Key Case: Marisela Escobedo, Mexico
In December 2010, Marisela Escobedo was holding a peace vigil in Chihuahua City’s main square when she was approached by a group of masked men. As she attempted to flee across the street to the safety of the Governor’s Palace, she was shot and killed – the entire incident caught on a security camera.
It was a tragic ending to Marisela’s two-year battle to find justice for her murdered daughter.
Teenage Rubi Frayre disappeared from Ciudad Juarez in August 2008. Her former boyfriend, Sergio Barraza, was considered the main suspect but local authorities were slow to investigate. Marisela launched her own investigation, gathering material evidence. During her search, Sergio finally confessed to his crime, leading Marisela and the authorities to Rubi’s body, where all that remained were charred pieces of bone.
Despite asking for forgiveness in the oral trial that took place, Sergio Barraza was acquitted due to a lack of evidence and released by the judges. He is now the prime suspect in Marisela’s death.
The events have rocked Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua where femicide is at an all time high. Marisela had staged vocal, nonviolent protests, even marching naked – wrapped only in a banner of her daughter’s photograph – to call attention and demand action for her daughter.
Launching an appeal to the acquittal, Marisela poured her resources and time to bring Sergio to justice, as she dealt with threats against her life from his family. Her protests led to the creation of an inquiry into the handling of Rubi’s case to identify procedural errors and to define what action could be taken so such mistakes would be avoided in the future. However, a change in government paralyzed the inquiry and progress in other cases dealing with the disappearances of the women of Ciudad Juarez – forcing Marisela to take action and hold a multiday vigil on the new Governor’s doorstep where her life came to an end.
Soon after Marisela’s death, the judges who had acquitted Sergio Barazza and released him into the public were suspended and an investigation was launched into why the state security officials who had been assigned to protect Marisela after continued threats failed.
Marisela and Rubi’s murders remain unsolved.
“Fury in Mexico as brave activist mother who lost her daughter in drugs war is gunner down while demanding justice,” Daily Mail, 18 December 2010.
“Mother shot dead at anti-crime vigil in Chihuahua,” LA Times, 18 December 2010.
“The Murdered Women of Juarez,” AWID, 23 January 2012.