Almost 45,000 Mexican women were widowed between between 2010 and 2019 due to violence, according to data collected at last year’s census.
An average of 12.3 women lost their husbands to violent, mainly drug-related crime every day in the 10-year period between the start of 2010 and the end of 2019. All told, 44,905 women were left widows.
In the same period, 3,043 men were widowed due to violence, meaning that attacks, most of which were perpetrated with firearms, destroyed a total of 47,948 marriages during the period. Violence widowed 26,508 women and men in the preceding decade, meaning that 74,456 people have lost their husbands and wives to crime since the year 2000.
More than 6,250 people were widowed in Guerrero due to violence between 2010 and 2019, more than in any other state. Of those, 94% were women and 6% were men.
México state ranked second with 4,742 people widowed in the decade-long period followed by Chihuahua (3,979), Guanajuato (3,699), Michoacán (3,047), Jalisco (2,924) and Mexico City (1,634).
One of Mexico’s “narco widows” is a Michoacán woman identified only as Azucena by the newspaper Milenio. Her husband, a state police officer, was shot and killed in March 2019 on the highway to Tocumbo, a Michoacán municipality that borders Jalisco.
Azucena told Milenio that she has struggled to rebuild her life since her husband’s death, explaining that the state government hasn’t paid out on his life insurance or provided educational scholarships for her children.
“We live in uncertainty. I have a 13-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son who have faced a lot of deprivation.”
“The pain and the despair are permanent,” Azucena said, referring to the emotional distress of losing her husband.
Another widow is Maritza, a Guerrero woman whose husband’s body was found in a hidden grave after he was murdered. She said she also lost her home, her friends and her peace of mind as a result of her husband’s violent death. In addition, Maritza received a death threat that warned that she would be “disappeared” like her husband.
Left without the financial support, Maritza opened a business on two occasions but was forced to close both due to threats she received. She now lives in hiding and has closed her social media accounts and constantly changes her cell phone number.
A University of Guadalajara study found that the majority of women who are widowed are left in precarious financial situations and that many of them lack the education levels required to get good-paying jobs and get ahead. As a result, they’re often forced to work low-paid jobs to support themselves and any children they might have as best as they can.
The study also found that many widowed women have difficulties accessing pensions and payments they should receive due to their husbands’ deaths and that some have had to flee their homes due to threats, as was the case with Maritza.
Violent crime has long plagued Mexico but worsened in recent years. New records for homicides were set in each of 2017, 2018 and 2019 and only declined 0.4% in 2020 despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Data shows that the number of people widowed on an annual basis due to violence declined at the start of former president Enrique Peña Nieto’s 2012-2018 term after rising above 5,000 in 2010 and 2011 during the presidency of Felipe Calderón, who launched a militarized “war on drugs” after taking office in late 2006 that has been blamed for increasing bloodshed.
However, the number of people widowed due to violence rose above 5,000 again in 2017 and reached 5,816 – the highest level of the decade – in 2018. The figure declined in 2019, President López Obrador’s first full year in office, but only by 0.8% to 5,678.
Source: Milenio (sp)