Ortiz Uribe has said multiple times in various episodes of “Forgotten” that her mother, who used to accompany her on those post-church day trips into Juárez as a child, begged her not to report on the femicides, for fear that those involved in the crimes might come after the journalist and her family. “Getting more interviews [to finish the season] means crossing into Juárez, which I haven’t done since the pandemic began,” Ortiz Uribe said. “I am conscious that I’m highlighting organized crime and corruption in Mexico in a way that, maybe, some who are still involved, don’t appreciate.
They’d drive with relative ease over the border, and head into Juárez—stopping for lunch at their favorite family-run restaurant, shopping in the mercado de artesanias (the artisan market downtown) and, before returning to the U. S. , stop at a gas station located a stone’s throw from the border, and pick up crates of Fanta and Mexican Coca-Cola, the tasty kind made with real sugar. “We didn’t go to Juárez and look over our shoulders or feel nervous,” Ortiz Uribe said on a recent afternoon, calling from her home in El Paso, where she still resides. “A lot has changed.
Although the pandemic halted this movement, Ortiz Uribe saw similarities between those who took to the streets to speak out against violent deaths and the people who protested in the United States following the killing of George Floyd. “One of the things I hope to do is talk about the parallels between these two movements,” Ortiz Uribe said. (She and Woloshyn are still working on “Forgotten,” and two more episodes are slated to come out before the season ends. ) “One of the major themes of the protests in the United States is police brutality, but it’s also exploitation in these denunciations.
In the podcast, Ortiz Uribe and Woloshyn have two different narrative functions: the former is an insider, with family history in Juárez and a lifetime of going back and forth between the border, while the latter is an outsider, who comes to each episodes with fresh eyes—and questions that help a more green, uninformed listener follow along.
When the North American Free Trade Agreement was first enacted in 1994, a flood of foreign-owned factories entered Ciudad Juárez—and they were staffed primarily by women. “It switched the gender roles in a way that was unexpected and uncomfortable for traditional Mexican society,” Ortiz Uribe said. “Women had their own jobs.
Good luck solving those murders and good luck getting your shit together, Mexico,’” Ortiz Uribe said. “It may feel more remote, like this is happening somewhere else, but it is our policies and our consumption habits in the U. S. that are directly tied to what is happening to Juárez.
The journalist Mónica Ortiz Uribe has only pleasant memories of a childhood spent between her hometown of El Paso, Texas, and the border city of Ciudad Juárez in Mexico.
Ortiz Uribe didn’t think she’d become an El Paso lifer, nor did she know years ago, visiting the mercado in Ciudad Juárez, that the city would become the center of her work. But it has.
Governmental corruption abounds, antiquated gender roles are called into question—and many of the women who disappeared were snatched from or near the very factories where American goods, like fast-fashion and PPE supplies used during the coronavirus, were produced. “On the surface, the show has nothing to do with racial protests, cries for justice, and criticism of brutal authorities that are consuming the U. S. right now,” Woloshyn explained. “But in another sense, it actually has everything to do with that.
Alongside her co-host Oz Woloshyn, the two radio journalists launched the podcast “Forgotten: Women of Juárez” in June this year. “Forgotten” examines the mass disappearances of women in the border city who, more often than not, turn up dead (these crimes have become known as “femicides”).