JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) – Women’s rights and LGBT activists took to the streets of Juarez on Thursday, demanding answers in the murder and dismemberment of a lesbian couple last Sunday.
Chihuahua state police investigators say Nohemi Medina, 28, and Tania Julissa Martinez, also 28, were killed violently, their bodies dismembered, the parts placed in plastic bags and scattered along the Juarez-Povernir Highway.
Activists said Medina and Martinez married last year and were raising Medina’s three children. Initial news reports from Juarez said the women were from El Paso, but state police officials on Thursday told Border Report that Medina was originally from Juarez and Martinez from El Sauzal, Chihuahua, a community along the highway where the body parts were found.
“The authorities are blind towards what is happening. In addition to the widespread violence from drug trafficking, there’s also violence against LGBT people for being LGBT,” said Miguel Angel Jacome, who participated in Thursday’s protest in front of the state police building in Juarez and in the march that followed.
Demonstrators held signs saying, “Sorry for the inconvenience, but we’re being killed” and “I don’t want to feel brave going out, I want to feel safe.” Participants also carried rainbow flags and a large purple banner with black letters stating “We want to be alive, free and without fear.”
More than 500 women have been murdered in Juarez in the past three years, including 172 last year. Mexican police said most of those homicides were drug-related.
“There’s obviously a situation of hate towards women and that is something that for all the women here in Juarez worries us,” said Eliana Treviño, a women’s rights advocate and a participant in Thursday’s march.
Chihuahua Attorney General Roberto Fierro said the couple’s killing was not a hate crime.
“In this case, the lines of investigation are linked to the economic activity that both victims were engaged in, and the persons with which they interacted in that environment,” the AG’s Office said in a statement to Border Report.
This is not the first time criminals leave body parts along the Juarez-Porvenir and other roads in an area known as the Juarez Valley, across the border from Socorro, Fabens, Tornillo and Fort Hancock, Texas. Mexican authorities in the past have attributed the dismemberment to drug cartels trying to intimidate rivals.
Fierro vowed his office would conduct an objective investigation. “Justice applies equally to all, and we have made much progress in this investigation. We’re following various leads, but a hate crime this is not,” he said in the statement.
Still, the activists say too many women are being killed in Juarez during sex assaults and as the result of domestic violence.
“So far this year, one woman has been murdered here every 45 hours,” said Maritza, a spokeswoman for the groups that organized Thursday’s march. “We demand an end to the violence and that authorities make good on their duty to guarantee the safety of all citizens, men and women, (gay) or straight.”