Author: Teresa Rodriguez with Diana Montané and Lisa Pulitzer, 2007.
Genre: Non-Fiction. True Crime.
Other Details: Hardback. 336 pages.
Since 1993 the city of Juárez, Mexico, just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, has been the site a horrific crime wave against women and girls. Consisting of kidnappings, rape, mutilation, and murder, most of the atrocities have involved young, slender, and poor victims. This has fuelled the premise that these murders are not random. As for who is behind the crimes themselves, the answer remains unknown. Teresa Rodriguez, a journalist working for Univision (the leading Spanish language network in the USA), had been investigating and reporting on these crimes for eight years before writing this harrowing account. She continues this work as well as to draw attention to violence against women worldwide.
After reading '2666' I had wanted to read something non-fictional about the murders in Juarez that had inspired the novel. By chance my local library had this book in its True Crime section.
I had described Roberto Bolaño's fictional account as a litany of death that shocked me to the core. This is a cooler, more measured account of the crimes, focusing mainly on the victims and their families. It was shocking in a different way and much of that was linked to the disinterest exhibited by the police and other authorities over these deaths and their attempts to discredit the victims.
The implied corruption within officialdom along with various miscarriages of justice, which also featured in '2666', here was somehow worse because this wasn't fiction. A few times there are statements made by officials that the families of victims and activists are "blowing things out of proportion". I found it hard to get my head around such statements as I am sure anyone reading it would. Overall this a powerful account even if a pessimistic one as the murders continue even into 2011 with an official body count of 465 and thousands more women and girls reported missing.
Teresa Rodriguez's Home Page.
The Juarez Project - a grass roots organisation supporting the women of Juarez.