Responses by local and federal authorities are encapsulated by a sense of impunity, which ultimately “permits violence to escalate and remake [destructive] social relations so that as the index of crime rises, the rate of denunciation drops.”

Alicia Schmidt Camacho, “Ciudadana X: Gender Violence and the Denationalization Women’s Rights in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.” CR: The New Centennial Review 5.1 (2005): 269, Academic Search Premier, EBSCO. 5 Sept 2010 <>.


Local Responses

The responses to these disappearances and murders by local and state authorities are almost as horrifying as the gender-based violence itself. The local authorities have constructed narratives of the missing and murdered women’s “double lives,” accusing the women of promiscuity, prostitution, and reflecting a “they asked for it” attitude.[i] Such narratives lead to layers of official impunity at the local level.  Not only are investigations tampered with, or neglected entirely, but preventive measures on the part of local authorities are not supported at all.  Thus, any efforts to provide refuge from violence or support these women and their families is left to grassroots organizations, like Casa Amiga, who, despite underfunding, continue to raise awareness of the Disappeared and call for an end to femicide.[ii]

Federal Responses

The federal authorities’ responses to the disappearances and murders are not much better than those of the local authorities. Citing ‘constitutional limitations’ as a result of the Border Industrialization Program and NAFTA, the federal government claim their inability to investigate and prosecute the murders and disappearances directly.[iii] Despite reports of ‘action’ being published by the Mexican federal government, no legitimate investigation, arrests or trials have occurred.[iv] This jurisdictional bind has manifested criticism on the part of international women and human rights organizations; however, the Mexican federal government has reverted to minimizing the issue.  Understanding the maquiladora zones, free trade agreements like NAFTA, and the associated disappearances and murders of the women, many of whom work in the maquiladora factories, renders the ingrained impunity disturbingly clear. To put it simply, investigation of these disappearances and murders is bad for business and thus, investigations fail to proceed.


[i] Jessica Livingston, “Murder in Juárez: Gender, Sexual Violence, and the Global Assembly Line,” Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 25.1 (2004): 62-63, JSTOR, 1 Sep. 2010 <>.; Wright 186-187.

[ii] Swanger 115-116.

[iii] Acosta, Mariclaire, “The Women of Ciudad Juárez,” UC Berkeley: Center for Latin American Studies. 3 (2005): 13, CLAS Policy Papers 10 Aug 2010 <>.

[iv] Acosta 11.