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Embroidery Collective Gives Voice to Mexico’s Victims of Gender-Based Killings

Feminicide in Mexico first caught national and international attention during the killings that occurred during the 1990s in Ciudad Juárez in the state of Chihuahua.

Bordamos Feminicidios uses embroidery to provide a voice to feminicide victims and to change society’s perception of these women as weak. The detailed craft also enables embroiderers to connect with the women and sensitizes them to the violence they suffered.

Mexican law defines feminicide violence as an extreme form of gender-based violence against women. It considers it the product of human rights violations in the private and public spheres and the combination of misogynist conduct and social and state impunity. It could result in homicide or other forms of violent deaths.

While the term “femicide” comes from the female equivalent of homicide, “feminicide” is a wider definition that encompasses the multiple forms of death that could occur, according to a 2012 national study by the Comisión Nacional para Prevenir y Erradicar la Violencia contra las Mujeres, a commission that aims to prevent and eradicate violence against women under the Secretaría de Gobernación, Mexico’s interior ministry.

Between 1985 and 2009, more than 34,000 women were killed because of their gender in Mexico, according to the commission’s study. It notes that feminicides have increased since 2007 because of the social violence that has accompanied the “war” on drug cartels waged by the previous administration of Felipe Calderón, who served as president from 2006 to 2012.

Minerva Valenzuela says she began the embroidery group in November 2012. She drew inspiration from a similar project called Bordamos por la Paz, in which relatives of people who were killed or who disappeared during the Calderón administration met in public places to embroider handkerchiefs with the stories of the casualties of the drug offensive.

Bordamos Feminicidios has embroidered about 350 handkerchiefs so far, says Valenzuela, who has personally stitched seven stories.

“I was totally mutilated and packed in a suitcase,” reads one of the cloths, telling the story of a victim who had been a sex worker.

New apps help women of color close the gap in accessing life-saving cancer information

In 2010, the Health 2.0 Developer Challenge was launched to spur creativity among developers to come up with apps that would solve issues in the healthcare field. One such issue has been the unequal access to healthcare information and treatment between women of color and Anglo women.

Research has shown that Latinas and Black women have overall negative outcomes to diagnosed medical conditions when compared to their white counterparts. The main problem has been, and remains, that women of color tend to see their doctors only after too much time has passed between the time when they first notice symptoms and they make that first appointment.

In many cases, the disease is already so advanced by the time they see their doctors that they have to undergo very aggressive treatment, — sometimes, not surviving what could have been a preventable death.

The folks at the 2.0 Health Developer Challenge realized if there was a way to provide women of color with the medical information they needed and the necessary alerts to make them get up and make that phone call to their doctors before it was too late, it would be a life-saving breakthrough.

The Conveniently ‘Forgotten War’ between Mexico and the United States

We still call it the Mexican-American War. But in Mexico, they still call it “The American Invasion.”

Some of us forget, and some never learned, that up to 165 years ago, most of the western United States belonged to Mexico, and that this territory was won in a war provoked by the United States to satisfy its thirst for territorial expansion.

We forget that for many Latinos in the Southwest, it wasn’t their ancestors who came to the U.S. It was the U.S. that invaded the land of their ancestors.

For those who are unaware of this, making mistakes, and even offensive remarks, can be easy — especially when addressing Latinos who can trace their ancestry further back than Anglo-Saxons in certain parts of the country.

It happened to me as I trekked across Arizona with community activist and Latino history buff Martin DeSoto last summer.

“So you are telling me that your great-great-great-grandparents came from Mexico?” I asked naively.

“Nooo,” DeSoto replied. “When my great-great-great-grandparents lived here, this WAS Mexico!”


  1. I've been very interested in the violent facing predominantly female and/or native women in Cuidad Juarez and some other border towns in Mexico for a few years. I remember a while back reading about Mexico's own trend of "sexified violence" which similar to it's counterparts in countries such as the US and India has a negative effect on women and how they are perceived by men. Actual studies have been conducted to show that some men's brains do in fact react to "sexified" images of women as though those images depict and object rather than a person. Essentially I do believe that neither the US nor Mexican government's care enough to tackle this horror against women in Mexico. Otherwise this war on drugs would not be what it is. Gangs like the Zetta's are trained police and military so really the governments need to be careful who they decide to arm with guns and authoritative power b/c it will more than likely backfire on innocent civilians. (Perhaps they are actually betting on that kind of instability, like in the case of Iraq.)

    1. I was very happy to learn the word "feminicide." I will be paying so much more attention to it.


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