A media slip-up in late January led to death threats that shut down the Mexican female biker gang Las Guerreras, a group of ten middle-class, professional women on bright pink custom choppers out to deliver hope and help to neighbors caught in the crossfire of a years-long drug in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Until their disbanding, the women were a voice of protest and call for peace in Juarez (listed last August by CNN as one of the ten most dangerous cities in the world). The name “Las Guerreras”, translates as “The Female Warriors”.
This was not your average charity run: every Sunday the gang rode through the unpaved streets to hand out food and medicine they’d purchased themselves to those living under scrap-metal roofs or out of makeshift wooden shacks. Most of the recipients were single-mothers, addicts, the elderly or the jobless who receive little or nothing in the way from social assistance from the state. Members of the group say it is such depravity that fuels much of the violence.
Motorcycles have become a grim symbol in Juarez, as they are routinely used in drive-by shootings or gun-downs. The women aimed to project a “less threatening, feminine image” with their pink choppers, and to make them a symbol of hope for the residents of Juarez.
The story was picked up by the international media in January and was reported on as far away as Spain. That’s where news of the ladies came under a bold headline: “Las Guerreras: Ten bikers who are challenging the drug-traffickers of Juarez”. It was interpreted very literally by interested parties. Shortly thereafter the women received death threats from the cartels and the group has since been disbanded.
This serves as a reminder to how media sensationalism can have grave consequences. A news channel out of El Paso, Texas is attempting to contact the leader of the group after readers called in asking how to support or donate to their cause, with the hopes that the journalistic mistake from abroad can be reversed.
What we can wish for in the meantime is that the story of these women will inspire others to follow their example of charity, kindness and courage.
Photos: Reuters Gael Gonzlaez
Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com