Red Shoes and Big Walls

December 10, 2012

Human rights activists in the Paso del Norte region marked December 10 in commemoration of the 64th anniversary of International Human Rights Day. On both sides of the border, order activists called attention to the struggles of women, immigrants and border residents.

In Ciudad Juarez, relatives of murdered and disappeared young women and their supporters displayed 300 pairs of red shoes in front of the offices of the northern district of the Chihuahua State Prosecutor. The shoes were placed as a protest against the lack of advances in clarifying hundreds of cases of slain and missing women.

Ernestina Enriquez, mother of Ciudad Juarez murder victim Adriana Sarmiento, demanded real justice for her young daughter. “I want to make it clear that I want a genuine guilty person, not an innocent one,” Enriquez was quoted in the local press. Sarmiento vanished in 2008, and although the teen’s remains were recovered the following year in the Juarez Valley her family was not notified of the discovery until last year.

Activists have previously displayed red shoes as a protest against femicide, using a tactic inspired by visual artist Eline Chauvet.

In neighboring El Paso, members of the Border Network for Human Rights (BNHR) scheduled a press conference and protest at the border fence dividing the U. S. and Mexico. In a statement preceding the planned events, the group raised links between human rights violations, border security and immigration reform.

“On the border, the violation of human rights is all too common,” the BNHR said. “These violations come in the form of walls, deportation, violence and disregard for Constitutional rights.” The activist organization cited the annual deaths of more than 500 people attempting to enter the U. S. in addition to “near-daily reports” of excessive force by border law enforcement as among the human rights violations occurring in the border region on a regular basis.

The BNHR criticized renewed calls for more border security in exchange for passage of immigration reform, an issue which is rapidly gaining momentum in Washington and across the U. S. in the wake of the 2012 elections.

“We are glad to see movement on immigration reform,” said Fernando Garcia, the BNHR’s executive director. “But enough is enough. We have to reform immigration in this country, but not at the expense of more and more enforcement against immigrant families.”

Garcia’s organization urged President Obama and Congress to halt the imposition of heavy-handed policies along the border and “instead turn their attention to the legalization of undocumented immigrants and then to figuring out how to make existing enforcement smart and accountable.”

Additional sources: El Diario de Juarez/El Paso, December 10, 2012. Article by Ramon Chaparro. Norte, December 10, 2012. Article by Herika Martinez Prado., December 10, 2012,, December 10, 2012.

Frontera NorteSur: on-line, U.S. -Mexico border news Center for Latin American and Border Studies New Mexico State University Las Cruces, New Mexico

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