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A voice for the dead

Daily Pilot

If the walls of the student resource center at Corona del Mar High School could talk, it would sound horrific — on Tuesday, it was draped with photographs of missing or dead Mexican women.

During lunch, dozens of students gathered inside the small center and offered a moment of silence for the more than 400 women who’ve been reported missing or found dead in the Mexican border town of Ciudad Juarez across the border from El Paso, Texas.

Since 1993, the majority of the killings have gone unsolved, but lately the mystery has been upstaged by the violence associated with the Mexican drug cartels.

But not if the students of Corona del Mar had their way.


Last week, they hung at least 100 pink fabric squares around the high school’s quad, reminding students that while they go about their relatively normal lives, unsolved murders of women in Ciudad Juarez persist.

It was all part of a campaign carried out by the school’s Human Relations Council, whose purpose is to draw attention to plights, whatever and wherever they may be, said Denise Weiland, a faculty member who heads up the council of two-dozen students.

The council’s last get-together of the school year focused on one of the more grisly crime waves to hit the Mexican border town, something referred to in Spanish as “femicidio,” or “femicide,” the systematic slaying of women.

And the Mexican government has failed to get to the bottom of the killings, which mostly involved the kidnapping of women as they tried to return home from work in assembly plants, or maquiladoras, in Ciudad Juarez.


“It’s shocking how many people don’t know about this,” said Rachael Somerville, 17, a junior. “That’s where our job comes in. We’re here to spread the word.”

Eric Lam, a human relations specialist with the Orange County Human Relations Committee, was on hand to speak to the students and eventually take back the pink fabric squares that were lent to the students late last week as part of the countywide campaign.

So far, Lam said, the fabric has made its rounds to Katella High School in Anaheim and Cypress High School.

“It’s a sad situation, and it’s important that the lives of these women are remembered so that some day justice can be served,” Lam said.

But the plight of the Juarez women isn’t the only subject CdM has undertaken in conjunction with the county Human Relations committee.

They also try to break up cliques and urge students to “challenge their own perceptions of themselves,” said Paige Garcia, senior president of the Human Relations club.

Racism, sexism and discrimination are a few of the tough issues that they have brought to the forefront of the some 2,000 students inside the high school and the middle school, said Allegra Margolis, also a senior president of the club.

“Success isn’t just about academics,” she said. “It’s about being able to break through and change yourself and the way you perceive other people. Success is breaking through and not accepting stereotypes.”