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Know the West

Tragedy on the border

  Charles Bowden's recent book Juarez: The Laboratory of Our Future chronicled, in vivid words and photographs, the violent restlessness of sprawling Ciudad Juarez (HCN, 9/14/98). Among the most horrifying, and unforgettable, images were those of the bodies of several young women, all murdered on their way home from low-paying jobs at the U.S.-owned factories on the Mexican side of the border. At least 200 such women have been murdered in Juarez since 1993, and similarities among the killings have led police to suspect that the attacks are related. Now, the Los Angeles Times reports, there's been a break in the case. After hearing testimony from a 14-year-old survivor of an attack, police believe a convicted killer in a Juarez jail has organized a ring of murderers-for-hire - some of whom drive the buses intended to protect factory workers on their way to and from work. But even if the mastermind of this series of attacks has been pinpointed, say some, a post-NAFTA backlash of machismo along the border continues to make life dangerous for all women in Juarez. "Women are occupying the space of men in a culture of absolute dominance of men over women," Esther Chavez, founder of a Juarez feminist group, told the Times. "This has to provoke misogyny."

You can access this May 12 story, "The Deaths that Haunt Juarez," on the Web for a $1.50 fee at www.latimes.com. Reprints can be obtained for $5.00 by writing to Times on Demand, Bradbury Suite, Times-Mirror Square, Los Angeles CA 90053 or calling 800/788-8804. For more information about Juarez: The Laboratory of Our Future, call the publisher, Aperture, at 800/929-2323.

* Michelle Nijhuis