Murder of Activist Isabel Cabanillas Was the Last Straw and Triggered Protests Throughout Mexico

mexican feminist activist Isabel Cabanillas BELatina

“Your struggle goes on, Isabel,” has been the cry that has traveled to every corner of Mexico City, after the young activist and plastic artist Isabel Cabanillas was murdered in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, in mid-January.

Feminist groups demonstrated in front of Casa Chihuahua’s facilities in Mexico City to protest the lack of clear information in the case that resulted in the death of the 26-year-old.

According to national media reports, Cabanillas was found dead between Inocente Ochoa and Francisco I. Madero streets, and the Chihuahua state prosecutor’s office determined that the cause of death was “a bullet from a firearm in the skull.”

Beside her lay her well-known bicycle, and the many questions as to why one of the largest epidemics in Latin America persists.

Cabanillas added to the terrifying statistics of violence in Mexico, now considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world, with an average of four homicides per day.

A visual artist and activist, Cabanillas was known in Ciudad Juárez for the intersection of her work with identity, gender, and social struggle.

Her death triggered a wave of protests that concatenate the widespread feeling in the feminist community in Latin America.

“Our struggle is for you, sister, for you and for the thousands that this feminicidal system murders daily,” says the Facebook profile of Hijas de su Maquilera Madre, one of the collectives to which Cabanillas belonged and which demonstrated after the young woman’s death.

The collective added that “from January 2018 to November 2019, 45 femicides were recorded throughout Chihuahua,” according to El Ciudadano.

“Isabel’s murder occurs in one of the most dangerous cities for a woman and an activist,” the group added.

“What is happening in Ciudad Juárez hurts us a lot, the war hurts us. Armando Cabada has tried to erase the femicides that are occurring, we denounce him as an accomplice,” said others about the actions of the Juárez mayor, as reported by Animal Politico.

Between marches, shouts, and artistic interventions, dozens of women shouted to the government: “You are the murderers, in the war against drugs it is women who die. This is not an isolated incident; the femicides are crimes of the state. We demand justice.”

For its part, the National Commission for the Prevention and Eradication of Violence against Women (Conavim), in a statement, demanded “the state government in Chihuahua and the municipal government of Ciudad Juárez increase all necessary measures to guarantee the safety and protection of women’s lives.”

According to Feminist.org, Mexico seems to be experiencing a second spike in gender violence, after the Central American country “gained international attention as death tolls of working Factory women, labeled ‘maquiladoras’ reached all time highs” during the 1990s.

“Despite this attention the femicide carried on and Ciudad Juarez ended 2019 with a death toll of nearly 1,500 killings,” the platform explained. “Most of these attacks on women never get solved and their deaths are viewed as just mere numbers. With an average of four deaths per day, the slaying of women is seen as the daily norm.”