Latino USA

Archive for the ‘Violence Prevention’ Category

Femicide in Guatemala

In Guatemala, as in many Latin American countries, violence against women is at a frightful level. With a population of 14 million, Guatemala officially counts more than four thousand violent murders of women from 2000-2008: 98% of the cases remain unsolved.

A mixture of misogyny, culturally-based gender inequality, and continuing corruption and impunity all add to the tragedy of these deaths. (You can read the report of the Guatemala Human Rights Commission on Femicide.)

A Guatemalan woman seeking asylum in the United States made her case on those grounds. An appeals court ruling in her favor has raised the possibility that more women may seek shelter in the United States to avoid becoming victims of femicide. Katie Davis talks with Allen Hutchinson, the woman’s lawyer.


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Violence in Bolivia

Over the past couple of years, women in Bolivia have been subjected to violent crime at a dramatically high rate. But a new law seeks to curb the violence, and to finally bring perpetrators to justice. The Fonografia Collective’s Ruxandra Guidi reports from El Alto, Bolivia.


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Juarez Killings

Over the past decade, Juarez, Mexico, just across the river from El Paso, Texas, has garnered much unwanted attention. The murder of women and girls lured to the border by the promise of jobs in the maquila industry emerged in the late 1990s. And the first decade of the 21st century saw a major increase in drug-related violence.

It’s hard to avoid gruesome murder photos constantly in the Mexican media. But the recent killings of Americans and Mexicans connected to the American consul in Juarez have again shocked the community. Questions quickly arose as to why drug gangs would target the American embassy. But American FBI units have said that Americans were not specifically targeted and could have been caught in a case of mistaken identity.

Alfredo Corchado has been following the drug violence for years as Mexico bureau chief for the Dallas Morning News.


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Documenting Border Violence

In January of 2009, independent producer Scott Carrier produced a report for NPR’s Day-to-Day program (now defunct). In it, Scott followed around a Mexican photographer whose job it was to photograph gruesome drug-related murder scenes before the bodies were taken away to the local morgue. Most of the photos would appear in the next morning’s newspapers.

Here again is that broadcast.


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This story was part of Day to Day’s “Hearing Voices” series. CLICK HERE to link to the original broadcast dated January 5, 2009.

U.S.-Mexico Border Violence

Murders are a daily occurrence along the U.S.-Mexico border. Fueled by the drug trade, the killings no longer necessarily make the front pages of newspapers in communities such as El Paso and Ciudad Juarez. Maria talks with Latino USA contributor Monica Ortiz Uribe about the current state of affairs along the border.


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Miguel Turriza, a reporter for Noticias Cablecom, found himself in the crossfire in February in Reynosa, Mexico.

In Memorium: Esther Chavez Cano [1933 – 2009]

When Esther Chavez Cano first organized protests in 1993 in Ciudad Juarez, hers was the initiating voice against “femicide,” a term given to the murder of hundreds of women in this border town. She accused local police and political leaders of covering up the murders and chided local media for not paying enough attention to the crimes. And her protests led to international attention on the murder of women and girls in Juarez.

But Chavez was more than simply an organizer. She was also a healer. She went on to found the city’s first rape crisis center known simply as Casa Amiga. She traveled the world raising awareness of the murders in Juarez, and raising money for the center. In 2008, Mexican President Felipe Calderón presented Chavez with the country’s highest human rights award. Her center also receives support by Mexican federal grants.

Chavez succumbed to cancer on Christmas Day, 2009. El Paso reporter Monica Ortiz Uribe has this remembrance.


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Hate Crimes Task Force

On Nov. 8, 2008, Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant, was murdered in the town of Patchogue, New York. Police say that several teenagers who called themselves the “Caucasian Crew” were partaking of a little sport they called “beaner jumping” when they beat Marcelo Lucero to death.

Among other things, the incident led to the formation of the Suffolk County Hate Crimes Task Force, pictured above. What the task force quickly learned was that Lucero wasn’t the only beating victim by these and other teens.

A new report released by the Southern Poverty Law Center documents the “Climate of Fear” in Suffolk County. It goes on to name names of political leaders they identify as hate “enablers.”

Mark Potok is director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project and editor of the new report. He speaks with Latino USA’s Maria Hinojosa about the fears of immigrants in Suffolk County, New York.


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El Paso’s New Emphasis on Domestic Violence

In the 1950s and 60s, police often treated cases of domestic violence as personal family issues. Many women’s groups and activists worked throughout the 1970s and 1980s to change attitudes of prosecutors and law enforcement groups. But the issues surrounding domestic violence don’t simply go away with an attitude change.

El Paso District Attorney Jaime Esparza

In El Paso, Texas, teams of officers and victims advocates specializing in domestic violence cases are charged with investigating such complaints within 24 hours. It’s a program launched by the El Paso District Attorney. And it’s resulting in stronger criminal cases against offenders and quicker assistance for victims.

Latino USA contributor Monica Ortiz Uribe reports.


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Guatemala: Alma de la Tierra

The lush greenery of Guatemala is ubiquitous, earning the moniker, “Land of Eternal Spring.” To travel the picturesque countryside of Guatemala, one would have little idea that this modest-sized country of 13 million people shouldered such a violent past. The 36-year civil war killed over 200,000 people and ended in a fragile peace in December 1996, putting an end to a series of military dictatorships and returning the country to civilian rule.

For years weak democratic institutions of Guatemala have been tested by crime, corruption, drug trafficking, and social unrest. Many promises made under the 1996 Peace Accords have yet to be fulfilled. And those in power have enjoyed an impunity caused by a weak judicial system.

All this came to a head this month when an otherwise non-descript killing took place on the streets of Guatemala City.

Days after his murder, Guatemalan Attorney Rodrigo Rosenburg could be seen in a video that was slated to be released in case of his demise. The video accuses Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom of ordering his murder.

Claudia Méndez Arriaza

In subsequent days, political rallies have called for Colom’s resignation and investigation; while other marchers, who consider the leftist Colom a champion for the poor, have come out in support of the embattled president.

Claudia Méndez Arriaza is an investigative reporter for El Periódico newspaper in Guatemala.

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Reporter Claudia Méndez Arriaza responded to Maria Hinojosa in Spanish. Listen to their extended conversation without the English voice over.
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But Why?

Prof. Donald Green

Not everyone who feels hate becomes motivated to commit a crime. And not everyone who commits a crime is motivated by hate. Committing a hate crime involves a confluence of issues. Sometimes, hate crimes are motivated by territorial and ethnic disputes, or economic pressures and stereotypical finger-pointing. Professor Donald Green is a Political Scientist from Yale University who has done research into the psychology of hate crimes. His conversation with Maria Hinojosa helps shed some light on this complex and deadly phenomenon.

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