Remains of Juarez women identified, apparently killed long after they were disappeared
by Frontera NorteSur
Posted on July 7, 2009
Years after they were reported missing in Ciudad Juarez, two young women were declared dead. And as is the case with other instances of missing young women, more questions than answers remain on the table.
Ciudad Juarez’s El Diario newspaper reported late last week that the remains of Edith Aranda Longoria were identified earlier this year by the Argentine Anthropological Forensic Team, a group of experts that was brought in by the Mexican government under pressure from relatives of femicide victims and women’s activists to identify unknown murder victims in Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua City. The team has been successful in identifying many female murder victims from both cities.
According to El Diario, Aranda’s remains were discovered in Loma Blanca, a rural town in the Juarez Valley south of the border city, on January 6, 2008.
A 22-year-old teacher and mother of a young child, Aranda went missing on the afternoon of May 3, 2005. El Diario reported that a death certificate listed Aranda as dying in April 2007 of undetermined causes.
If the identification of Aranda is correct, it means that almost two years passed between the time of the teacher’s disappearance and her death.
Aranda’s possible whereabouts during this period of time are not publicly known at the moment. Aranda’s remains were buried in her family’s hometown of Chihuahua City last April, according to El Diario.
In a 2005 interview with Frontera NorteSur, Aranda’s brother, Pedro Aranda, said his sister was last situated seeking employment at a Discorama music store in downtown Ciudad Juarez, a zone where dozens of young women have vanished since the 1990s. Aranda said contradictory reports surrounded the subsequent whereabouts of Edith, and confirmed his sister possessed a US travel visa which he could not locate.
Edith Aranda’s disappearance stoked public anger, leading to a one-day work stoppage by fellow teachers who marched in the streets by the thousands.
Both the place where Aranda’s reported remains were discovered and the timing of the recovery could be of some importance. A haunt of drug traffickers and immigrant smugglers, the Juarez Valley has served as the dumping ground for other femicide victims. Celebrated as Three Kings Day, January 6 fell in a month last year when a bloody war between rival drug cartels erupted in Ciudad Juarez.
In a second victim identification accomplished by means of DNA testing, authorities established that the body of a murdered young woman who was set on fire and discovered in an arroyo on March 21, 1999, belonged to 17-year-old Rosario Palacios Moran.
The teenager was earlier reported missing on December 7, 1998, or more than three months before she was killed. Delivered to her family, Palacio’s remains were finally buried in her native state of Guerrero late last month.
According to a report from Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission(CNDH), Palacios was headed to a shopping center at approximately 4 pm on December 7 when she vanished. In its report, the CNDH concluded that Chihuahua state law enforcement officials violated Palacio’s human rights by not adequately investigating her disappearance.
The Palacios murder was one of several slayings attributed to a group of bus drivers known as “Los Choferes” by the Chihuahua state attorney general’s office (PGJE) and Suly Ponce, the controversial former special prosecutor for women’s homicides.
Attempts by El Diario reporters to get comment on the Aranda and Palacios cases from the current special prosecutor for women’s homicides, Flor Munguia, were unsuccessful as of last weekend.
Vladimir Tuexi, spokesman for the Ciudad Juarez office of the PGJE, said the identifications of Aranda and Palacios were not made public in order to protect “the investigations.” Curiously, in Palacio’s case, investigations were supposedly concluded more than ten years ago.
Family members of another Ciudad Juarez femicide victim, Sagrario Gonzalez, were very critical of the PGJE’s withholding of important news on the fates of missing young women whose disappearances moved many in the Paso del Norte borderlands and across the globe.
“(Authorities) try to hide the truth,” charged Guillermina Gonzalez, older sister of Sagrario Gonzalez. “There is no transparency in the investigations, and it has always been this way….they want to make believe that everything is under their control when in reality it is the opposite.”
-- El Diario de Juarez, July 3 and 4, 2009. Articles by Gabriela Minjares and Luz del Carmen Sosa.
Frontera NorteSur (FNS): on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news Center for Latin American and Border Studies New Mexico State University Las Cruces, New Mexico
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