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New Mexico State University

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Two NMSU programs to spotlight human rights activists

Two programs on Friday, Nov. 9, at New Mexico State University will spotlight Esther Chavez Cano and Paula Bonilla Flores, women activists from Ciudad Juarez.

The NMSU Library's Department of Archives and Special Collections will host a program and reception to honor Chavez from 2 to 4 p.m. Nov. 9 on the east side of the second floor of Zuhl Library.

The program will honor Chavez for her efforts toward establishing justice in the border region and celebrate her donation of the "Esther Chavez Cano" papers to the NMSU Library's Rio Grande Historical Collections. The collection documents 14 years of human rights activism in Ciudad Juarez, with a major focus on violence against women.

In 1992, Chavez began to collect documentation of the growing wave of violence against women in Juarez. She also founded the group "Ocho de Marzo" (Eighth of March) to pressure the Chihuahuan government to preserve and protect the rights of women. In 1999, Chavez established Casa Amiga Centro de Crisis, the first organization in Juarez and the northern border region to provide shelter, counseling and legal services to victims of violence.

Cynthia Bejarano, of the NMSU Criminal Justice Department, who has worked with families of victims of violence, contacted the NMSU Library about the possibility of preserving Chavez's archive. Molly Molloy, the NMSU Library Border and Latin American specialist, worked with Bejarano and the archives department to acquire the collection. Archivist Charles Stanford organized the collection and developed a guide to its contents.

Flores' presentation will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in Hardman Hall Room 208.

Flores, a Juarez community activist, will show a slide presentation on the work of Fundacion Maria Sagrario and the kindergarten she founded in the community of Lomas de Poleo in Juarez. Flores is the mother of Maria Sagrario Gonzalez Flores, one of more than 400 women who have been killed in the border region in the past 13 years.

Flores also will discuss the "Movimiento de Familias Fortalecidas Para Exigir Justicia," a group of families organized to stage protests at government sites in Ciudad Juarez, demanding justice for family members who have disappeared or been murdered.

The NMSU student organization Advocates to Stop Chihuahua Femicides will be raising funds at the Flores event to purchase toys and equipment for the Jardin de Ninos Maria Sagrario, the first kindergarten for families living in the Lomas de Poleo neighborhood in Juarez.

The two events are sponsored by the NMSU Library's Department of Archives and Special Collections, the NMSU student organization Advocates to Stop Chihuahua Femicides, the Center for Latin American and Border Studies and the Student Association for Latin American Studies. The presentations will be in English and Spanish with translation provided.

For more information, contact Molloy at (575) 646-6931 or mollymolloy@gmail.com.