Book Review – Daughters of Juarez (Las Hijas de Juarez) by Teresa Rodriguez, Diana Montané and Lisa Pulitzer; Atria, Simon & Schuster 2008.

Posted on February 13, 2010. Filed under: Books, Human Rights | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Daughters of Juarez (Las Hijas de Juarez)
Teresa Rodriguez, Diana Montané and Lisa Pulitzer;
Atria, Simon & Schuster 2008.
ISBN10: 0743292030; ISBN13: 9780743292030

Daughters of Juarez by Teresa Rodriguez, Diana Montané and Lisa Pulitzer

Daughters of Juarez by Teresa Rodriguez, Diana Montané and Lisa Pulitzer

For over a decade Juárez, Mexico, a city adjacent to the Rio Grande El Paso, Texas continues to be the focal point for a sickening criminal offensive  towards the female population. Comprising of abductions, sexual assault, mutilation, mass murder, the majority of barbarous acts possess the same patterns or elements i.e.  females, youthful, slender, and victims of low socio-economic backgorunds – giving weight to one particular presumption: the fact that the murders are not haphazard or one-offs but by clearly by design. It is truly femicide on a mass scale.

Regardless of the countless police and military busts and raids throughout the previous decade or so, the homicides persist in occurrence and frequency and the perpetrators are increasinly becoming more daring, getting rid of corpses within the limits of the actual city as an alternative to hiding them outside in the desert (which was how and where the first bodies were initially found). There seems to be a sinister air of a probable expanding and generally mind boggling accord and possible co-operation in a dodgy atmosphere of hushing up and suspect intransigence by Mexican officials.

Picture of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico

Picture of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico

‘Daughters of Juarez’ is undoubtedly a good solid engaging read for it is an authentic account of this mass femicide. Rodriguez makes a difference to many of the people impacted and  indeed damaged by these atrocities by bringing the terrible incidents to light for all of us to see.

Despite the good this particular account may do,  the book ‘Daughters of Juarez’ is nevertheless afflicted with a shortfall in design. Rodriguez jumps between dates, men and women and happenings so often that it becomes very difficult to stay easily on track. She often endulges in going too far with what should be more simple explanations . The storytelling as good as it is in some parts seems like a waste at other times – I feel there could have been more time spent on humanizing many of the victims by telling part of their story. Perhaps Rodriguez could enlighten us on further background  in a follow up book.  Some citations should have also been utilized by the author  to assist the reader make headway of the depth of analysis and background investigatory work  that must have been devoted to this book. So much unnecessary material could have been left out and replaced with substance of a more poignant nature.

Many readers will most likely be terrified by the depth of violence that the hundreds of victims were subjected to. But let us not forget the suffering experienced in so many ways by their families that is equally  incomprehensibly terrifying. No matter how iron cast you think your stomach may be the story will shock you!

The account is riveting and should be required reading, however the drawn out  composition of thoughts and the explanation involving exactly what the family members endured as well as the over dramatized retelling of the specific events seems to block the natural flow – a flow that ordinarily would encourage you not to put such a book down.

Furthermore, a more concise assessment on the specifics as well as extra cultural evaluation is likely to have assisted one to gain a clearer picture more readily (eg.  the ongoing drug wars, the prevailing gang mentaliy, the  sex discrimination deeply seeded in Mexican way of life, the ubiquitous corruption in border towns.) Did they contribute in anyway to the mass and serial murders of the women of Juarez? Readers I am sure would like to know.

Such a kind of book as ‘Daughters of Juarez’ also casts light on the ironic fact that intelligent U.S citizens, many whom are uninformed, are consuming not just products and goods from exploited workers in Mexican sweatshops south of their border, but also consuming many of those goods stained with the blood of victims of mass femicide and the victims families tears. The facts remain – women continue to be second rate citizens in Mexico to this day, while only a stones throw away, across the border, life goes on as per usual in the US with taken for granted freedoms, justice and equality.  It is an unfortunate fact that the United States indirectly supports the ongoing repression because of their unquentionable thirst for consumerism.

Ciudad Juarez Crosses

Ciudad Juarez Crosses

Look over ‘Daughters of Juarez’ and then consider embarking on a getaway to Mexico. You will think about your lovely trip a whole lot more differently – guaranteed!

Even now, you can find little published regarding the issues raised in ‘Daughters of Juarez’. Perhaps if such a nightmarish situation occurred just north of the border, in El Paso, USA or within virtually any other developed or modern city anywhere else on the planet, we would certainly see it making headlines and causing mass public outcry. This is why this book is so very crucial. It brings the horrific events to the world’s attention.

But we must re-iterate despite the importance of the work bringing this topic to the world, the authors have done a diservice to the cause by their excessive dramatizing which can seem increasingly overdone and often contrived as one progresses through the book.

We do recommend reading the book and probably purchasing it. Support your local library and ask them to get it in for you if they do not aleady have it on their shelves. Regardless of some of its minor flaws, Daughters of Juarez is engaging and still worth a read.

The Human Rights Book Review

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