While I didn’t do much for Halloween this year, on November 1st I attended the opening ceremonies with other Amnesty International friends for the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) altar exhibit at El Centro de la Raza in Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood. While the Aztec Dancers won’t be there, the altars, including AI’s on the Women of Juarez, will be on display at El Centro de la Raza until the end of this week, November 20.
El Centro de la Raza
I got there early, thanks to the new light rail system that stops a block away (and maybe a miracle, for people who know my lack of timeliness), and joined in the brunch before festivities started.
Aztec dancers opened with a ceremony in the gazebo of El Centro.
After that, we all went in to view the altars constructed by a number of community organizations.
Altar on the history of slavery
People viewing Amnesty International Altar
Since 1993, almost 400 women and girls have been murdered and more than 70 remain missing in Ciudad Juárez and Chihuahua, Mexico. While Amnesty International commends the recent measures taken by the Mexican government, the response remains inadequate.
AI Altar on Women of Juarez
Unfortunately, the violence has spread in Juarez due to drug cartels, with some newspapers now referring to Juarez as the “murder capitol of the world.”
According to the London Telegraph:
The city of 1.5 million people just across the border from El Paso, Texas, had 1,600 murders last year but in 2009 that total was exceeded by late summer.
Latest figures from the Chihuahua state attorney general’s office showed there were 195 this month alone.
The annual murder rate has now reached 133 per 100,000 inhabitants, surpassing Caracas, Venezuela. The comparable murder rate in New York last year was six per 100,000.
El Centro de la Raza artwork on the Women of Juarez
On the way out, I realized ours was not the only display on the Women of Juarez. El Centro de Raza’s artwork on one of their stairs included crosses with the names of some of the dead young women of Juarez, with a green glass moon with a face in the center.
Not that the focus of the Dia de los Muertos is all gloom and doom. There is a tradition of welcoming the spirits of your ancestors back (which, I believe is also part of the Celtic ceremonies for Samhain, also on November 1, of which my knowledge is also woefully lacking). There were activities for children, including painting sugar skulls.
The moon was out over El Centro de la Raza by the time I left, hopping the light rail from the Beacon Hill station a block away.
Beacon Hill Light Rail Stop
Artwork inside Beacon Hill light rail stop
Altars will be on display from at El Centro de la Raza through the end of this week. El Centro de la Raza is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday from 10 am – 6 pm and Wednesday 12 pm – 8 pm. Volunteers from our local Amnesty International group will be hosting the exhibit on closing day, Friday November 20.