Isabel Cabanillas, a 26-year-old designer, artist and women’s rights activist in Mexico, was brutally killed on January 18 in Juárez by way of a bullet to the head. Her death made waves around the country and uprooted dormant fury over countless murders in the notoriously violent city.
In 2019, María Salguero designed a map that detailed how many women were murdered that year in Mexico, and where. Salguero noticed discrepancies and lack of insight into the murders in Juárez and took it upon herself to dig deeper. The study, published by local newspaper El Heraldo de México, revealed that at least 311 women were murdered in Juárez in the last three years, and 3,835 women in the country as a whole. Chihuahua and Juárez are reportedly the two cities in which femicides, or gender-based killings of women and girls, are most prevalent.
“The way that Isabel was killed is the way thousands of others have been killed in this city,” Jorge Perez, a friend of Cabanillas, told NPR.
“Ni una más, ni una más, ni una asesinada más,” women chanted on Sunday, according to El Paso Times. Not one more, not one more murder. Seven women were murdered thus far in January, according to a spokesperson for feminist collective Hijas de su Maquilera Madre.
The collective has been very vocal about the case from the beginning and publicly deemed the state responsible for the insecurity and lack of safety felt by the city’s women and activists.
“In Juarez the violence has not stopped. If the [community] does not come together, we will never be heard. Isabel was a victim of the very violence she fought against. As well as an activist, she was a mom, sister and friend,” a spokesperson told Norte Digital.
Cabanillas is survived by her 4-year-old son.
Women and allies dressed in black, with pink signage and masks, gathered at The Paso del Norte International Bridge between border cities and blocked it off for at least three hours. A few protesters even laid in fake pools of blood in hopes that performance art would help get the message across.
Signs that read “Isa lives, the fight continues” were splattered on pillars with pink spray paint.
The message is directed at Juárez Mayor Armando Cabada, Governor Javier Corral, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and other authorities.
“[Cabanillas’] death is a political femicide that attacks all women in the fight in Juárez,” the collective wrote on Facebook. “It represents an attack on the entire movement.”