going to be given anything resembling justice, but nor is it okay to strike back. Sit down, be a good little victim so that we can feel sorry for you but do nothing to help you.

Bah.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:37 AM on September 4, 2013 [12 favorites]


Seriously? You have to "pretend" that there aren't about a million ways this goes horrifyingly, sickeningly wrong? You have to "pretend" that lynch mobs and vigilantes aren't better than actual systems of justice? Sheesh.

Ahahahahhahahahaah.

Ahahahahhahahhahah.

For women being murdered and assaulted? In Mexico? I'm sure there's probably "a fine for that."
posted by corb at 11:40 AM on September 4, 2013 [9 favorites]


The government announced it would put undercover police aboard some buses and conduct weapons searches to prevent further killings...This is why it feels to someone like Diana that she is doing something worth doing.

I don't think you can really speak to her motivations like this. Did she really think, "If I kill a couple of those guys, they'll [maybe] increase security on some buses and that will keep women safe"? Seems like a stretch!
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:40 AM on September 4, 2013


> Did she really think, "If I kill a couple of those guys, they'll [maybe] increase security on some buses and that will keep women safe"? Seems like a stretch!

Are the police being put on the buses to protect the female passengers, or the male bus drivers?
posted by ardgedee at 11:43 AM on September 4, 2013 [14 favorites]


I was struck more by the fact that the government thought that the murders of two men meant that it was worth putting undercover police officers on buses, and yet the murders/disappearances of more than 100 women on those same buses apparently didn't mean shit.
posted by imnotasquirrel at 11:45 AM on September 4, 2013 [116 favorites]


The fact that we are talking about the more than 100 similar murders is probably the intended result of "Diana's" actions. So for some definition of positive, where a positive outcome is one that results us talking about these 100 murders, it was a positive result. Whether any of this is positive for humanity, is doubtful.
posted by captaincrouton at 11:45 AM on September 4, 2013


I don't think the issue is the government caring more about men than women. While estimates of female homicide victims in the city ranges from several hundred to the low thousands, males still made up the majority of homicide victims. It seem more likely that the response is due to the targeting of city employees.
posted by Nothing at 11:51 AM on September 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Are the police being put on the buses to protect the female passengers, or the male bus drivers?

The drivers, of course, but presumably the cops' presence will stop the drivers from doing anything untoward, if only because I doubt the driver would act if there was anyone else on the bus but the intended victim.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:54 AM on September 4, 2013


The Bridge.

Yeah, just what I was thinking! A killer in Juarez and El Paso (supposedly) attempting to shine a light on the injustices and hypocrisies of the border.
posted by Justinian at 11:55 AM on September 4, 2013


But this is not a place with a functioning system of justice.

Yeah to give some context, Ciudad Juárez has the nickname "Murder City" and is effectively a war zone in terms of the massive amounts of killings that happen there. It has gotten better in recent years but they still average around 5 murders per day and it's still top 5 in both aggregate murders and murders per capita for cities globally. Murder investigations pretty much do not happen for some random person getting killed there, so if your family member gets raped and murdered by a bus driver there's not much chance that the police and government are going to spend a bunch of time finding the perpetrator proving their guilt in court. Not that the sane solution to such a situation is for people to start shooting bus drivers, but there's not really a great choice for a functioning system of justice in one of the most dysfunctional places in the world.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:02 PM on September 4, 2013 [14 favorites]


Yeah- 2 drivers get killed and NOW the police must do something to increase security on buses? Jesus.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:03 PM on September 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's totally okay that we (non-specific "we") can have such cultural love for characters like Walter White or Dexter or anybody on GoT.

Honestly I feel like there often is too much "cultural love" for those kind of characters. See for example Anna Gunn's recent editorial about people's hatred for Skyler White.

(And there's definitely too much love for Dexter, most of it from the writing room.)

The fact that we are talking about the more than 100 similar murders is probably the intended result of "Diana's" actions. So for some definition of positive, where a positive outcome is one that results us talking about these 100 murders, it was a positive result.

I'm pretty sure Diana could give a fuck about whether random people on the Internet are talking about the situation in Juarez.
posted by kmz at 12:16 PM on September 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


She will be hunted down for certain now, because she has made herself so visible.

I can't wait for the "Non-murderers rarely make history" bumper sticker.
posted by DU at 12:17 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Amnesty International: Justice fails in Ciudad Juarez and the city of Chihuahua
The reality is that since 1993 more than 370 young women and girls have been murdered in the cities of Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua - at least a third suffering sexual violence - without the authorities taking proper measures to investigate and address the problem.
posted by TheGoodBlood at 12:20 PM on September 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


More of this, please. Theoretically, this is bad for all the reasons it's trivial to regurgitate. But you know what? Given what it's actually like for women right now? I don't really care. More of this. Thumbs up.
posted by a birds at 12:24 PM on September 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't know, I guess I just feel like people being wrongfully murdered isn't just theoretically bad, it's actually bad.

Call me old-fashioned.

Of course, we really have no idea if these two drivers ever did anything themselves. Maybe they looked the other way when fellow drivers did some reprehensible shit. I'll bet we never know. Just another day in Hell.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:26 PM on September 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hundreds of women raped and killed/missing -- no action. Two bus drivers -- well, we'd better put undercovers on the buses. I realize that it's not just because of patriarchy that the treatment of the two situations is so disparate but also partly because of media attention, but on the other hand, why did the hundreds of women not garner any media attention? The answer to that question is left as an exercise.
posted by axiom at 12:45 PM on September 4, 2013 [8 favorites]


They didn't get media attention because their deaths didn't affect other dudes' ability to get to work. America, legalize drugs. Then we can get down to moralizing and spreading our unique vision of justice to the world.
posted by lordaych at 12:49 PM on September 4, 2013


Of course, we really have no idea if these two drivers ever did anything themselves.

I'm not accusing anyone in particular, but I find the incredible concern for the drivers and their presumed lack of guilt here a complete contrast to the hang-em-high attitude in things like the Boston thread where people were ready to disembowel anyone who was even mentioned as a suspect.

I don't think this is the right way to go about this sort of thing in a civilized society, but by all accounts Ciudad Juarez sounds like it's not in civilized society.
posted by maxwelton at 12:55 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I did read a nearly soul destroying article in ' The Atlantic' about murders of women and girls in Juarez back in the 90s. I want to say this was probably in 1996.
There were numerous photographically impeccable pictures of the dissociated remains of one these women and girls.
I felt dirty and queasy after reading the article.
There has been on again off again coverage.
Many of the victims disappeared on the way to and from work in the maquiladoras.
They took buses. They were just trying to earn a living.
I don't condone what this woman Diana did either but I too sure understand.
I hope she got guilty parties.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 12:56 PM on September 4, 2013


When just googling brings up blatant incidents of officials ignoring family members of those murdered:
In a heated meeting in Juarez on Feb. 2, the mothers presented a six-point list of demands that requires the authorities to immediately hand over all information on the cases of their daughters, to make investigations transparent, and for investigations into the cases of the disappeared to be considered a priority and expedited.

At one point during the meeting, Ciudad Juarez Municipal President, Héctor Murguía Lardizábal, lost control and showed exactly the kind of attitude the mothers were complaining about. “Fucking mothers! Let me speak!” he yelled, as the mothers pointedly expressed their grief and frustration to the officials. ... The Feb. 2 meeting ended with Governor Duarte publically pledging to fulfill the demands within 30 days ... Yet impunity and a rejection of justice seem to be the only commitment being made by authorities. According to the legal representative of the Committee of Mothers of the Disappeared, Francisca Galvan, Duarte has failed to fulfill his promises.
- stories of family members murdered after asking for justice:
Every day, Marisela fought for justice for her daughter and sought out the killer. She received multiple death threats. She responded saying, “If they’re going to kill me, they should do it right in front of the government building so they feel ashamed.”

And they did. Marisela took her demands for justice from the border to the state capital where a hit man approached her in broad daylight, chased her down, then shot her in the head. [YT link; murder caught on camera] ...

Another case is that of Norma Andrade and her daughter Malú Garcia ... In 2001 Andrade’s daughter, Lilia Alejandra García Andrade was the victim of an unsolved femicide. Similar to Escobedo, Andrade and her other daughter, Malú Garcia, began to organize against femicides, violence against women, and the widespread impunity that has allowed the phenomenon to grip many parts of the country. In the winter of 2011 ... Andrade survived a gunman’s attack, resulting in 5 bullet wounds and Garcia suffered an arsonist attack, resulting in the destruction of her home. Later in 2012, after seeking protection and relocating to Mexico City, Andrade survived another attempt on her life when a man entered her home and tried to stab her.
- the fact that bodies of the dead were left in the morgue for years before being identified:
The body of Adriana Sarmiento was retained in the Coroner’s Office for about a year or more”, said a source of Los Angeles Press. This case is similar to Hilda Gabriela Rivas Campos, 16 years of age; she went missing in February, 2008 and murdered the same year. Her body was found at Kilometer 57 in Valle de Juarez and was kept in the Coroner’s Office for three years until the authorities decided to notify her mother on September 27, 2011 ... Of 26 bodies of women who have been retained in the morgue, including Adriana Sarmiento, only two have been identified and returned to their families, Hilda Gabriela Rivas and Monica Liliana Delgado, found at Kilometer 75. Another body has been identified as Jasmine Villa Esparza, found in San Agustin, and her mother has not been notified. Seven unidentified bodies were found in Loma Blanca, and 15 more, also unidentified, were found in the Valle de Juarez, without specifying in which town.
- that the wave of women who came to Juarez to work in the maquiladoras would be looked down upon:
From modest beginnings, the maquiladora labor force has grown to nearly a quarter-million workers in 300 plants in the city, most of them U.S. owned. Many workers migrated from Mexico’s interior; in fact, Ciudad Juárez is sometimes called a “city of migrants.”

At the outset, women represented about 80% of the assembly-line workers. By the early 21st century, the percentage of women in the maquiladora workforce diminished, but it is still more than half. In the 40 years of industrial production on the border, gender anxieties, threats and some male backlash have emerged in response to women’s greater earning power, however modest, in the formal workforce. The local media have sometimes expressed hostility toward the maquiladora women, most notably in the 1980s and early 1990s. Popular folklore often portrays these women as oversexed libertines who stay out late and dress provocatively, leading some politicians to blame the victims.
- and reports of false confessions extracted under torture:
In June 2003, Perzabal and Kiecker were suddenly arrested and charged with the killing of 16-year-old Viviana Rayas. Publicly connecting the crime to a Satanic-like ritual, the [Chihuahua State Attorney General's Office] claimed the couple made voluntary confessions. But the two distraught suspects soon told a different story to the press: Chihuahua state policemen used electric shocks and other forms of torture to extract false murder confessions. The couple's account was found credible by investigators from the US Department of State and Guadalupe Morfin, President Fox's special femicide commissioner from 2003 to 2006. The PGJE [State Attorney General's Office] produced no real evidence to prove its allegations, and a Chihuahua judge acquitted Kiecker and Perzabal of the Rayas murder in December 2004 ... During the nearly 18 months he spent in a Chihuahua City prison awaiting trial, Perzabal met "hundreds" of prisoners who blamed Mayorga, Cobos and other PGJE officers for torturing them, he added.
- well, I can't imagine what it's like to be a woman in Juarez and live with twenty years' worth of deep-seated fear, the frustration of a system that has failed you and the bitterness of denied justice.
posted by zennish at 1:00 PM on September 4, 2013 [52 favorites]


I'm not accusing anyone in particular, but I find the incredible concern for the drivers and their presumed lack of guilt

what
posted by downing street memo at 1:02 PM on September 4, 2013 [9 favorites]


I didn't presume anything about the drivers. If anything, the boosters are presuming that the drivers deserved it, or even if they didn't personally deserve it their murders in place of those who did are ok, because women have it very rough in Juarez. That's gross. I mean, if there was any indication from the linked articles that the murdered drivers were responsible in any way for the crimes for which they were murdered, I would be singing a different tune. There isn't.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 1:09 PM on September 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


I find the incredible concern for the drivers and their presumed lack of guilt

Yeah, like what loser ever thought "presuming innocence" was a good idea anyway, right?
posted by yoink at 1:16 PM on September 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't think the issue is the government caring more about men than women. While estimates of female homicide victims in the city ranges from several hundred to the low thousands, males still made up the majority of homicide victims. It seem more likely that the response is due to the targeting of city employees.
posted by Nothing at 11:51 AM on September 4 [1 favorite +] [!]

'
I'm not certain they're city employees, but on similar lines, I think the special attention is due to the possibility of bus drivers staying away from their jobs or going on strike. Suddenly local factory owners will have to start paying for their own buses for employees.
posted by Bwithh at 1:43 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


but on the other hand, why did the hundreds of women not garner any media attention?

Maybe because you weren't using media that gives a fuck about south of the border? Compared to other ignored worldwide travesties, this was actually covered. The LA Times, in particular, had (has?) a good series on the violence in mexico.
posted by amorphatist at 2:01 PM on September 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


So isn't what Diana doing "Profiling" - persuming guilt based upon appearances? We all know how well that goes. And if this represents years of frustration and anger - killing some poor schmucks who are also just trying to make a living is the way to vent it? What about the wives and mothers and families of these bus drivers? I am pretty sure they would say killing anyone is wrong, full stop.
posted by helmutdog at 3:10 PM on September 4, 2013


Sorry, folks, my comment was incoherent (nothing new for me).

To be clear:

* I don't think vigilante justice is a good idea
* I do think we should be damn sure people are guilty before we punish them

What prompted my comment as I read this thread was that it really seems to be a different "room feel" than that present in (for example) the Boston thread. There, my impression was of an overwhelming "these dudes are guilty, throw away the key!" voice with a comparatively small "shouldn't we wait to see?"dissent. Here it seems very much the opposite. Probably only interesting to me, sorry.

The violence against women in Ciudad is real and reprehensible, and seemingly intractable. Someone there has decided to do something about it, albeit in a way that's beyond problematic, but to me it underlines the problem.

It seems similar to me to a story about an abused person who murders their abuser (again, metaphor, I have no idea if these two drivers were among them, though it seems a bit unlikely the killings are random). Those cases always seem to me to be very ambiguous from a moral standpoint, which is how this seems to me, with my shallow outsider's knowledge.
posted by maxwelton at 4:07 PM on September 4, 2013


Here it seems very much the opposite. Probably only interesting to me, sorry.

I think the thing with this case is that there's really very little to suggest from the reporting that she knew either of these guys personally. Maybe it's just the reporting.
posted by amorphatist at 4:31 PM on September 4, 2013


Here it seems very much the opposite.

Because the situation's are completely different? Here we have no evidence whatsoever these guys did anything except have a job as a bus driver. In Boston we had a guy caught literally red handed after a shootout with police involving explosives.
posted by Justinian at 5:16 PM on September 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


The reality is that since 1993 more than 370 young women and girls have been murdered in the cities of Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua - at least a third suffering sexual violence - without the authorities taking proper measures to investigate and address the problem.

FWIW, it's not universally accepted that it makes sense to talk about the murders of women specifically in and and around Ciudad Juárez, as opposed to an ongoing human rights crisis in which the authorities don't take the proper measures to investigate and address the problem of the murder rate in general. (And per my link, the reason the murders of women in the '90s and early 2000s were so similar is that in the majority of cases they were the result of domestic violence, rather than the product of a conspiracy.)

This Kindle Single (by an American journalist who lived in Ciudad Juárez a few years ago, and who wrote a book in part about the effect's of the city's murder rate) goes into the arguments in a bit more detail.
posted by asterix at 5:45 PM on September 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


So I guess the question we all have to answer is where she falls on the spectrum from Bernie Goetz to John Brown on our own continuum of morality.
posted by shothotbot at 6:30 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jesus. I don't feel like I have anything to add except that I wind up reading a lot of stories about Ciudad Juarez, and they tend to be pretty heartbreaking (On the Media has a terrific piece about the murderous war on reporters there, while The Real Housewife of Ciudad Juarez is a generally excellent blog by an American woman who moved to the city, and there are frequent stories of violence.)

There is a lot of killing in Ciudad Juarez, and it tends to be pretty indiscriminate. In this climate, there has been an all-out war on women declared (the documentary City of Dead Girls discusses how the city has become a sort-of playground for serial killers who prey on women). This is a city of 1.5 million -- about the size of Philadelphia. Imagine if Philadelphia had 60 rape murders every year. Imagine that they were brutal beyond imagination, with the women being held hostage for days, being subjected to a level of sadistic violence that defies description, and were mutilated before killed (the NY Times details this, but be cautious reading it.)

The police do nothing. Hell, many of the women are there to be exploited -- work conditions are violent, low-paying, and miserable, but at least there is work. Few people even have access to clean water, and a lot of water is poisoned by industrial chemicals.

It is impossible to discuss this event and separate it from these details, and a million others. It is more useful to think of Ciudad Juarez as a war zone when discussing this.

In this context, I don't know that we can discuss Diana as we would an American vigilante in a similar circumstance. Her shootings seem like madness, but its not a madness without cause, or even precedent. This is a city of regular violent and frequently indiscriminate public reprisals, and the only thing notable about this instance is that it is men being targeted as punishment for sexual violence.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:57 PM on September 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is a city of 1.5 million -- about the size of Philadelphia. Imagine if Philadelphia had 60 rape murders every year.

Funny you should mention Philadelphia; that comparison also comes up in the Kindle Single I linked to. The author points out that, prior to the increase in drug cartel violence , the murder rate for women in Philly was actually higher than in CJ. (He specifically mentions 2006: 20 women murdered in CJ, 47 in Philadelphia. Here are the stats for Philadelphia from 2007-2011; 2006 wasn't an outlier.)

And having read the author's description of his interview with one of the reporters making the argument that CJ has become a playground for serial killers, I'm inclined to take such claims with a grain of salt. (He also says that the FBI investigated the possibility of a serial killer or killers in the '90s and came to the conclusion that there weren't any.) But read it for yourself and decide.

None of this is to suggest that CJ is perfectly safe for women, or to downplay the effects of the violence there. If there's one thing I took away from This Love Is Not For Cowards, it's that CJ is a brutal place and that "heartbreaking" really is the only word to describe it.
posted by asterix at 10:40 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


As people have said above, read 2666 by Roberto Bolano. You can start at Section 4: The part about the killings. It is emotionally intense, stylistically austere and it's a satire on police incompetence in Juarez - thinly disguised as the fictional city of Santa Teresa.

It is the stark recounting of the discovery of body after body. each one seems like the start of a crime story. but the story is constantly thwarted. the subversion of the crime genre reflects the world out of balance. It is one of the most feminist books I have read by any male author.

It is however intensely distressing.
posted by communicator at 10:40 PM on September 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


The reality is that since 1993 more than 370 young women and girls have been murdered in the cities of Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua

Someone upthread says there are over 1,500 murders per year in Juarez alone, which would mean 30,000 murders over 20 years. If these numbers are all accurate, we're talking about a group representing less than 2% of murder victims. Granted, there's a big difference between a totally innocent bystander and a drug dealer getting murdered, but clearly ANY police force would be hard pressed to deal with this level of mayhem.
posted by ShutterBun at 12:08 AM on September 5, 2013


I just read the Kindle Single recommended by asterix above and I recommend it too
posted by Bwithh at 12:45 AM on September 5, 2013


As people have said above, read 2666 by Roberto Bolano

A nicaraguan friend of mine has been quoting extensively in spanish on her facebook feed as she's been reading it, and it seems like a fantastic book. I did not know it was translated into english, but now I'll be picking it up.
posted by empath at 12:52 AM on September 5, 2013


You're not going to be given anything resembling justice, but nor is it okay to strike back. Sit down, be a good little victim so that we can feel sorry for you but do nothing to help you.

Bah.


So regarding the Trayvon Martin thing...and the BART incident, would it be ok if there was some vigilante justice done there?

No of course it wouldn't. That would be against white people, and we're on metafilter here.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:21 AM on September 5, 2013


So if I were a man who wanted to improve my chances of getting away with the killing of bus drivers (perhaps I was running a protection racket or they owed me money for drugs) then I would simply spread the story that I were some female avenger because I knew that so many people take stories at face value especially if it reinforces what they want to believe.
posted by epo at 2:59 AM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


So regarding the Trayvon Martin thing...and the BART incident, would it be ok if there was some vigilante justice done there?

No of course it wouldn't. That would be against white people, and we're on metafilter here.


Were my views on the subject in line with mainstream liberalism you might have a point.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:19 AM on September 5, 2013


To expand on that, my position isn't "WOO! AWESOME! MURDER, FUCK YEAH!" My position is that I totally understand, or to the extent to which it is possible for me to understand, where this is coming from, and I refuse to condemn victims of oppression seeking violence outside the system when the system spits in their faces and refuses them justice. Is vigilantism carried out by the oppressed ideal? No, of course not, but we do not live in an ideal situation, and expecting the oppressed to respond to victimization with speech alone is gross, privileged behavior.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:22 AM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


What you or anyone else has failed to do, of course, is give any evidence that these killings represent any kind of "justice". What did these bus drivers do? We don't know. She gives no indication in her emails that they, personally, did anything at all. That assumes, of course, as epo touches on above, that it was a woman and that the received emails are even from the killer or represent the killer's motives accurately.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 6:13 AM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


So regarding the Trayvon Martin thing...and the BART incident, would it be ok if there was some vigilante justice done there?

No of course it wouldn't. That would be against white people, and we're on metafilter here.


One: Metafilter has thousands of members with widely varying opinions on all subjects, and you're one of them.

Two: You think we're overwhelmingly for vigilantism as long as it's not against white people? What?

Three: Who's the white person in the Trayvon Martin case?
posted by Sys Rq at 8:22 AM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I refuse to condemn victims of oppression seeking violence outside the system when the system spits in their faces and refuses them justice.

You're granting victim-hood to a vigilante by virtue of her gender. Obviously, she is not a murder victim (though maybe her friends were). Killing bus drivers who (as far as we know) are totally unrelated to the crimes in question is neither vigilantism nor "striking a blow on behalf of the oppressed."

Such tactics go by another name: terrorism. How much support and/or understanding do you want to throw behind this kind of behavior?
posted by ShutterBun at 2:06 AM on September 6, 2013


Such tactics go by another name: terrorism.

Well, a lot of things get called terrorism. I suppose some could call it guerrilla warfare. I don't know how I feel about this, so I'm going to stick with as neutral descriptor. It's undeniably vigilantism.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:24 PM on September 6, 2013


Isn't vigilantism when you try to enact justice because the authorities won't or can't do it? This seems more like pure murder to me until we get some indication these guys were anything but innocent bus drivers.

I mean, if I were to shoot a random arab-looking person because I'm mad about 9/11 does that make me a vigilante or a scummy murderer? I'd say the latter. You're only a vigilante if you target someone you rationally believe is actually guilty of a crime or injustice.
posted by Justinian at 1:15 PM on September 6, 2013


Lynchings in the American west were often sort of haphazard, with little concern for whether the target of the violence (who were, I should point out, often white) was actually guilty of anything or not. There were waves of vigilante action against ethnic communities, such as anti-Greek and anti-Chinese riots, which all qualify as vigilantism, even though there was no defined guilty target. They're not necessarily good parallels with this case, but they are examples of vigilantism that don't target people who the vigilantes had a real good sense of the guilt of.

Vigilantism tends to rise in places where crimes have pretty high stakes and there is a nonexistent or undependable police system. Horse rustling in the west, as an example, could lead to a horse rancher losing everything and his family literally starving to death. Race-based vigilantism usually occurred at times of enormous transition and reflected massive and undressed social fault lines (the Red Summer of 1919, during which there were hundreds of race-based lynchings, seems to parallel the Northern migration of black people seeking semi-skilled labor jobs, displacing white workers, especially those who had fought in World War I).

Vigilantism is awfully complicated, and, by definition, is extralegal. The War of the Regulation, which was a catalyst to our own Revolutionary War, was a reaction to both official corruption and a deep depression that disadvantaged colonial settlers in North and South Carolina, ruining their livelihoods and plunging them deep into debt. The Regulators were not, um, well-regulated, and tended to engage in minor and major acts of violence on their own against anyone that they saw as being a representation of this sort of economic tyranny.

I know that in the United States we tend to favor a system that at least makes a show of trying to address crimes individually and punish people who are actually guilty (it's worth noting that our police systems actually do target innocent people, and that our justice system frequently convicts the wrong people and levies bigger sentences, both of this often based on race). But when that sort of system doesn't exist, and when the crimes committed are devastating and unjust, and there is no system in place to address it, vigilantism generally rises, and it has almost no history of being targeted or fair or just.

I don't know that we can address this exclusively as an individual act. I think this is a symptom of a larger and more profound injustice. Honestly, at the moment, it sounds like people are outraged over the killing of the drivers in a way they haven't been at the rape and murder of hundreds of women, and I think that misprioritizes this story. I agree that innocent people should not be shot to death for things they may have had nothing to do with, but this is one iteration of a larger story that has, up until now, exclusively been about sexual violence and murder of women.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:26 PM on September 6, 2013


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