Why do murders of women persist in Mexico?
In her latest novel, "Liliana's Invincible Summer", Mexican writer Cristina Rivera Garza narrates the life of her sister, who was murdered 30 years ago.
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On July 16, 1990, Liliana Rivera Garza, a 20-year-old Mexican architecture student, was the victim of a femicide. She had been trying for years to end her relationship with a high school boyfriend who insisted on not letting her go. A few weeks before the tragedy, Liliana finally made a definitive decision: she would leave him behind. She would start a new life. She would pursue a master's degree and then a doctorate; she would travel to London. However, his boyfriend's decision was that she would not have a life without him, so he decided to murder her.
Remembering the life of her sister and demanding justice for what happened was what motivated Mexican writer Cristina Rivera Garza to write "The Invincible Summer of Liliana", a novel published in Spanish a year ago and scheduled to be translated into English in 2023.
As the author herself writes in the book's introduction, "The Invincible Summer of Liliana" is an excavation into the life of a brilliant and daring woman who lacked, like ourselves, like everyone else, the language necessary to identify, denounce and fight against the sexist violence and partner terrorism that characterizes so many patriarchal relationships.
Wary of the legal process to try the murderer and afraid of forgetting her from his memory, Rivera Garza decided to investigate on her own everything she had left of her sister and reconstruct her life based on several boxes of letters, diary entries and the poems written by Liliana herself that, until January 2020, she did not dare to read.
"In the end, I was able to muster the courage to open the boxes in which we had kept my sister's belongings," Rivera Garza told The New York Times three weeks ago. "In a way, I had access to the instructions she left me to tell the story of her life."
In addition to working on the book, Rivera Garza opened an e-mail account in order to gather any new information about the man suspected in Liliana's murder.
Thanks to this, in August 2022 she received mail from a credible source who said that her ex-boyfriend had probably been living in Southern California under a false name, although he was now dead. For the time being, Mexican authorities have not yet cooperated in identifying him.
In the end, Rivera Garza decided not to let her frustration get the better of her and conceived the book as a tribute to her sister and a form of community mourning. The book was "written out of a wound that I share with so many other families in Mexico, Latin America and around the world," she told The New York Times.
In Mexico alone there were more than 1,000 murders officially classified as femicides last year. According to data from the association Impunidad Cero quoted by The NYTimes, at least half of the femicides reported in the country go unsolved. And most violence against women is not reported at all.