On 25 November 2010, the Observatorio Nacional del Feminicidio (Mexico’s National Femicide Observatory, a non-governmental organization) highlighted the fact that five Mexican states –including Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosí and Oaxaca– had not made public the number of female murders committed in their territory during 2010. This caused a minor scandal in this north-eastern state, where the ruling party’s government (Partido de la Revolución Institucional or PRI) tightly controls the press and is highly averse to allowing stories prejudicial to the image of the governor, Eugenio Hernández Flores . Highlighting this lapse, a local web-based newspaper, Hoylaredo.net, concluded that the government wanted to hide the figures, and it also noted that in the week in which the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women was commemorated, the state’s Women’s Institute (Instituto de la Mujer Tamaulipeca) had not organised anything to mark the occasion, while “in other states […] fora, workshops and training on women’s rights” abounded. The President of a local charity, Viva Mujer (Long Live Women), Nayma Balquiarena Pérez, made the same accusation, signalling out the Procuraduría General de Justicia de Tamaulipas (the state’s prosecutor’s office or PGJT) y el Instituto de la Mujer Tamaulipeca for her criticism. The charge was hotly denied by the Institute’s President, Yolira Joch González, who pointed out that her office, following figures from the PGJT, had recorded 2, 000 crimes of violence against women in 2010
Probably as a result of this furore, last week, the PGJT and the Women’s Institute published their account of the femicides committed in Tamaulipas during 2010. According to these bodies, the figure is 27. The publication of this information has not quietened their opponents, however, mostly because such a small number does not seem credible. Especially since in June 2010, a report by the Centro de Estudios Fronterizos y de Promoción a los Derechos Humanos A.C., (Centre for Border Studies and the Promotion of Human Rights or Cefprodhac) demonstrated that there had already been 17 femicides in Tamaulipas in the first six months of the year. Questioned about the figure, the head of the municipal Women’s Institute in Reynosa, denied that the figure had been manipulated, arguing that the government had no reason to lie about this matter.
The problem is, of course, that even if the government were telling the truth, the culture of silence and the obsessive manipulation of the press by the PRI in Tamaulipas automatically make any institutional pronouncement on any issue questionable. On the subject of femicide, as in the question of the current drug violence, the government has every reason to lie, since its principal effort is to convince the population that “en Tamaulipas no pasa nada” (“Nothing ever happens in Tamaulipas”), despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary that this same population sees in front of its nose every single day.