Saturday, March 3, 2018

Sinaloa: Where Narco Culture and Feminicides Go Hand in Hand

Translated by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from: Proceso

Special Report Feb 2, 2018
Extra Material from El Debate

If Sinaloa is the most violent state for women, as official figures affirm, it is because in this region of the country the culture of drug trafficking exploits them and treats them as objects; also because in other entities there is resistance to activate gender alerts and to investigate these murders as femicides, states the legal representative of the Colectivo Mujeres Activas Sinaloenses, María Teresa Guerra Ochoa. 

Here the murders have to do more with a matter of jealousy on the part of couples or ex-partners that are linked to organized crime, ignorance of the authorities and impunity are aggravating the problem, she warns.

Mexico City - On the morning of July 1, 2013, at the intersection of Doctor Mora and Sinaloa avenues, in the residential subdivision Las Quintas, Culiacán, a young woman identified as Karla was shot to death on board a luxurious truck, license plate VMX-3850. The victim was intercepted by the occupants of a white jeep. The assailants spoke briefly with her before shooting her abruptly with 9mm and .38 pistols. The attack was at close range  and the attackers managed to escape.

What was apparently an isolated case was the beginning of a series of armed attacks against women.

Unlike other states in the country, 70% of the femicides committed in Sinaloa during 2017 were carried out with firearms, mostly firearms for the exclusive use of the Armed Forces, because in most cases the aggressors were their partners or ex-partners with links to organized crime.

In this scenario of violence is also the Sinaloa narcoculture, in which the role of women as a sexual object is more marked and in which the man is the one who customarily pays for expensive plastic surgeries. These men often like to show them off with the same pride they exhibit a Goat Horn, ie AK47 , the 38 Super or the square 9mm caliber that are often used to kill them.

Everything starts from small. The dream of many young Sinaloan girls is to turn 15 years old so that their parents give them money for their first cosmetic surgery: breast enlargement, buttocks or full lips. Her aspiration is to get a narco boyfriend to pay for her luxuries. A Quincienera, Sinaloan style.

On January 25 of this year, the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System (SESNSP), a decentralized body of the Ministry of the Interior (Segob), was in charge for the first time of creating a registry on feminicide and placed Sinaloa as the federal entity with the highest number of cases, with 84 of the 696 reported murders that the authorities reported in 2017.

In an interview with Proceso, the legal representative of the Colectivo de Mujeres Activas Sinaloenses, María Teresa Guerra Ochoa, who promotes the request for the activation of the Gender Violence Alert against Women, rejects that Sinaloa is the state with the most homicides of this type. 

Based on the SESNSP's own figures, it states that in the State of Mexico, Guerrero and Chihuahua, 301, 219 and 212 malicious murders of women were registered, respectively.

"It struck us that Sinaloa is in first place in this type of homicide. However, it must be said that it is because the 84 murder cases registered in 2017 were labeled  feminicide, contrary to what happens in other states, where they prefer to avoid the issue. In the State of Mexico, only 61 folders were opened, while in Guerrero, 13, and in Chihuahua, 12. 

Sinaloa would not be on the list if we just talk about murders and they were not labeled feminicides, " Guerra Ochoa explains.

According to the United Nations (UN), it is determined that a case is feminicide when there are traces of sexual violence, the body is exposed and the executor is quite often the partner or ex-partner, among other characteristics.

After the publication of the official figures on femicide, the members of the group, in addition to stating their disagreement that Sinaloa appears as the most violent state in the matter, called on  the women's organizations that operate in the rest of the country to summon their local governments to really classify  cases as feminicide;  some cases  are not being handled that way.

The UN recommends that all murders of women in the beginning should be treated as femicides, so that this probable cause is discarded only if the investigations so indicate and  Segob agreed that this should be done in the whole of the country. However, some state governments are not complying; such is the cases in the States of Mexico, Guerrero and Chihuahua.

- Why has the State of Sinaloa begun to keep separate classification of Feminicide?

"Partly because of our solicitation to activate the Gender Alert System. Although that was a triumph, it has not given good results, you could say that in 2017 compared to 2016 the number of assassinations of women has risen. Also we can mention that there have been worse years; between 2010 and 2011,  for example, we had around 220 cases.

For us, who have followed the issue, Sinaloa historically suffers from a high incidence of violence against women. When we requested the Gender Alert we documented that from the administration of the then governor Jesus Aguilar Padilla (2004-2010) to the government of Mario López Valdez (2010-2016) the number of murdered persons increased 33%.

"We also believe that violence against women in the home increased 70%; these are extreme cases in which they were pointed at and threatened with death, " she says.

María Teresa Guerra also considers that some segments of society are responsible for promoting some resistance to dealing with femicides, because she assures that there are people who ask the question "why make the call of that alarm" or they question the insistence of putting the issue of aggression against women on the table, when statistically speaking there are more homicides of men.

"That's true, in Sinaloa men are the ones who most lose their lives in a violent way, but the circumstances are different. Most of the murdered women in the state, and I think in the country, has to do with relationships. It is a matter of control, jealousy and sexual abuse, " she explains.

"They are like things"

The legal representative of Mujeres Activas Sinaloenses considers that in her state the phenomenon of  cartel activity aggravates the situation and many men fall by the "Adjusting of Accounts". 

"We have talked about the damage that is caused to a family when organized crime has to do with a relationship, when the man in the relationship is the one that ends the life of the woman. The impact is much stronger. That particularity, sometimes, is not understood by governments and is not understood by society either.

"The governor accepted the warning, the Gender Alert System , ie,  but does not understand it, does not push it, does not give it due importance. The same thing that happens in Sinaloa happens in the rest of the country. The Ministry of the Interior during this sexennium, apparently, gave the green light to the gender alert, but there is more simulation than attention, " laments the activist.

- How does organized crime affect  relationships ?

In the case of Sinaloa, there is a social violence that will have repercussions in more gender violence.
If, historically, women are taken and seen as an object by an organized crime man, empowered in the economic and armament sense, he exercises that control with greater force.

We see it a lot in women who sometimes interact with us, approach us and want to denounce them. The woman becomes almost like an animal. I see many crimes that are committed, that apparently are not qualified as feminicides, but they really are, because they are women to whom the man gave money, he paid for a surgery for them, hence he transformed them. Therefore, she is one more object of his property in his mind", explains Maria Teresa Guerra.

In the interview, she mentions cases of some men who were in prison for drug trafficking and that when they get their freedom, the first thing they do is murder their partners because they went out with others. "They take charge of everything they gave the woman. That is why the woman ends up being a prisoner to that power. 

"Now, that there is more organized crime there are more arms.  If we look at the statistics, in Sinaloa there are more women executed by firearms than in other states, where they are killed often by suffocation. Here it is usually with a firearm, because people are much more armed than in other places. "

For Teresa Guerra Ochoa, the authorities must address this aspect, because, depending on how organized crime expands, this type of violence is being socialized, the aggressiveness in the country has become naturalized.

She says," the novel "Sin Tetas" is no paradise, it is about Colombians narcos and  it is a reflection of the Sinaloans;  many women often modify their bodies to the likes of their man. "

"With  knowledge I can tell you that there is not a place more similar to Colombia than Sinaloa.
And everything you say about Colombia  you will see here. The way girls who turn 15 are thinking about whether they are going to get  themselves a breast or buttocks operation.

"The number of women operated on in Culiacán is impressive. It looks like a sex market. Girls who live in a precarious condition or in rural areas see that an operation is their ladder  to greater luxuries and having a boyfriend who belongs, is related to, or has money from organized crime. It's part of the narco-culture, " regrets Guerra.

"You find the drug dealer you need"

A video entitled: "How to make yourself up and dress like a Sinaloan", is a make-up tutorial from  Culiacán, Sinaloa "; it was uploaded to the YouTube digital platform on January 31, 2016.  Now, it  has been seen over 1, 200,000 times; in it a woman gives recommendations on how to look "beautiful" without spending so much.

At minute 03:53, the young woman says: "For the lips, you must  wear a very strong  red or pink color because you already know that right now that is in fashion, long-lasting lipsticks are very expensive and truthfully, it is not enough.  You see it now with "El Chapo", because all the narcos are in hiding along with their friends; and their friends just are not coming out of hiding right now, you don't know if they will risk sending  a gift for you to keep buying ....... But hey, we we have to keep on surviving and we have to see ourselves as beautiful because sooner or later  someone will appear to us ".

At minute 06:59 of the video she  continues: "If you were not born with a lot of chichi, as is usual with Sinaloans , ie with little buttocks but with big breasts (chichi) or are born without either, you are screwed. I hope that you have done the surgeries, that you have put on the chichis; otherwise, you will have to fake it. The more you wear, the better. The truth is that there is a lot of surgery done in Culiacán. If you have not been able to do lipo, because you have not found the man of your dreams who can pay for it, do not worry: there is store in Obregón that carries Colombian girdles, buy yourself one.

"Many Sinaloans are frowned upon and therefore, if you have not been operated on , then there is no solution, the only thing ... the girdle with stockings padded with sponges that bring out the false buttocks. 

"Yes, you know that we in Sinaloa like brand bags, Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors. Do not worry if you can not buy a real one, since the man of your dreams is on the way. One day they will find you and you will have all the bags in the world. Maybe you cannot boast about them because they'll be up there in the Sierra de Durango, locked up ... "

At minute 11:24, the "tutorial" adds: "Before leaving your house cross yourself  and do not forget to always bring your Jesus Malverde," she says as she pulls out a small stamp that was stored between  her breasts. You have to ask him, Jesus Malverde, to please get everything right and find the drug dealer you need and then you have your future assured for life, you do not have to work, you do not have to finish school. "

On September 9, 2017, local media reported the killing of a woman in Sinaloa, executed by gunfire. The newspaper El Debate announced that the victim had just put on her makeup. 

On January 20, 2018 another girl was killed by a man who entered his house and emptied his gun into her face.

And how many countless other women that will not even make the Gender Alert System, let alone an investigation opened or next years statistics sheet ?

Note: Beautiful Guadalupe, the murdered activist from Cheran's assassin was arrested recently in Tijuana, BC. He was her "boyfriend". A boyfriend with whom she had an argument, thus he strangled her and left her dead on the side of a rural road while her family and friends searched for her because she never came home late. Borderland Beat