Chihuahua’s first female governor pushes economic development, end to violence against women

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EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The neighboring state of Chihuahua, Mexico, swore in its first female governor Wednesday night.

Maria Eugenia Campos Galvan, known to most as Maru Campos, vowed to continue promoting economic development and invest in technology to combat organized crime. She also promised to continue helping migrants, focusing on services to minors.

The swearing-in ceremony took place Wednesday at the “Big X” monument in Juarez with guests that included representatives from the U.S. Consulate and the secretaries of economic development and transportation from the State of New Mexico. Juarez is on the other side of the Santa Teresa, which is New Mexico’s top industrial gateway to Mexico.

“I want to send a clear message to those that generate violence: You will find a state that is strong and will defend the lives of Chihuahua residents. We will restore the peace,” Campos said at her swearing-in, addressing the drug-related violence that has claimed 4,000 lives in Juarez alone in the past three years.

Campos said she would coordinate with municipal and federal police departments to “have the best security strategy” and appointed a new attorney general to improve crime conviction rates she said are at 1%. In other words, 99 out of 100 crimes go unsolved.

A large group of women dressed in black held a protest near the monument fairgrounds, decrying rising violence against women. In Juarez, nearly 500 females have been murdered in the past three years, crimes that the previous administration dismissed as mostly “drug-related.”

“Feminicides in our state are a reality that should shame us but also move us to action. We need to abate the backlog (of cases) and stop being indolent. To reduce gender- and family-based violence it’s necessary to detect it and prevent it at its origin,” she said. “I am a woman and I will defend women who are abused physically and (psychologically).”

Campos, the former mayor of Chihuahua City, said her administration will continue assisting migrants. The state runs a migrant assistance center on the Juarez side of the Paso del Norte port of entry into the United States. She said the state has failed to protect children who find themselves alone far from their parents and their country.

“We have made a commitment with the Foreign Ministry and the Human Rights (Commission) to improve shelters in Juarez, including those for abused women. We need more children’s shelters,” she said.

Campos also said she would carry on with the prosecution of former Gov. Cesar Duarte, which her predecessor Javier Corral made a signature issue during his tenure.

“I want to make it clear […] In the Duarte case, we will not forgive, we will not forget,” she said.

But she chastised Corral for leaving the state in debt despite “not investing in social projects.”

“Nothing was done that had a profound change. The governor’s hoax hurts. Works remain unfinished here in Juarez and elsewhere in the state,” she said. “There is a cost to not doing anything, to omission. Today, we turn the page on that.”

Mario Humberto Vazquez Robles, the president of the Chihuahua legislature, said he was glad to see a woman leading the state given historical discrimination against women in Mexico, especially in circles of power.

“Today is a historical day for Chihuahua. […] which is going through a grave crisis of insecurity, resources and health aggravated by a COVID-19 pandemic that has bared the vulnerability of our institutions,” Vazquez said.

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