to media reports, the number of women who have been murdered this
year in Guatemala is already 39, several of them showing signs of
having been raped and executed with the so-called "grace shot" in
the head. A notation published on October 14 in Siglo Veintiuno
points out that "in these cases, the National Civilian Police connects
the crimes to personal vendettas" and adds that, since eight women
have been found murdered in an area of Zone 4 in Mixco (a suburb
of Guatemala's capital city), "the authorities have begun to suspect
that there is a serial killer operating around that sector."
The years pass and nothing
changes. I'm not talking only about men's violence, which so cruelly
keeps affecting women and goes on uncontrolled because women's claims
and demands fall on the deaf ears of the authorities and those of
common mortals. I'm talking about the lie they still try so hard
to make us swallow: that the infamous "grace shot" and many other
fatalities in which women are the victims might be evidence of "crimes
of passion", of "personal vendettas."
the authorities actually believe there's a serial killer out there,
they're wrong in their speculation about his motives to kill. A
"personal vendetta" would point to a previous relationship between
the victim and her killer. But a serial killer does not usually
maintain a personal relationship with his victims; rather, he selects
them carefully based on certain characteristics. One of these factors
is not that the victim is known to him, even less so that a relationship
existed between them. This official speculation only lays the ground
for the authorities to later claim that it was a "crime of passion"
and thus minimize its importance and discard the case.
About victim number 39,
whose body is believed to have been dumped around the Villa Canales
cemetery between 10 and 15 days previously, the article indicates
that "some neighbors of this area stated that, approximately 15
days ago, some screams were heard at this place coming from an automobile,
but nobody dared investigate what it was all about."
If anybody still has
any doubts about the ineffectiveness of the justice system, the
paragraph above is a good example of it. It's true: very few people
are now willing to personally go out there and find out what's going
on, but the fact that nobody would even run to find a phone to call
the police after hearing a woman (or any other person) screaming
is a good sign of the distrust this institution inspires.
the case of the most recent victim (number 40), Nora Lily Castillo
Orellana, who was threatened, pursued and then murdered on Friday,
October 13 by two allegedly paid killers, it has been said that
the Public Ministry is investigating why this businesswoman did
not denounce the persecution she was being subjected to. Another
example of the wrong starting point by the authorities. Once a crime
has been committed, ¿just how important is it, really, to establish
the reason why the victim did not go to the police in the first
Ciudad Juárez, in the
Mexican Chihuahua state, has been the setting of a series of murders
in which women were the victims. These killings began to be registered
in 1993. In September 1999, the count was 193 and some 25 more women
have been murdered this year. Right from the beginning, the authorities
(men with very obvious mysogynist attitudes) attributed these killings
to the victims' conduct, speculating about their decency - an official
attitude which has only served to stall the investigations. Oh,
well, it's just women. All of them poor women. All of them somebody
else's daughter, sister, wife, girlfriend, mother... If they had
been THEIR women, the story would be different.
same is now happening in Guatemala. The authorities follow the wrong
leads and forget that a murder is a murder and, as such, the perpetrators
must be found and brought before justice. And in these cases, the
fundamental must be remembered: that this is a systematic elimination
of women. With tacit consent from the State and from those who think
of themselves as "good," who wouldn't kill a fly, but who will not
break this abetting silence which perpetuates violence against women.
The original Spanish
version of this article was published on October 21, 2000 in Diario
Siglo Veintiuno (Guatemala) under the title "¿Un
asesino en serie?", and may be viewed.