Mexico activists vow to press ahead after mother seeking justice is murdered
Human rights activists in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico's most violent city, say their cause will not be silenced by the death of Marisela Escobedo Ortiz, who was shot dead last week while demanding justice in her daughter's unsolved killing.
All she wanted was justice for her slain daughter.Skip to next paragraph
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But what Marisela Escobedo Ortiz received was a bullet in the head, after leading a series of marches, including most recently a sit-in outside the governor’s palace in Chihuahua City in northern Mexico, demanding that the killer of her teen daughter face sentencing. It was there, last Thursday night, that masked men drove up to the government hall and shot Ms. Escobedo dead.
Her daughter’s death, her own death last week, and then the killing of a brother-in-law on Saturday has shocked Mexico, where even hardened residents wonder at the limits of impunity these days. Many activists say they believe the message was clear: to stifle the voices of those who dare fight the status quo.
Much violence here, with all of its various roots and expressions, has had a silencing effect. Journalists intimidated by drug traffickers have erased their bylines or refused to cover organized crime. Citizens, fearful of corrupt police, do not report crimes. Business owners, avoiding extortion or worse, have shuttered their doors.
The plight of the Escobedo family will not turn that trend around, say social activists in Chihuahua state.
“The way in which she was assassinated, and everything surrounding the case, leaves a clear message for the community of social activists and human rights workers that we should be quiet,” says activist Marisela Ortiz of Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa, a group fighting against the disappearance of women in Ciudad Juárez in Chihuahua state. “But for those of us who are dedicated, the murder is pushing us to unite and continue this fight.”
The main suspect was her boyfriend Sergio Barraza, who prosecutors have said confessed to the murder and led authorities to the body. But at his trial in April he was let go for a lack of evidence. Photographs from that day showed Escobedo collapsing in a heap of despair, but she found her fortitude and began staging marches and demanding justice.
Most recently she had gone to the governor’s palace for three days and promised not to move until the investigation made progress. A security camera filmed a car pulling up to the building last Thursday night. In the video already viewed more than 1 million times on YouTube, Escobedo tries to flee but a gunman chases her across the road and shoots her in the head.