Movie in the making
My cousin, who is hoping to be an up-and-coming film director and who I think has the goods, all family loyalty aside, has undertaken an ambitious new project. It's a movie about the nightmare that is part of the fabric of everyday life in the part of the world we grew up in, the El Paso/Juarez area--the serial killer that stalks Juarez and has killed at least 400 women that we know of, and probably twice that. Ryan is calling his movie Muertas. From the website:
Located at an arms length from El Paso, Juarez is a city known for its industrialization, drug trade and brutal crimes. In the last 10 years over 400 women have been murdered in the town of Juarez, Mexico with over 400 others missing. People travel to Juarez from all over Mexico in hopes of a life more promising. Nearly every week, with another woman murdered, we are left with the broken pieces of untold stories, unanswered questions, and apathetic responses.
Ryan's a good director and after a long discussion over coffee with him a month and a half ago, I feel that he's chosen this project for the right reasons and will do a bang-up job of it. He's still raising funds, so if you got extra cash...
The apathy Ryan talks about on his website is a mainstay in the ongoing crisis of the serial killings of Juarez. Not to say that people like it or accept it at all. In fact, I would say it's not apathy that greets the murders so much as helplessness. The accepted story on both sides of the border is that young men from wealthy, powerful families are killing and raping the impoverished factory workers for fun and that police are protecting them. On top of it, the fear of violence is a constant part of life on the border, even for people who have absolutely nothing to do with the drug trade or criminal elements of the area. The randomness of these murders is symbolic of this--the victims are so utterly blameless of anything that it strangles any remaining belief in the people of the area that violence is avoidable as long as you mind your own business.
Death is woven into the fabric of life in the desert in a way that seems alien now that I live away from it. You wander too far away from your home during the wrong time of year and you can die alone of dehydration in the desert. My stepfather was anal about making sure we had at least two gallons of water in the car before we went on a drive anywhere. Once I was two hours late from a hiking trip in the desert, and sure that I had fallen to my death off a cliff, my mother called the police. For those who live day in and day out with the burden of poverty, the nearness of death is even more tangible. People die of disease, starvation, and exposure every damn day. People are killed by drug dealers fighting for territory. Criminals in Juarez take potshots with handguns at border patrol agents, police and fireman all the time. On the other side, border patrol agents have been known to fire for no real reason themselves. The military was called to the border without notice when I was a sophomore in college; they shot a man in the back who was herding sheep because he had a gun. To us, that was a line of bullshit you could smell from a mile; carrying a gun while herding sheep where coyotes and even mountain lions could attack you or your herd at any minute is a necessity.
Ugly, meaningless death is part of life where I grew up and so these murders threaten always to fade into the landscape. It's easy to let one more injustice pass, but this shall not stand. People are standing up for justice for these women murdered for nothing more than trying to scrape by and make a living.