Monday, August 10, 2009

Mexico: Girls Missing in Ciudad Juarez

Posters seeking information on missing persons hang on a pedestrian bridge in Juarez. The disappearances, which include two promising university students and girls as young as 13, have stirred dark memories of the killings of hundreds of women that made Ciudad Juarez infamous a decade ago.

CIUDAD JUAREZ, MEXICO - The streets of Juarez are swallowing the young and pretty.

Monica Alanis, an 18-year-old college freshman, never came home from her exams. That was more than four months ago.

Across town, 17-year-old Brenda Ponce didn't return from a job-hunting trip downtown. That was a year ago.

Hilda Rivas, 16, was also last spotted downtown. That was 17 months ago.

Two dozen teenage girls and young women have gone missing in this violent border city in the last year and half, stirring dark memories of the killings of hundreds of women that made Ciudad Juarez infamous a decade ago.

The disappearances, which include two university students and girls as young as 13, have some crime-novel touches: mysterious dropped calls, messages left by third parties and unsubstantiated reports of the women being kept at a house.

There is no clear evidence of wrongdoing or links among the cases, which have been overshadowed by a vicious drug war that has killed more than 2,500 people in Juarez since the beginning of 2008. But relatives of the young women say it is highly unlikely that they would have left on their own.

Monica Alanis' parents say she was seldom late returning from the campus. That day in March, Olga Esparza says she called her daughter to find out why she was three hours late. Monica reassured her: "I'll be home later."

Desperate family members have hung missing-person banners and taped fliers to telephone poles all over the city in hope of getting leads on the whereabouts of loved ones. They've checked hospitals and combed dusty canyons in the impoverished fringes of the city. They've badgered state investigators, but complain that authorities have no solid leads to explain why so many young women would drop from view at once.

"There is no theory. There is no hypothesis," said Ricardo Alanis, Monica's father, his voice thin with pain. "They don't have anything concrete after four months."

The vacuum has prompted parents to envision their own disturbing story lines. Several say they believe their daughters have been seized and forced into prostitution, perhaps in the United States, by the same criminal bands that have turned this border city into the bloodiest front in the drug war...


1 comment:

  1. we hope that this is not the fate of Alejandra Salcido, she disappeared 9/10/09, eary consequences!

    please look at for more info