Aug 28, 2007

The Daughters of Juárez

Crime fiction often leads to a disproportionate interest in real crime. We look for crimes in the papers. We watch the news carefully. We look for both low crime and high misdemeanors. In 1995 I was introduced to the crimes in Juárez by my nightly news. The publicity quickly died. The crime grew. A group of people continue to follow those crimes and the political and economical circumstances that allow this blight to continue.

For the few of you who may not know what I’m speaking of, The desert of Juárez holds a secret. For the last 15 years it has become the de facto graveyard for hundreds of dead girls. Ranging in age from very young into their early twenties these feminine corpses are screaming to be heard but few are listening. 15 years later the danger to any female who finds herself alone in the desert is just as great as it was when the first bodies were discovered in 1993.

There are theories of the crime and there have been investigations into the crime. People have been convicted of the crimes. The crimes continue.

When I received a copy of the new true crime tale THE DAUGHTERS OF JUÁREZ I dove right in. Written by Univision reporter Teresa Rodriguez, I expected a thoughtful and fact checked accounting of the history of El Paso’s sister city. What I got was much more. It is rare to read a true crime book that doesn’t rely on the writer’s supposition of facts. Rodriguez avoids this at all costs. She introduces us to the victims families, frustrated authorities and neighborhoods where people living in abstract poverty are doing their best to look out for one another. She relays interviews she’s conducted with people convicted of some of these crimes. She reports on forensics and government policies. She speaks of the socio-economical environment. Reports of traditional values held by the residents of Juárez . What she does with fact is BRING HOME THE HORROR OF THESE CRIMES.

By avoiding theory of the crime in her presentation Rodriguez maintains a credibility in this book that I rarely find in “true crime” novels. Instead she gives those of us living on this side of the border an insight into one of the most terrifying stories of our age. If a body falls in the desert will anyone hear it cry?

It is my hope that Rodriguez’s book will command the attention of two nations. For we need to listen to the cries. With the official death toll at over 450, continued silence is unacceptable.

I recommend this book to all who care about the state of our world.



Steven said...

Don't forget the novel DESERT BLOOD by Alicia Gaspar de Alba.

Kathryn Lilley said...

Ruth, this sounds like such an important book. I also read DESERT BLOOD by Alician Gaspar de Alba, and heard her give a talk. It is hard to believe that such tragedies unfold, just south of our border, to a deafening silence by the media.