Elevate Difference

Making a Killing: Femicide, Free Trade, and La Frontera

Making a Killing is a collection of essays exploring the history and social/political/economic context of the murders of women in Juarez, Mexico from 1993 to the present day. Essays analyze the economic context of free trade that has contributed to a culture that devalues women workers and sees female bodies as expendable in the making of cheap products for American women. Essays examine activists’ and artists’ efforts to gain attention for the plight of women in Juarez, analyze the culture of law enforcement in Juarez, and vividly portray the efforts of mothers and relatives to get justice for their missing and murdered daughters.

Though the essays collected here are primarily academic, they are easy to read and will be of interest to the general public, not just other academics. The collection provides a thorough history and a complete picture of the efforts to stop the violence against women in Juarez throughout the last two decades. Though the subject is difficult, I enjoyed the book a lot.

I lived in El Paso, Texas for fifteen of the last twenty years; the stories of Mexican women being raped, murdered, and dumped in the desert on the outskirts of Juarez, Mexico filtered into my consciousness early. But so did the stories of narco-murders. In the last three years, the world has lost its preoccupation with the murder of women in Juarez and turned its attention instead to the mayhem and murders of over 25,000 Mexican citizens in the drug cartel wars ripping the nation apart. Juarez is the city most affected by these murders (3,000 in 2010 alone).

If I have one criticism of Making a Killing, it is that it pays little attention to the general culture of killing in Juarez. The murders of women didn’t begin in 1993—nor have they stopped. And the narco-murders didn’t begin in 2007—and who knows when they will end? Because the editors focus on femicide, only one essay suggests that the femicides overlap or are inextricably intertwined with the narco-murders. The culture of violence in Juarez envelops the femicides—but exceeds them as well. If we fail to explore and analyze this truth, then the murders of women by individual men and groups of men will be forgotten as we increasingly pay attention to the drug cartel war instead.

Written by: Jessica Powers, January 15th 2011