EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – With candle-lit marches and a bike-a-thon, residents of Juarez, Mexico, marked the second anniversary of women’s activist Isabel Cabanillas’ murder and demanded her killer be brought to justice.
Cabanillas was shot to death on Jan. 18, 2019, while riding her bicycle home after spending time with friends in a Downtown Juarez bar. The artist, single mom and member of a group that seeks to stop the killings of women there was stalked on her way home by the occupant or occupants of a car and shot at twice in front of a government workers’ building where a security camera was offline.
“I will remember my daughter as a happy person who was leaving a happy place when someone said, ‘this is as far as you go,’” said Reyna de la Torre, the activist’s mom. “I will do this (the memorial) year after year as long as God wills.”
More than 500 women have been murdered in Juarez in the past three years, including 172 in 2021. Police said the vast majority of those killings were drug-related, as the drug cartels equally recruit men, women and teenagers to keep their business running. Activists like Cabanillas herself complained that police tend to dismiss homicides as drug-related so as to not investigate them.
The activists also say impunity – the knowledge that odds are slim you will be caught or brought to justice if you commit a crime – is high and contributes to more violence.
De la Torre said she gets occasional briefings from police on her daughter’s murder investigation but they still have no suspects or motives.
“I think violence has increased a lot. Especially against women, with more cruelness than ever,” De la Torre said.
On Sunday, police found the bodies of two women who were mutilated and their body parts scattered along a highway between Juarez and the lower valley farming community of El Porvenir. On Tuesday, police reported finding another two women — one dead, one still breathing — also southeast of Juarez. A total of 10 women have been murdered there so far in January.
In addition to a Monday night candlelight march and a weekend bike-a-thon concluding at the spot she was killed, activists shared numerous social media posts to honor Cabanillas.