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Congress Condemns Juárez Murders

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In May 2006, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution expressing its sympathy to families of murder victims in Chihuahua State, Mexico, including Ciudad Juárez.

Congress took measures in early May expressing serious concern about recent trends of violence against women in Latin America. The number of women who have been brutally murdered in the region, particularly in Mexico and Guatemala, has risen sharply in recent years. In Ciudad Juárez and Chihuahua, Mexico, over 400 women and girls have been brutally killed since 1993. The response of the Mexican government has been inadequate, allowing crimes to become increasingly common. Meanwhile, in Guatemala over 2,000 women have been murdered in the past six years. Many of the bodies show signs of torture and rape, yet virtually none of the cases have been prosecuted.

U.S. Legislators first approved the Juárez Resolution, a bicameral measure that draws attention to the numerous female victims of violence in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico, and specifically in notorious Ciudad Juárez. Just a week later, 117 representatives in the House signed a letter condemning the rise of violence against women in Guatemala.

The House Concurrent Resolution 90, otherwise known as the Juárez Resolution, passed by unanimous consent. The Senate, led by Senator Bingaman (D-NM), followed suit and passed its version of the same resolution the next evening. The Juárez Resolutions have been the main tool by which the U.S. government has expressed its sympathy to families of murder victims in Chihuahua State, Mexico. They also express concern for the way Mexican authorities have conducted the investigations into these murders, and suggest a number of ways the U.S. government can cooperate with Mexico to put an end to these crimes.

The resolution’s House sponsor, Congresswoman Hilda Solis (D-CA), said, “we are one step closer to bringing justice to the families of Ciudad Juárez. Passage of this important measure signifies strong U.S. congressional support for the families of Juárez and the need to address this tragic human rights situation. Bi-national cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico will help bring an end to the murders of women in Ciudad Juárez and closure to their families.”

Representative Solis was also at the forefront of congressional efforts to condemn violence against women in Guatemala. She joined Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Tom Lantos (D-CA) as co-sponsor of a congressional letter to the State Department calling for U.S. pressure on the Guatemalan government to ensure specific steps to address violence against women in Guatemala. One hundred and seventeen House members signed this letter. Strong constituent action motivated this impressive response from the Congress.

The letter from the House of Representatives drew attention to the reality of the ongoing violence and encouraged the State Department to pressure the Guatemalan government on the issue. It stated that many non-governmental organizations, as well as the United Nations and the Organization of American States (OAS), have noted the “inadequate response from the [Guatemalan] government to the killing of women. There is a disconcerting tendency by local authorities to blame the victims instead of focusing resources on investigating the crimes and prosecuting the assailants. Human rights leaders throughout the world have expressed concerns that the increase in criminality creates a perception that there is a basic lack of safety and accountability in Guatemala.”

The letter encourages the U.S. State Department to take diplomatic measures to address the crisis, including supporting the National Plan for the Prevention and Eradication of Domestic and Interfamilial Violence and providing resources for forensic and criminal investigation.

To read more about the resolution, click here.

Click here to read the Guatemala letter on violence against women.