- STAFF PICKS
- GIFTS + GIFT CARDS
- SELL BOOKS
- FIND A STORE
The Daughters of Juarez: A True Story of Serial Murder South of the Borderby Teresa Rodriguez and Diana Montane and Lisa Pulitzer
Synopses & Reviews
Despite the fact that Juarez is a Mexican border city just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, most Americans are unaware that for more than twelve years this city has been the center of an epidemic of horrific crimes against women and girls, consisting of kidnappings, rape, mutilation, and murder, with most of the victims conforming to a specific profile: young, slender, and poor, fueling the premise that the murders are not random.
Indeed, there has been much speculation that the killer or killers are American citizens. While some leading members of the American media have reported on the situation, prompting the U.S. government to send in top criminal profilers from the FBI, little real information about this international atrocity has emerged. According to Amnesty International, as of 2006 more than 400 bodies have been recovered, with hundreds still missing.
As for who is behind the murders themselves, the answer remains unknown, although many have argued that the killings have become a sort of blood sport, due to the lawlessness of the city itself. Among the theories being considered are illegal trafficking in human organs, ritualistic satanic sacrifices, copycat killers, and a conspiracy between members of the powerful Juárez drug cartel and some corrupt Mexican officials who have turned a blind eye to the felonies, all the while lining their pockets with money drenched in blood.
Despite numerous arrests over the last ten years, the murders continue to occur, with the killers growing bolder, dumping bodies in the city itself rather than on the outskirts of town, as was initially the case, indicating a possible growing and most alarming alliance of silence and cover-up by Mexican politicians.
The Daughters of Juárez promises to be the first eye-opening, authoritative nonfiction work of its kind to examine the brutal killings and draw attention to these atrocities on the border. The end result will shock readers and become required reading on the subject for years to come.
"The first body was found on Jan. 23, 1993. Alma Chavira Farel had been raped, beaten and strangled before being dumped in a vacant lot on the outskirts of Ciudad Juarez. Five months later another victim turned up, her body too mangled to be identified. By year's end, the tally hit 16 — all dark-haired young women, mutilated and ditched in the barren desert across the Rio Grande from El Paso. More... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) bodies kept appearing, about 400 over 13 years. Arrests have been made, investigators replaced, protests staged and fingers pointed. Still the slaughter of women continues. It is the stuff of a 'CSI' thriller. Indeed, two Hollywood movies have fictionalized the story. But the cases are very real, and now, finally, the scandal is getting the serious treatment it deserves in 'The Daughters of Juarez,' which is being touted as the first nonfiction account in English of the unsolved murders. Teresa Rodriguez, a reporter with the U.S.-based Spanish-language network Univision, made four trips to Juarez, returning with a tale that may seem unbelievable to those who have not spent time in Mexico. With assists from co-authors Diana Montane and Lisa Pulitzer, Rodriguez describes an industrial border city in which indifference, incompetence and sexism enabled a serial killer — or more likely several — to operate unchecked for more than a decade. Rodriguez introduces American readers to a Mexican culture in which men dominate, the rule of law means little, women are devalued, corruption runs rampant and some people actually blame the victims. As state prosecutor Arturo Gonzalez Rascon callously put it: 'Women with a nightlife who go out very late and come into contact with drinkers are at risk.' Rodriguez is at times overly reliant on cliches — corpses 'pile up like cordwood,' for instance, and 'the names and the faces have changed, but the stories are sadly the same.' Much of the reporting comes from unnamed or secondary sources, and the story sometimes travels down curious tangents. (A case of spousal abuse is one puzzling example.) The book also lacks a bibliography and sourcing notes, which might have added credibility. But when Rodriguez focuses on the women and their stories, the book is compelling and valuable. Contrary to widespread perceptions, few of the victims were prostitutes. Many worked 12-hour shifts in the U.S.-owned maquiladoras, traveling to and from the factories before sunrise or after midnight, often on foot. We meet Lilia Garcia, a 17-year-old mother of two who attended college prep school at night after working all day in a maquiladora that made water massage equipment. There's Silvia Morales, who sang in a church choir and sold shoes in a respectable downtown shop. And Claudia Ivette Gonzalez, who was turned away from her job at the Lear Corp. factory after arriving four minutes late. 'A month later her corpse was discovered buried in a field near a busy Juarez intersection,' Rodriguez writes. 'Next to her lay the bodies of seven other young women.' Rodriguez and her co-authors capture well the contrast between the two worlds of Juarez: 'While the young girls were assembling sophisticated circuit boards' in modern, air-conditioned factories with 'access to sparkling indoor showers ... and complimentary hot and cold meals ... they were facing illnesses like cholera and tuberculosis at home. Many ... were surviving in seventeenth-century conditions, confronting life without plumbing and electricity in cardboard and tar-paper hovels with no floors or foundations.' Outrage comes, however, not only in the murders, but in the way they are handled by police and prosecutors, who at best are inept and at worst likely involved in the crimes they are investigating. In the week before Lilia Garcia's body was found, police received an emergency call of a 'rape in progress' in a barren field 300 yards from the factory where she worked. Police arrived 70 minutes later but said they found 'nothing to report.' A few days later, the body of Garcia, who had been beaten, raped, strangled and burned, was discovered in the same lot. An autopsy revealed handcuff bruises on her wrists. Throughout 'The Daughters of Juarez,' suspects are locked up based on circumstantial evidence or coerced confessions. Bodies are misidentified, a lawyer is killed gangland style, and experts from Amnesty International detail egregious investigative errors. Were they not so horrifying and sad, some elements of this tale would be laughable. Even after authorities had arrested Abdel Latif Sharif Sharif in connection with the killings, bodies continued to appear. When asked how that was possible, police claimed the Egyptian was directing members of Los Rebeldes gang to keep killing local girls — from his jail cell. Later, special prosecutor Suly Ponce claimed Sharif Sharif was hiring several bus drivers to commit a fresh batch of killings in 1999. Most troubling, though, is the lack of answers. As recently as November, one victim's mother expressed doubts about the guilt of two men charged in her daughter's death. 'We don't want scapegoats. We don't want torture ... or lies,' she said. 'What I want is the truth.'" Reviewed by Patrick Anderson, whose e-mail address is mondaythrillers(at symbol)aol.comCarolyn See, who can be reached at www.carolynsee.comCeci Connolly, a Washington Post staff writer on leave in Mexico City, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
(hide most of this review)
"Here's the deal: you are murdered and your death is not counted, you are murdered and your death is not investigated, you are murdered and someone is framed for your death. This is Juárez, the jewel of our free trade theories. This is a book everyone should read. And then wonder about the United States and Mexico and this hell of dead women they paper over with lies." Charles Bowden, award-winning author of Down by the River
"The Daughters of Juárez is a book you cannot put down and will never forget — it will shock you and it should. The authors have done a remarkable job piecing this horrific puzzle into one lucid account of the atrocities that have befallen Juárez, Mexico. This is truly an extraordinary book." Isabel Allende
"The Daughters of Juárez is a crucial, chilling, and detailed account of the mutilations and murders of hundreds of women and girls in Juárez, Mexico. It is a cry for an end to these atrocities and it is a righteous call, after all these years of horror, for justice now." Eve Ensler, Obie Award-winning playwright and founder of V-Day, a global movement to stop violence against women
"The Daughters of Juárez not only investigates, with facts and information, but illuminates how innocence and purity are sacrificed almost daily on this desert altar. Teresa Rodriguez's book can make a difference only if you and I get involved to assure that this will never happen again to anyone." Carlos Santana
A former "New York Times" correspondent and true crime writer team up to create the first major work based on the ongoing, international atrocities of more than 300,000 confirmed female homicides with 600 women still missing in the border town of Juarez, Mexico.
What Our Readers Are Saying
Average customer rating based on 1 comment:
Other books you might like