WOMEN OF SAND
- Testimonies of women in Ciudad Juárez -
Documentary Theatre with texts by Antonio Cerezo Contreras, Marisela Ortiz,
Denise Dresser, Malú García Andrade, María Hope, Eugenia Muñoz y Juan Ríos
Cantú - Playwright: Humberto Robles
This play is dedicated to the memory of Pável González,
murdered in Mexico City on April 23, 2004.
¡Contra el olvido y la impunidad!
The idea for the play was the result of watching the mothers and relatives of the victims of femicide giving talks and conferences on the subject; they sit on a panel and begin to give their testimonies in order to educate, denounce, and give information about these crimes. This is what the play intends to reproduce.
The ideal order of placement for the actors onstage is the following: from left to right: Woman 3, Woman 1, Woman 4, Woman 2 and the Actor (if there is also a musician, he/she should be seated at the extreme left of the stage).
It is suggested that the performers wear black and white clothing.
SCENE 1: CIUDAD JUÁREZ
Four actresses and an actor/musician or separate musician on two benches. Five lit candles. Between the scenes it is suggested that there is musical accompaniment on a guitar. At the beginning of the play, one of the actors or a recording should say: This performance is dedicated to the memory of Pável Gonzalez, 21‐year‐old student and social activist, killed in Mexico City on April 23, 2004. Contra el olvido y la impunidad! We shall not forget. We shall not allow impunity!
ACTOR: According to reports, since 1993 more than 901 women have been murdered and over 600 are still missing in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua1. The climate of violence and impunity continues to grow without any concrete actions being taken to put an end to this femicide ... They are young women employed in maquilas or sweat shops, migrants... The murdered women of Ciudad Juárez are more than a statistic. They have names, faces and stories that are too often neglected...
WOMAN 1: Anyone who has not been in the desert does not know what “nothing” is.
WOMAN 2: "Nothing" is turning to the four cardinal points and finding precisely that: nothing.
WOMAN 3: The desert is a vast sea of sand, sand and dust.
WOMAN 4: And there is a silence that nothing can break.
WOMAN 1: The desert will always be the desert.
WOMAN 2: Through this dessert, thousands come and go.
WOMAN 3: Everyday, they cross under the immense sign that indicates they have reached the promised land.
WOMAN 4: "Ciudad Juárez ... The finest frontier in Mexico."
ACTOR: The "City of the Future" has turned into a graveyard.
WOMAN 1: And if your daughter or your mother or your sister suddenly disappeared one day? And if they were gone for weeks and months without you ever hearing from them?
WOMAN 2: And if you posted photos, descriptions of her, and fliers asking for help all over the place?
WOMAN 3: And if later, her body was found dumped in a vacant lot?
WOMAN 4: And if it were obvious that she had been raped, had parts of her body bitten off, and was strangled and mutilated?
WOMAN 1: And if she had been stabbed 20 times? And if they gave you her remains in a plastic bag?
WOMAN 2: And if the authorities paid no attention to you?
WOMAN 3: And if the federal government told you they couldn’t intervene because "that’s out of our jurisdiction"?
WOMAN 4: And if, after telling your story hundreds of times, the silence prevails.
WOMAN 1: Many questions, very few answers. Many murders, few found guilty .
ACTOR: In Cuidad Juárez, for more than 15 years, those who search for the missing women, find bones in the desert. There, for the past 15 years, being female and working in a maquiladora is to live in danger. For the past 15 years, the PRI and PAN political parties have turned a blind eye and washed their hands. In Ciudad Juárez nobody knows and nobody knew. Nobody has the political will to solve the crimes nor the capacity to prevent them. In Ciudad Juárez women live in fear.
SCENE 2: NATALIA
WOMAN 1: That's the way she was, exactly the same as in the photograph: her eyes dark black, so dark, the same as her hair: so, so dark. Natalia was my only daughter and the youngest of all my children. Maybe that’s why it hurts so much more that she's no longer here. She left early every morning to school, because she really wanted to study.
WOMAN 4: If I work hard, I will be somebody someday, Mamá.
WOMAN 1: That's what she’d say to me all the time, that's why she studied so hard. After school she’d come right home, she barely had time to eat lunch and then she’d go back to El Centro since she worked in a shoe store. Everything she earned she gave to me. On Sundays she would ask me for a little money to go with her friends and buy a soda or a snack. Sometimes she would like to go to the dances or festivals, like every young girl her age, she liked to have fun. She also loved to listen to Selena on her tape player and would always sing along. I remember how sad she got when she saw in the news that they had killed Selena. Natalia would come home every night at 8 o'clock. The day she went missing, the day she didn't come home, at 10 o'clock I told my husband that I was worried about my daughter, because she was never late. Then I felt anxious, and desperation set in. Dear God, what could have happened to her? Where could she be? We went to the police station but they told us we had to wait 72 hours to file a missing persons report. So right away we started looking for her everywhere, her father, her brothers and me. We went to the shoe store to ask the people who worked there if they’d heard anything about Natalia. Pos nada. We went to the hospitals, the Red Cross; y nada. We asked her friends from school, her teachers, y nada. Nobody had seen anything, nobody knew anything. Nada de nada. We even organized search parties through the desert looking for her body. Y nada. I couldn't sleep without knowing where my daughter could be, if she was sick, if she had been taken, what could have happened to her, why couldn't she at least call me? It all ended one day at the end of October, when they found several bodies in Lote Bravo. There she was in the morgue. When I saw her, I couldn't tell if it was my daughter or not. There were her clothes; her jeans, her white blouse, her shoes… but it wasn't her face, it wasn't her. The ones who identified her body were my husband and son, the eldest one. "It's Natalia, Mama."
WOMAN 3: Consider yourself lucky; they haven't been able to identify 70 bodies, out of the 500 homicides of women that have been committed in the last 16 years.
WOMAN 1: After all this, I lost my will, I lost my strength and I just didn’t want to live anymore. I started to hate Natalia. “M’ija, why, did you leave me?” I used to yell at her picture. “Can’t you see I can’t live like this anymore? Porque te fuiste?” Time passed and people came around asking about her. Some journalists said Natalia’s case was just like the other women who had been murdered in Juárez. I became furious, because people used to say those girls who had been killed were drug addicts, prostitutes, pos malvivientes.
WOMAN 2: They were asking for it. They lived a double life! They sold their bodies. They wore mini skirts. What else could they expect?
WOMAN 3: The murdered women of Ciudad Juárez are young women who hang out in dirty, skanky nightclubs. Cantineras who leave their homes to look for danger.
WOMAN 1: ¡Adió, mi hija no era de esas, qué va, ni Dios lo mande! But the journalists said otherwise, they told me most of the murdered young women were workers in the maquiladoras, young girls, even as young as 5 years old. And when I saw the photographs of those young women, I knew it was true. In each one of their faces, I saw my daughter. With those dark, black eyes, so dark…that dark, dark hair …it was as if they all had a little piece of Natalia. Then yes, I said, my daughter is one of the many murdered women of Juárez. That’s how reality struck, all of a sudden it hit me. That is why I am here, to give echo to the voice of Natalia, and all the other voices that have been violently silenced. Sometimes I get close to her portrait, to look at her. I stay there for hours, staring at her dark, black eyes, and her dark, dark hair.
I am a mother without her daughter.
I am a mother stripped of her daughter.
I am a mother whose daughter has been ripped from the garden of my heart.
My daughter in spring bloom, full of color, beautiful, full of dreams ‐ petals, fragrant, soft, loving, full of laughter, joy and charm.
I am a mother full of sadness, tears, and darkness without my daughter, my friend, my companion, my hope, my pride, my light, my love.
I am a mother with muted lips to call out to my daughter, with deaf ears to hear the music of her words, with blind eyes to see the sparks of life in her eyes.
I am a mother emptied, mutilated, drowning in the pain of living without my daughter, who was brutally, violently ripped from the garden of my heart .
SCENE 3: RECOMMENDATIONS
ACTOR: The multi‐national corporations and factory owners should take precautions for the safety of their workers but they do not. In Mexico, U.S. factories do not even pay taxes. At the same time, the government and authorities should do something to prevent and eradicate these crimes, but they do absolutely nothing. They are accomplices, by omission and negligence, of these murders. (Pause) As absurd as they may seem, the following recommendations pertain to the prevention campaign launched by the Police Department of the District of Juárez, in 1998:
WOMAN 3: If you go out at night, try to do so accompanied by one or more people.
WOMAN 4: If you go out alone: avoid dark or desolate streets.
WOMAN 1: Do not talk to strangers.
WOMAN 2: Do not dress provocatively.
WOMAN 3: Carry a whistle.
WOMAN 4: Do not accept drinks from strangers.
WOMAN 1: If you are attacked, shout "Fire" so more people will come to your aid.
WOMAN 2: Have the keys to your car or home handy.
WOMAN 3: If you are attacked sexually, induce vomiting, it's more likely that the aggressor will feel disgust and flee.
ACTOR: The murders of women in Ciudad Juárez are the cruelest in all of Mexico. In this border city, women are considered worse than garbage. The violence and impunity of the authorities make them walking targets. For example, the Penal Code of Chihuahua indicates that a man who rapes a woman “will receive a sentence of three to nine years in prison.” While, for cattle thieves, the Penal Code stipulates a sentence of six to forty years in jail.
SCENE 4: MICAELA
WOMAN 3: I remember you, Micaela, every morning when I wake, every time I go to sleep. I remember you all the time. Because you liked everything: the sunrise, gazing at the stars, the smell of flowers, the music on the radio, the carnivals, the little birds you kept in that cage. That’s the way you were, Micaela; you liked everything, you found a purpose in everything, that’s why everything around me now reminds me of you. Wherever I look, I see you. I always say: “learn from my cousin Quela, who likes everything, and that’s why she’s so happy”. One day you and I read in the newspaper that they had found the body of a young girl in the Santa Elena farms. She was one of the many murdered women. Her family had been looking for her for months.
WOMAN 4: The body of Gladys Yaneth Fierro Vargas, 12 years old, has been found in a cotton field, about 4 kilometers from Gomez Morin Boulevard. She had been strangled and raped. They took her by force one day before, when she was coming out of a school rehearsal.
WOMAN 3: We both said how horrible it must be to never hear from somebody ever again, that they could disappear like that, as if the desert swallowed them alive, and then they just turn up dead after so much time has passed. That’s why I am sure that you didn’t leave, Micaela, you were taken, in broad daylight, at 1 o’clock in the afternoon. That’s the worst part, we all think that during the night it’s much more dangerous, but no, in the daytime, too. You know that, Micaela.
WOMAN 2: We look for you always. We pass out flyers with your photo, on the busses, in the streets, in the stores, everywhere. Young Woman Missing.
WOMAN 3: Your parents went to the police station to file a missing person’s report and I went with them. And there, when we were with the agents, I realized that the police don’t pay any attention to the situation, that they were not going to do anything. They didn’t investigate; they didn’t give us any clues, no. On the contrary, the files are all poorly written, they’re garbage. They make things up, pure lies. They contradict themselves all the time; according to them you were the worst kind of girl. That’s what they put in the files; that you were a drug addict, that you went out with a lot of boys, that you went to nightclubs and bars. Then I thought, “Well, and so what if that were true? Let’s say that you were that way, what would be so wrong with that? The life of a woman like that is worth just as much as yours, just like any other.”
ACTOR: It is believed that the women are executed during the filming of videos in which their deaths are caught on tape, the so‐called snuff films. According to some sources, we know that some of these movies are sold for between 70 and 100 thousand dollars. This has been classified as “demented and repulsive” and that is why it is so alarming that the government does not respond nor take action in this matter.
WOMAN 3: And the investigators, in terms of what they should be investigating: nothing, but in terms of knowing about our lives and our business, of course; what time we did this or that, how we live, what we think, who we go out with. They figure that, because we’re poor, that we’re dumb, that we have no ambitions, no desire to better ourselves. They say, “they’re from the outskirts, poor women, of low means”. Yes, poor yes, but not stupid. It’s been such a long time that nobody looks for you Micaela, only us. One day I heard two politicians on TV saying that the number of women murdered in Ciudad Juárez was being exaggerated, that it was only around 69. I ask myself: how many murdered women would they like in order to put a stop to the killings? How many dead women is a lot, your honors? The way we’re going, I think that the killings will never be stopped: the only thing we have left is to demand that the government put a stop to this wave of crimes.
WOMAN 1: To lose your father, your mother, to lose your husband, will never be the same as losing something, something of your own, a part of yourself. A child is part of me, and I will never compare the loss of another family member with the loss of my daughter.
WOMAN 3: In recent years there have been many Micaelas in Ciudad Juárez. Or Sagrarios, or others, depending on the new names that keep appearing in the local papers. Each report seems like the same story, multiplied 100, 200, 300 times or more.
WOMAN 2: The long list of names of the murdered women has been appearing on the pink crosses: Lilia Alejandra, Berenice, Airis Estrella, Alma Mireya, Elizabeth, Gloria, Leticia, Perla… (All the names are repeated at liberty in whispers) They are all our daughters, they are all our departed.
WOMAN 3: Ever since you left we make flyers and posters to ask the government to ensure justice, because this cannot continue this way, something must be done. Because it hasn’t been one, or 10, or 50…there are now more than 500 women who have ended up like Micaela, along with all of the other women who are still missing…! I will never stop talking about her. I cannot stop until the violence stops.
ACTOR: Only then will it be possible to change a blind, deaf and sexist society. Only then will it be possible to ensure that there are no more murders, not one more missing woman. Only then will we raise consciousness that the rights of women are not different nor second class. So that the women in Ciudad Juárez, and the rest of the country, can live without fear. So that the women will not have to march in mourning, dressed in black .
WOMAN 4: We don’t ask for much: we only want justice. That all the murders be solved and that the government do something to stop all of this. That they let us live and work in peace. That we can walk outside our homes without fear. That we won’t have to live petrified thinking that one of us may not return home one day. That someone turns their eyes to Juárez and says “Enough! Stop the impunity, not a single murder more!” Is that too much to ask?
WOMAN 3: Sometimes I go to the window and look out at the street. I look all around, searching for you, Micaela, trying to find you in other faces. I know that you’ll return, waving to me, saying “look cousin, what a beautiful day” or you’ll come running to tell me “let’s make some burritos and go out to the porch to watch the rain”. Even though it’s been so long since you left and no one has found you, I’m still hoping you come back home. That’s why I look out the window, to wait for you, because I know that one day you’ll come back, one day you’ll return, so we can talk about our lives, sing, and so that you can share a little bit of your laughter and your joy with us, Micaela. I know you’ll come back… I know you’ll come back…
SCENE 5: Poem by Antonio Cerezo Contreras
ACTOR: The following is a poem by Antonio Cerezo Contreras, who was a political prisoner held in a maximum security facility, a hostage of the government along with his brothers, Hector and Alejandro Cerezo Contreras, social activists detained by the government within camps on charges of "terrorism and delinquency". They too were victims of impunity in our country.
WOMAN 3: As if it were not enough
To strip you of life
Among the cold machines
WOMAN 1: As if the desert
Coveted your blood
The summertime rain
To see flowers blooming in its cactus
WOMAN 4: As if your wailing
Were the necessary wind
That drags the sand
To cover up the lips
WOMAN 2: As if your brown skin
Were the drum that called out to
WOMAN 3: As if only your flesh
Were the favorite food
Of vultures and dogs
WOMAN 1: May it be your severed nipples
The eyes through which they see
WOMAN 4: May your cries
Which pierce their eardrums be their songs
when the wretched seek comfort
WOMAN 2: May it be the color of your beaten flesh
The tone of the makeup
Of their happy days
WOMAN 3: May it be your sweet‐scented, braided hair
The rope on which hangs daily
Each and every one
Of their dreams
WOMAN 1: May it be your torment
Their breakfast, lunch and dinner
And your cross
Burning green firewood in the center of their chests .
SCENE 6 LILIA ALEJANDRA
ACTOR: Among other surprising things, even though people have been detained and jailed for the murders, often with falsified evidence and confessions obtained by force and torture, not one case has been resolved. Not one out of the 100 serial killings, nor any of the over 900 murders of women in Ciudad Juárez since 1993. Not one. And now it is normal for the state government and the local businessmen to accuse those who ask for justice as “traitors” and of “ruining the good name of Ciudad Juárez”. This is an excerpt of a letter written by Malu Garcia Andrade, sister of Lilia Alejandra, who disappeared February 14 and whose body was found on the 21 of February in 2001.
WOMAN 2: I want you to imagine your daughter, your sister, your cousin, your girlfriend or your wife. Imagine that she is leaving her home to go to work or school. You can picture how beautiful she looks as she walks, with an angelic expression. She reflects her passion for life through the sparkle in her eyes, which reveals her happiness. Imagine that on her way home, a car blocks her path, and three men get out. One of them grabs her by the hair, the other by her feet, and they force her into the car to kidnap her. Imagine that they get to a house and they enter one of the rooms. There they throw her to the ground while the three men look at her face, which now reflects terror. Imagine one of the men goes to her, binds her hands and lays her on the table. She tries to defend herself; he lifts his arm, closes his fist, and punches her in the nose. Then he extends his arm again, to punch her in the mouth, so she’ll stop yelling:
WOMAN 4: Stop, please! Mamá, Papá: Help me. Help me. Someone please help me! God, why me? Please, no more! No, no, no!
WOMAN 2: Imagine this young woman saying these things while she is being beaten and raped, saying these words with a broken voice, and with tears pouring down her face. In that instant he finishes raping her; but once he is finished the agony of this young woman is not over, because there are still two other men in the room… Another one comes close, he is smoking and puts out his cigarette on one of her arms. He starts to bite her breasts, begins to rape her, and in this way the three men torture her. Once they are done, they throw her to the floor and they start to kick her only to then leave her there in a pool of blood, raped and disgraced with the utmost cruelty and malice. She continues to suffer for a day, two days, three days until the rapists realize that she is unable to take it any longer and decide to kill her. Imagine that one of them gets close to her, puts his hands around her neck to strangle her. Despite the beating she has endured, she tries to defend herself but she can’t, and he succeeds in his objective, to kill her. But this is not enough for the other two, so another one of them grabs her by the face, to violently twist and snap her neck. Her lifeless body lays there, with a broken nose, busted lips, blackened eyes, her arms with cigarette burns, her scarred legs, her wrists bruised from being tied up, and her breasts bitten away. The men wrap the body in a blanket and throw her in the car, they drive out to an empty lot to leave her body there. But the pain and suffering does not end there because the family has yet to find out what this young girl has just suffered…Imagine what comes next… No, we are not here to seek pity, nor do we want false promises from the government. We do not want statistics, or numbers that do not reflect the reality of women in Ciudad Juárez. The public and the NGO’s demand that the Mexican State put an end to the impunity in regards to the murders of women in Ciudad Juárez and to end the harassment that the families of the victims and the defenders of human rights suffer. We ask for respect and above all, we demand that they let us live!
SCENE 7: PRAYER FOR THE MURDERED WOMEN OF JUÁREZ
ACTOR: During a session of the United Nations’ Commission on Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur submitted a report on the homicide of women in Ciudad Juárez. The Rapporteur was shocked by the absolute inefficiency, incompetence, indifference, callousness and negligence of the police who had carried out the investigations up to that point. It was clear to the Special Rapporteur that these killings were not effectively or exhaustively investigated, that is, if there was some kind of investigation to begin with. "The murders of young and poor women began to be documented in Ciudad Juárez in 1993 ... In 2001 the terror spreads to the city of Chihuahua ... This femicide, this low intensity war, where and when will it end? "
WOMAN 1: Prayer for the murdered women of Juárez.
WOMAN 4: Madre:
you who inhabit heaven
wind, sea and land,
prisons and brothels,
factories and courtrooms,
stinking garbage dumps,
dens of thieves
and ministerial houses,
WOMEN 3 & 4: Thy kingdom come!
WOMAN 3: Do not forgive
those who rape us,
do not forgive
those who kill us,
do not forgive
those who bury our bones
beneath the desert sands.
May their will be done no more.
WOMEN 3 &; 2: Look upon us and hear our prayers:
WOMAN 2: They bite down and tear off our nipples.
They incinerate our bodies with matches and gasoline.
They switch our clothes from one corpse to the next
so that our mothers and fathers
They plant our eyes in the ground
and water their hatred with our tears...
WOMAN 1: We do not know how they dress.
We do not know from where they get their money.
We do not know if they have other forms of entertainment.
If they have daughters
or if their daughters are also poor and working‐class
or study in the evenings
and walk alone through dark streets on their way back home.
WOMAN 4: We know nothing about them
only that they want a world without us,
the women of Juárez,
Those of long hair
and dawning breasts,
brown bodies where dreams dance,
and life is celebrated.
WOMAN 3: Women, Mother, like you,
the banished daughters of Eve,
those who remain pleading on their knees.
Heed our cry, listen:
They have accomplices,
they do not act alone.
In the maquilas,
in the police force,
in the government,
in the drug cartels,
in heaven as in hell
they have accomplices,
but nobody knows who they are.
WOMAN 2: We came here today to implore you,
hear our prayers,
do not ignore our pleas:
May these criminals be hidden no longer,
may our murders not go unpunished,
may our blood,
and that of our sisters,
fertilize the heart of the earth where they lie
and give us courage, strength.
WOMAN 1: Do not protect our murderers
do not conceal their offenses under your cloak.
Deliver us from fear,
Permit us our rage
And lead us not into the temptation
of hopelessness .
SCENE 8: HOW MANY MURDERED WOMEN WILL IT TAKE?
ACTOR: To the president of Mexico ... the Governor of the State ... the Prosecuting Attorney... and the competent authorities we ask:
WOMAN 4: How many murdered women will it take?
ACTOR: When the authorities label the homicide rate of women in Ciudad Juárez as "normal", we would have to ask ourselves, what kind of crimes are they talking about?
WOMAN 1: How many murdered women will it take?
ACTOR: If they are referring to the more than 900 women, between the ages of 5 and 25, of similar physical and social characteristics, whose autopsy reports have led experts on an international scale to verify the possible involvement of one or more serial killers, they are wrong.
WOMAN 2: How many murdered women will it take?
ACTOR: The government insists that what killed the victims in Ciudad Juárez was a lack of values, going out at night, going to bars and dance clubs, leading a double life, dressing provocatively...
WOMAN 3: How many murdered women will it take?
ACTOR: This rhetoric becomes insulting, almost immoral, when we analyze in more detail who the murdered women of Ciudad Juárez are, because no one asks to be penetrated with a PVC pipe, or have their nipple bitten off, or bleed to death in the desert...
WOMAN 1: Least of all a 13‐year‐old girl on her way to high school ...
WOMAN 4: How many murdered women will it take?
WOMAN 2: Least of all a young woman of 16 who is saving up to go to the university...
WOMAN 1: How many murdered women will it take?
WOMAN 3: Least of all a worker who gets up at 4 am in the winter to try to improve her life and that of her family.
WOMAN 2: How many murdered women will it take?
ACTOR: The barbarity knows no limits, exceeding all logic and reason: the young girls, Brenda Berenice Delgado Rodriguez age 5, Airis Estrella Enriquez age 7, and Anahi Orozco age 10, were sexually assaulted, tortured and killed.
ALL: How many murdered women will it take?!
SCENE 9: ERENDIRA
WOMAN 4: "Dear Diary: I hear music everywhere. It’s always on my mind. When I’m talking, wash the dishes or when I am at work, my feet move almost without me realizing it, following a rhythm that comes from within me and that only I can hear. How I would love to be an artist! I even recorded a cassette with a song so that everyone can listen to me when I'm not around. Sometimes I dream I am on a stage, hearing the incredible applause of the audience and I get excited. I promise I am going to be a big star."
WOMAN 1: The nightmare began on Tuesday, August 18, 1998. Erendira had gone to work and never returned. We were devastated. She never went out, much less without letting us know and had never not come home. I remember the day when she left. "Que Dios te bendiga", I said before I left for work. I noticed something: her eyes sparkled in a special way that day.
WOMAN 4: "Dear Diary: I have so many plans for the future that my head hurts just from thinking about them over and over again. I love to write but I also love to sing. Sometimes I grab a broom and start dancing all around the house. I don’t think I'll leave here until I get married. At least that’s what I hope."
WOMAN 2: After a few hours, we decided to go to the police station. I still can’t seem to understand how no one is able to feel compassion for the pain a mother experiences from knowing her daughter is missing. Then the downpour of questions: If she had a boyfriend, if she had problems, if she used drugs, that we’ll just have to wait and see what happens ...
WOMAN 1: I got tired of repeating it: we are not from here, we are from Zacatecas. We came to Ciudad Juárez for a better life.
WOMAN 2: They didn’t seem to understand that my sister was lost and that we were going crazy not being able to find her.
WOMAN 4: "Dear Diary: I forgot something very important: I have not introduced myself. My full name is Erendira Ivonne Ponce Hernández. I was born on January 24, 1981. My natural hair color is dark brown but I dye it burgundy auburn, my eyes are dark brown but I usually wear violet contact lenses. I have brown skin and I am 17 years old under the sign of Aquarius. The songs that I like are: Igual que Ayer by the Enanitos Verdes, El Mañana Nunca Muere, Cuando un Hombre Ama a una Mujer and Quien Diria by Ricardo Arjona. I have 8 brothers and sisters, 5 women and 3 men. Four are already married and I have three nieces and nephews. I love my parents, Maria Rosario Hernandez and Federico Ponce, with all the love in the world."
WOMAN 3: Of course! We had hoped she would appear at the kitchen door, smiling and telling us that it was just a joke. That she had stayed with a friend or was upset with one of us ... But Erendira never returned. She had dated some boys ‐ only one in the recent past, but she always had the feeling that she had not yet met the love of her life.
WOMAN 4: "Dear Diary: I'm a hopeless romantic and I dream of finding the love of my life. The key to know who I will marry will be in the man who will give me a rose and with whom I will dance to the song “Cuando un Hombre Ama a Una Mujer”, "When a man loves a Woman". My dream is to marry, live in a comfortable house, have a husband to have fun with and a darling little child who will call me mamá. My ideal man has long wavy hair, blue eyes, fair skin, is about 6 feet tall, not too muscular, who is nice, has a car and a bank account with over 100 thousand pesos. Just kidding, I’m joking, all I want is a good man who loves me and with whom I can raise a happy family.
WOMAN 1: I remember the worst days of our lives. After twelve days of agony, insomnia, we finally heard some news about her. It's horrible to feel that everyone is looking at you through mysterious glances telling you there is something else that they are not saying. When we reached the station they showed me a picture in which I could make out a dress, but some parts had been covered up ... I realized that there was more than the cloth ... there was a body in the dress.
WOMAN 2: Then I suddenly realized. Erendira was dead. I wanted to see her. I wanted to recognize her, be sure that it was her, but there was nothing left that was recognizable. Her face was covered but I uncovered it. The only things I recognized were her teeth, her fingernails, her feet and hair. It was her. Erendira was there, dead.
WOMAN 3: Unidentified female body, Number 60 out of 98. Discovered at 6:00 pm on September 16, 1998. Physically fit, dark skin, mixed race, 4 feet 9 inches deceased 45 to 55 days. The body was found face down, hands tied behind her back with her purse strap. The assailants left no trace or clue. Although most of her belongings were found, her shoes and purse were missing.
WOMAN 1: Sometimes they hand over a bag of bones. "There, that’s your daughter," they say. "But how can there be only bones left in just two months? A body takes much longer to decompose. "Well if you don’t want it, leave it." Some people have asked for DNA tests to verify the identity of the victim. "Oh! That’s very expensive and it takes a long time." In the end, you just have to resort to believing that this bag of bones are those of your daughter. It seems absurd, but I really thought the police and the government were on our side.
WOMAN 2: Now, I cling to the journal of Erendira. It’s the only thing through which she continues to talk to me. I read it to hear her muted voice. This is where my sister recorded her last thoughts, her tastes for food, for clothing, for boys. Where she expressed her deep affection for her parents and her brothers and sisters. A notebook in which she recorded her feelings two days before she died.
WOMAN 4: Dear Diary: I don’t know what's wrong with me. I'm afraid. Today I woke up with the overwhelming need to write everything I can on these pages. So don’t be surprised if you find crazy things like the list of lunches, soda and fruit I ate today or the clothes I need to buy to dress up. I just know I need to write, write and write to go on living. Or so that someone can live through what I write. On second thought, it’s not fear that I feel. It's a hunch. A hunch that I will discover something. A secret. The biggest secret in the whole world.
SCENE 10: IS THERE A GOD CLOSE TO JUÁREZ?
ACTOR: The mothers of the murdered or disappeared women in Ciudad Juárez and Chihuahua wake up every morning to do their chores, the housework, go to work while continuing to demand justice. For them, the celebrations of Mother's Day have been reduced to memories of their massacred daughters. Without a choice, they have had to abruptly assume motherhood once again, for now it is they who are responsible for the victims’ daughters and sons. In Ciudad Juárez women are killed for being women. Being female, young, pretty and poor means to become a victim of the murderers. Woman’s body: peril of death.
ALL: Is there a God close to Juárez?
ACTOR: An animal.
A living creature, wild.
A monster without conscience, who doesn’t think.
One of the herd that has no respect for its equals:
He calls himself a man.
It would be wrong to call him an animal
That word derives from anima: movement, soul.
Rather a soulless man the man who kills
and kills himself in the act of killing.
WOMAN 1: Take death within your memory
May it blame you silently and corrupt you
That your conscience awaken and may not tire
Killer of dreams (another dream, your own)
How can you sleep? And how is it that you awaken?
How could it be that you return again and again to the scene of the crime?
And no God has seen you?
WOMAN 2: The femininity of Juárez is being raped
Mutilated of its sex and voice
Divorced of its freedom.
God, give her voice and wind that will carry her,
God of God, give her wings, not for her to flee:
But for her to stay
in her place, the woman.
God of God of God
She is not asking you for heaven, she asks you for land, her land.
Is there a God close to Juárez?
WOMAN 3: Juárez of foreign investment:
The exploited hands of your daughters wave goodbye
With clenched fists and sometimes without fists to clench.
ACTOR: Screams in the oblivion.
WOMAN 4: This one was wearing a very short skirt, this one was found without clothing...
WOMAN 2: This one the clothing of another, this one burned, this one without teeth...
WOMAN 1: This one without breasts, this one without herself.
WOMAN 3: ‐ Have you read the local paper?
ACTOR: The news is spreading by word of mouth.
WOMAN 3: And the newscast devotes an hour to a traffic incident,
Sunday's game or the marriage of some public figure.
And on a talk show there’s a poll to give our nation,
"voice and vote"
What do you think of Gloria Trevi's release from jail?
Fair. Unfair. Kind of fair. A little fair.
Dial 1 900 555‐1212
What option suits you?
ACTOR: Does anyone in Mexico know what fair is?
WOMAN 4: Juárez, the border of reality
A blood‐red wild river overflows
and floods our rage.
Get out of my heart, hate, get out.
You may not kill my peace, you who know nothing of peace.
Do not stain my heart with your filth
I want to keep believing in the possibility of another world
‐ I light a candle ‐‐
In which the religion of man is to love the God of God:
ACTOR: Juárez mother, worried for your daughters
Looking out the window
Hoping that she arrives and not the bad news
Juárez man, with his eyes open at night
With more questions than stars
With his argument exhausted. Do not tire.
Daughter, girl, woman Juárez. Do not be silent.
WOMAN 1: Juárez, ancestral cry
Where does your name come from?
Who has spoken of peace and law and respect?
Why invoke famous quotes that ring hollow in our ears?
WOMAN 2: An old factory of heroes and fallacies is what the government has left us:
Make a nation, they say.
No. Make the world. Make Juárez: a place.
WOMAN 3: Juárez, raise up your voice to cure justice of its deafness.
May your reason and your sanity also be raised,
May your peace be restored.
Juárez, my deepest condolences.
If my hands do nothing, let my word take action.
WOMAN 4: May the daughter, the sister and the mother return
home from work when evening falls .
In the end, everyone blows out their candles, except for the Actor:
ACTOR: As long as one light exists, hope remains that our women, our sisters, our daughters will return home.
The ACTOR leaves his candle lit.
‐ END ‐
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Translation by ACES: Arte Colectivo en Solidaridad and Amanda Federici