Animal Politico talks with The Red Note podcast's creative team about the femicide in Juarez
Producer Estefania Bonilla Hernandez, investigator Alicia Fernandez, and director Craig Whitney from The Red Note podcast were joined last week for an interview with Animal Politico by Norma Andrade, the mother of Juarez femicide victim Lilia Alejandra Garcia.
In the interview, The Red Note creative team and Norma spoke about the making of the podcast and the many unresolved femicides like Lilia Alejandra's in Juarez.
A full translation of Animal Politico's profile of The Red Note podcast is posted below.
Click on the following link to read the original Spanish article on Animal Politico's website: La Nota Roja, el pódcast que narra 27 años de feminicidios e impunidad en Ciudad Juárez
The Red Note, the podcast that narrates 27 years of femicides and impunity in Ciudad Juárez
Esmeralda, Silvia, Elizabeth, Olga Alicia, Andrea and Dana are some of the names, stories, lives and deaths narrated during the podcast, where the voices of their loved ones were the ones who spoke for them.
By Animal Politico Staff
"We found Ale on February 21, less than 24 hours after she was murdered, they held her in captivity for six days, but what really happened, we don't know," Norma Andrade, Lilia's mother, is heard saying. Alejandra García Andrade, murdered almost 20 years ago.
Her name is not the only one on the list of femicides that occurred in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, and her story is part of The Red Note, a podcast about the crimes committed in the border city that signals the silence of the authorities.
Throughout ten chapters the history of femicides in the city is narrated, from the discovery of the body of Alma Chavira Farael, considered the first victim of murders against women, in 1993, to the present day, where the identity of most of the guilty is still unknown.
Researchers, journalists, and relatives of the victims participated in the project.
The project was created by the American director Craig Whitney, the producer Estefanía Bonilla and the journalist from Juarez Alicia Fernández, with the advice of Lydia Cacho (who also does the narration), the participation of the dubbing director Rebeca Gómez and the sound editing of Javier Umpierrez.
"When we began to talk about the history of 1993 and the beginnings of all this phenomenon, people began to disconnect a bit," says Estefanía Bonilla in an interview with Animal Político, referring to the little attention paid to issues with as much history as that of the femicides in Ciudad Juárez. The dynamics of the podcast, she says, was to "try to emphasize that this is still a current issue, it is still something that continues to happen today."
The city that kills women
“The courage that one has, the impotence in the face of the lack of response from the authorities, is where the strength comes from to get ahead,” confesses Norma Andrade, mother of Lilia Alejandra, a 17-year-old kidnapped and murdered in 2001. Despite the time that has elapsed, Alejandra's case has not been clarified, "and in February it will be 20 years now ... 20 years in February," reflects her mother.
The city that popularized talents like “El divo de Juárez” has popularized itself as one of the cities where women are killed most frequently. During this year alone, 175 cases of femicides have been registered, which meant an increase of more than 30% compared to last year.
However, the number of investigation folders did not come close to the casualty figures. For Norma Andrade, who has demanded justice for her daughter for four presidential terms, the indifference of the authorities stems from a lack of political will. "But if there is no political will and they do not recognize that there is a problem, then they are not going to find a solution," she says.
Norma's testimony is one of those that were included in The Red Note. Mothers, fathers and friends of young people murdered in Ciudad Juárez make up the voices of the stories explored during the 40-minute episodes.
Esmeralda, Silvia, Elizabeth, Olga Alicia, Andrea and Dana are some of the names, stories, lives and deaths narrated on the podcast, where the voices of their loved ones were the ones who spoke for them.
“It seems that the government forgets that it has outstanding debts with the families, with the children, with the mothers, the sisters. That our daughters become figures and they no longer care”, says Norma Andrade.
For Norma, participating in spaces where they can talk about their daughters is the only way to get their voice back: "Telling them here I am, you have not found my murderers, my family keeps crying to me, when are you going to do something to make me really resolve this situation?"
When talking about Alejandra, the memory of when she was assigned to be a commander in her high school escort comes to mind. Her mother laughs at the reminiscence of the doubt that both she and her other daughter had about how the young woman's orders would be heard, since she had a thin voice.
"When we started to hear her give the orders, we said: 'Ah, man, where did the seriousness come from in this voice?'" Laughs Mrs. Norma. She says that Alejandra was a defender of her rights and was also an active participant in many extracurricular workshops, from basketball, chess, cheers and dance, to journalism. Alejandra planned to be a journalist.
"They are lives, they are lives that had dreams, that had illusions, many of them students, so it is something that the authority loses sight of," she tells Animal Político, the woman whose struggle has inspired hundreds of other mothers. "And if all the moms were to count them, I think that volumes and volumes and volumes of books would come out and we wouldn't finish."
Experiences during the process
Two days after filming began, conducting interviews at the Municipal Institute for Women in downtown Ciudad Juárez, the production team experienced a firearm attack in broad daylight.
"The only thing I could say about those situations is that we were in the wrong place at the wrong time," says Estefanía. In the first episode of the podcast you can hear the moment when fire was opened on the government building. The team does not know with certainty what the attack was due to, the options: settle accounts with agents of the institute, scare the group of journalists, or look for a girl present, who had an ex-boyfriend who was part of a criminal group.
"We live in a country where attacks on journalists are a reality, both physical attacks, unfortunately the loss of some colleagues has also been a terrible factor, a terrible situation," Alicia Fernández accepts. The day after the attack, the culprits were captured: three teenagers between 17 and 16 years old.
However, they are other memories that the team has about creating the podcast. In the case of Craig Whitney, the writing of the scripts was the most remarkable, as well as the recording of Lydia Cacho's voice, which had to be done remotely and required 10 hours a day.
For Estefanía Bonilla, the resilience of the victims 'relatives is what shows her that, facing situations such as those in Ciudad Juárez, one has to continue fighting and advancing to create solutions, such as the special prosecutors' offices, Olimpia's Law or the Ingrid's Law.
"If it is not for the great struggle that mothers and fathers and families in general have led in search of their daughters, it is impossible for us to have conquests for women," she says.
On a historical memory
The podcast took about two weeks of reporting and months of post-production, The Red Note. For its main creators, Craig, Estefanía and Alicia, the podcast is a starting point to show and learn from mistakes.
"The stories are very similar, the investigations carried out by members of the government, it is the same story again and again, the characters are different but the events are similar," observes the director, who was in charge of not only writing of the script in Spanish, but also of the writing in its English version.
For Estefanía, the creation of these contents is essential, since with them a historical memory is created that is in charge of showing the path that society has had throughout history.
"It is necessary that we continue to maintain all this type of memory to understand how it is that we are advancing as a country and if we are not advancing then try to find where it is that we are not advancing," says the producer.
The podcast premiered on September 22 and aired its tenth, and final, episode on November 17. It is available in both Spanish and English, on streaming platforms such as Apple Podcast, Spotify and others.