By Valori Corral-Nava
“They never did any harm to anyone and still they continued to kill them… For those of us left we continue to struggle and ask for justice.”
EL PASO – Bianey Reyes, 18, nervously pats down the wrinkles in her light-blue t-shirt. She searches for the courage to look up from the floor and her Converse shoes, then raises her head high and sets her brown eyes on a room filled with 20 visiting journalists. In a quiet, restrained voice, she begins to describe the kidnapping of various members of her family, and the murders of her father, uncles, aunts, and cousins by suspected members of the Mexican military in el Valle de Juarez over the last five years.
“In all of these events that happened to my family, the military was always involved and they have yet to arrest anyone responsible for the murders,” said Reyes, who attends El Paso Community College and was granted asylum in the U.S. this summer after a three-year wait.
Reyes testimony at a recent immigration reporting workshop at the University of Texas at El Paso marks the first time she has gone public with her ordeal. She told her story in Spanish to the journalists through an interpreter, Molly Molloy, a librarian at New Mexico State University who daily documents the crime and drug-related violence in neighboring Ciudad Juarez through her e-newsletter Frontera-List, which has nearly 1,000 followers.
The attacks on Reyes’s family began when her cousin Julio Cesar Reyes was murdered in November of 2008. After that, other family members began receiving death threats. In el Valle de Juarez, the Reyes family was referred to as los panaderos, the bakers, and had operated a small bakery in the community since the time of her grandfather. They had a history of social activism and frequently helped solve problems for members of the community.
“Vaya con los panaderos, los van a ayudar. Go with the bakers, they will help you,” Reyes recalled how neighbors often referred to her family.
“My aunt Josefina Reyes Salazar was then killed in January of 2010; my family continued to demonstrate and protest to the authorities so that my family’s murders should be cleared up, but the government never gave us any answers,” she said.
El Paso Immigration Attorney Eduardo Beckett (right) considers that immigration judges in El Paso “have become desensitized to the realities of the violence in Mexico”. (Luis Hernández/Borderzine.com)
Next to die was her father, Rubén Reyes, who was murdered in Ciudad Juarez on August 18 of that year. “That same day the Mexican military…