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Whitney, Bonilla Hernandez discuss the making of The Red Note podcast with Noroeste in Sinaloa

Craig Whitney and Estefania Bonilla Hernandez, the director and producer of The Red Note podcast, sat down for an in-depth interview with the Culiacán, Sinaloa-based news platform Noroeste last week to talk about the making of the podcast.

A translation of Craig and Estefania's interview with Noroeste is re-posted below.

Click on the following link to read the interview in the original Spanish: Feminicidios, tema que se mantiene vigente y pendiente en México


Femicides, an issue that remains current and pending in Mexico

In the context of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, Estefanía Bonilla Hernández and Craig Whitney, producer and director of The Red Note, a podcast narrated by Lydia Cacho, talk about the investigation of femicides in Ciudad Juárez

By América Armenta / Noroeste

CULIACÁN. - The podcast The Red Note is a way of understanding the current situation in Mexico and how femicides and disappearances continue to be perpetrated long after the cases began in Ciudad Juárez, explained Estefanía Bonilla Hernández, producer, and Craig Whitney, director, of the podcast narrated by journalist Lydia Cacho.

In the context of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence and in a state like Sinaloa that has registered 37 murders of women during 2020, in addition to a 15 percent increase in complaints of family violence and an increase of 13 percent compared to the average number of rapes, all of which precede femicides, she invite us to listen to narratives that are not alien to the reality of different states and of all of Mexico.

"I invite you to listen to the podcast as a way to understand why right now we are in the situation we are in at the national level, it is not only about the people and women who have been victims of femicide in Ciudad Juárez or that they have been disappeared, it is a matter of national emergency, which has to do with femicides and disappearances of all women at the national level,” said Bonilla Hernández.

The producer explained that it is an issue that examines the great structures of the system, why femicides continue to occur and women disappear, as well as why there continues to be impunity around the cases, adding that the collective organization of family members and feminist movements have achieved changes, showing that unity is necessary to achieve equity and equality.

"I am not going to deny that it is very strong to listen to it, because it is, but I hope you do not miss the opportunity to face a story that I consider is beautifully told, Lydia Cacho does a beautiful job in that sense and I hope that will help us to raise awareness, help to wake up and understand that the time is now to start moving and achieve the society we want," she added. Whitney explained that the initial plan was to work on film about a family in Ciudad Juárez, with a missing relative, but they managed to have different sources and openness with relatives of victims that allowed them to have a more comprehensive work in the end.

The young man stressed that the problem of femicides is not only in the perpetrators of the crime, but in the government, corruption, in arms and drug trafficking, human trafficking, among others that are linked.

They considered it important to talk about Ciudad Juárez because it was the first place that kept a record and a movement for murders and disappearances of women, hence they took the city as a laboratory.

The investigation allowed them to understand that in that city there was a particular situation with the North American Free Trade Agreement and the movement to maquiladora factories in the cities of the northern border, due to migrants and employment, where there was a bottleneck because the government did not have the capacity to provide services to everyone, resulting in a place overcrowded with cheap labor.

According to the director, the work took eight years to do interviews, visit spaces and gather the necessary information from the podcast, while from the moment the contract was signed to the distribution of the first chapter, around nine months passed .

"The recording and production was very fast, but it was a time of preparation and production of 8 years before," he emphasized.

Thanks to the support of the renowned photographer Alicia Fernandez, they were able to get closer to families more easily and at the time of writing the scripts, Whitney had the support of Lydia Cacho, who is an executive producer. In addition to the team of about 20 people, of which 10 went to the field.


Between the opportunity to speak with the families, official sources, and participate in activities directly related to the victims, the team also had unpleasant experiences, but which allowed them to understand the reality and a context in which they would carry out their work.

In the first chapter, Lydia Cacho explains that the team was present during an attack by an armed group when they were about to conduct an interview at the Institute of Women in Ciudad Juárez, a violent act unrelated to the podcast's work, which they considered to be in the wrong time and place.

“I was very scared at that time because during a shooting there is a lot of confusion what is happening, who are the people who are attacking the building, we sometimes think about the podcast, but when we saw the faces of the other people I could see that the women of the the institute were worried because it was an attack against the institute or the victims of violence who were looking for help thought it was their ex-boyfriend or something like that,” said the young man from Texas.

Whitney realized that the experience was difficult, however, there are other people who have more dangerous and difficult situations, but he hopes not to experience it again.

Bonilla considered that it was a strong event, unfortunately for her, of Colombian nationality, but with 15 years living in Mexico, it was not the first time she had experienced it, since similar events had occurred in Colombia like when Pablo Escobar Gaviria exploded car bombs in shopping centers , but she understood that for people part of the team it was a new experience and there were those who considered giving up the project.

"I think that also led to a level of awareness of what country you live in and what kind of realities you have to live and that other people unfortunately that is their day to day," she highlighted. Opening

To make the podcast, Bonilla and Whitney highlighted that they had a good relationship and response from the people whose experiences are narrated, they also understood that there are families who do not want to talk about their experiences, since it is a tragic day to be remembering it.

At the beginning, they commented, there was some resistance, but those who agreed to speak with the team were totally open, for this they prepared to ask the correct questions in the interviews, have a correct approach and above all show empathy with people, which helped them to work in harmony. While with the authorities they received facilities such as offering spaces for interviews, if needed, showing openness so that the project could be carried out in the best way.

The Red Note

The podcast is on the Apple platform, so they ask the audience to leave their review, so it will be easier for the podcast to scale and be found in an easier way and be recommended to new people, as well as on Spotify .

It can be heard in two languages, Spanish and English, for which they appreciate the criticism of those who do not speak Spanish and were not familiar with the issue of femicides or what happened in Ciudad Juárez, who have expressed congratulations to the team, from the general public, even English-speaking journalists.


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