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Read more about Juarez, Mexico and see photos from a Toriphile who has been there

Updated Wed, Aug 06, 2003 - 4:23am ET

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As you know, Tori has a song named Juarez on her 1999 To Venus And Back album. The city of Juarez, Mexico has seen the murders of many women over the years. The Dent was sent some really powerful photos taken in Juarez, Mexico by Toriphile Rachel, who travels there every summer to work in those very neighborhoods that the women are abducted from. She has also written some information about Juarez and the photos. It is all really powerful and interesting, and I urge you to take a look.

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Click any of the photos below to see them larger.

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Rachel writes:

Juarez, Mexico sits across the Rio Grande river from El Paso, Texas. The two cities combined make up one of the most populated border regions in the world. When you cross the border you know just from looking around that you're not in America anymore. Suddenly the streets are dirty and vendors are selling everything from blow-up Hulks to cigarettes, cactus fruit and blankets. There are also people on most corners near the border dressed in traditional clothing begging for money.

People come to Juarez from all over Mexico in search of work. Throughout Mexico there is a myth that persists saying that you can get rich there. They say that the maquilladoras that have sprung up all over the area have countless jobs and all of them pay well. Entire families put all the money they can into moving to Juarez in the hope of a better life for their family. However, when they arrive, they find the truth. Housing is scarce and people find themselves in colonias on the outskirts of town. These are unencorporated areas that often lack running water and basic sanitation. Most are built on unsanitized landfills. If you turn as much as one block off any major street, you'll find neighborhoods that are so sad you want to cry just driving through them.

Many can't find work and those that do often work long hours for little pay in the numerous maquilladoras. Of these workers, a surprisingly large number of them are women. These women have to wake up very early in the morning and walk long distances through tough neighborhoods just to get to the bus stop that then takes them to the factory. Often times these are the women that are abducted and murdered, later turning up in the desert outside surrounding Juarez. Almost all of the at least 300 women that have been killed in the past few years have been young, attractive and very poor. The murders are all similar which suggests they've almost all been committed by the same killer (s). Sadly, most have gone unsolved. Of the ones that are "solved," often the supposed killers show signs of torture at the trial, most likely recieved while they were confessing.

Even with these horrible conditions, the people and children of Juarez are amazing. Many have so very little in the way of material possessions that they hold on to their family and their faith to bring happiness. The children are very aware of the world that they live in but can still find joy in the fact that they have a family that loves them and that they had a meal today.

Photo Details

(Upper left photo) These are some of the kids that I met while I was there. Considering the conditions they live in, they're incredibly healthy.

(Upper right photo) Picture shows (at a distance) some really sad-looking houses. This is close to the first picture.

(Lower left photo) Shows clouds moving over the mountains to the west of juarez. The west side houses most of the colonias (which is basically a slum). These colonias are the areas of town with no running water, little plumbing, some electricity but not much. In this particular neighborhood, no one has work. The parents and children here can go for 3-4 days without a single meal.

(Lower right photo) This photo shows a house made of cardboard packing supplies. This type of house is not terribly common in the colonias but is still more widespread than one would like.

These are just a few of the (too many) that I took. Basically what you find in these people is an incredible happiness. They live in squalid conditions but know that what's important is their family and friends. You never find children ashamed to admit they're with their mom and you also never find anyone being mean to a sibling. These kids will cry if separated from a sibling. however, there is a dark cloud of sorts over this city. I am not a perfect- figure girl but I still get whistled at and cat-called when walking down the street in jeans. The culture for males has advanced to the more sexual-pop culture crap that's going on in America while the girls are still the little mariposas (little butterflies) that they traditionally have to be. They allow the guys to run over them and just take it because that's their culture. In my opinion, that's the beginning of the problem.

Juarez is my favorite Tori song simply because I understand fully what she is trying to convey and it is something that I have had to work against. When she came to Austin for her tour for SLGs, she played juarez and I cried so hard.

Posted by: Mikewhy

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