Mexico: Susana Chávez Castillo – a tribute


Prominent poet and women’s rights advocate Susana Chávez Castillo was found murdered in the border town of Ciudad Juárez on 6 January 2011. She had been strangled and had had one of her hands cut off; her body was only identified five days later. Chávez had been highly vocal in calling for justice for the hundreds of women killed in the Juárez area since the early 1990s, both as an activist and through her writings; she took part in numerous poetry readings which she dedicated to the murdered women.

Sangre Nuestra – by Susana Chávez Castillo
Our Blood (translation)
Blood of my own,
blood of sunrise,
blood of a broken moon,
blood of silence,
of dead rock,
of a woman in bed
jumping into nothingness,
Open to the madness.
Blood clear and definite,
fertile seed,
Blood the unbelievable journey,
Blood as its own liberation,
Blood, river of my songs,
Sea of my abyss.
Blood, painful moment of my birth,
Nourished by my last appearance.


Throughout the course of their investigation, the authorities denied that the murder of Chávez was related in any way to her activism and poetry, or to organised crime, despite the recent murder and harassment of numerous other local rights defenders. The Chihuahua state attorney general’s office alleged that she was killed by three teenage boys she had met while out drinking and, on 3 April 2013, a court in Ciudad Juárez sentenced three juveniles to 15 years in prison for her murder. According to reports, one of her alleged killers was released on 22 July 2013 after a court found that there was insufficient evidence to support the claim that he was directly involved in the murder.

Despite a conviction for Chávez’ killing, in the vast majority of murders of writers and journalists, impunity reigns. Mexico remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world in which to exercise one’s right to freedom of expression. At least 67 print and internet journalists, bloggers and writers have been murdered in the country since 2004. Very few – if any – of these murders have been satisfactorily resolved. At least 10 other print journalists have disappeared since in Mexico in the last decade; their fate remains unknown.

Join PEN in demanding that the Mexican authorities carry out prompt and rigorous investigations into all killings of journalists and writers and bring those responsible for these crimes to justice. Sign our petition today 

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