The Painted Angels of Ciudad Juárez
Local artists in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico have found a profound and beautiful way to pay tribute to the lives of missing women from their city. Painting their images in murals.
The project entitled, Luchando Hasta Encontrarlas (Fighting Until We Find Them), is run by the mothers (and other members) of the missing and presumed murdered women. They work with local artists to have their daughters’ images rendered in murals so that they can never be forgotten. Many of these missing cases are linked to human and sex trafficking as well as the epidemic gang violence that exists in that region. Since 1993, more than 430 women have been killed or disappeared. According to the National Citizen Femicide Obervatory, “at least 6 women are targeted every day in Mexico.”
In a show of solidarity many public buildings, churches, businesses, etc. have donated their outer walls to be used as canvases. The families work with the artists, and in some cases, assist in painting the murals. The goal of the project is to paint 200 of these colourful tributes across Ciudad Juárez so that no one in the city can ever forget the tragedy of these lost women.
One such artist, Maclovio Macias put his well-honed graffiti skills to use painting the murals. His inspiration came from participating in a 200-mile march alongside the many mothers whose daughters disappeared. His first mural depicted a group of mothers and daughters from this march and was painted on the back wall of a school in a busy intersection of the city. This past summer, in an act of pure disregard for the missing and their families, this precious homage to the disappeared was painted over with white paint. Could it have been the school’s doing? A group of mothers is trying to have a meeting with the school directors to try ask questions and hopefully learn the truth.
No other theories have presented themselves and no one has come forward to claim responsibility. An initial report indicated that the municipal government ordered the repainting, but this has never been confirmed. One mother lamented upon hearing the news of the repainting, that her daughter Luz Angelica whose image appeared in the repainted mural, was taken from her a second time.
Maclovio vows to repaint the mural and return the faces of the missing to their mothers, families and communities. These murals are a living legacy and reminder of what has been lost. They deserve to be seen and protected.