The rape and murder of Micaela Garcia, a young activist of 21 years, reminds us of the intolerable level of violence, machismo and injustice in Argentina. Español
This article was published as part of our partnership with Cosecha Roja. You can read the original here.
The image of Micaela fill the social networks. In the photo she smiles; she plays with boys from Villa Mandarina; paints a mural; marches in the streets for the thirty-thousand missing people, dressed in a shirt that says #NiUnaMenos. Her friends, family and colleagues had been looking for her for a week. Every day that passed brought a new clue: the security cameras at a bowling alley, messages on her mobile phone, her sandals, her trousers, her keys. Today, her half-buried body appeared near route 12, in Gualeguay. Hope became fury. Now, in public squares across the country, hundreds are looking for justice.
Micaela is not just a picture that repeats itself. She has a story, she had projects, and a beautiful life. When returning from a graduation trip, she and three friends from high school created their own farewell ritual: the word ‘ohana’, which means family, and this was tattooed on her body. That family, created between four friends, formed over five years in the Justo José de Urquiza National School in Concepción del Uruguay was about to be separated. Each one would be going to study in a different city and would lose the day-to-day life they had.
Micaela fought throughout that final year, and convinced her parents to let her stay and live in her Grandmother’s house, when her father Yuyo found work in Colon. They could not say no: Mica was a standard bearer, one of the school’s brightest, who competed in aerobic gymnastics and was an example for the whole school. She was rebellious, but responsible.
On long weekends and summers, the four friends would get together and everything would be like it used to be. La Negra – Mica´s nickname, like her mother when she was a teenager – carried her guitar back and forth, between the summer camp where she taught, her studies in Physical Education and her work at the Club Regatas. At night she liked going to see live music, and she loved concerts. In march, she had travelled to Olavarría to see the Indio Solari.
During her adolescence, Mica was part of the aerobic gymnast’s team, competing at regional and national levels, living between Concepción and Paraná and Buenos Aires, where she trained, always accompanied by her parents. Her mother had studied to become a gymnastics judge, and her father managed the sponsors for her trips to Germany and Mexico. In her fifth year, she stopped competing, the travelling having worn her down. And already everyone started knowing who she was.
In 2014, she started university in Gualeguay. She saw very little of her parents, because she alternated her weekend trip between Colón and Concepción, where she was an active social movement member. She did social work in several neighbourhoods, but her place was Villa Mandarina, where she was in charge of the school’s sports and café. What she enjoyed the most – say her friends, without being asked – was to be with the children. At that moment it was full. “The little ones loved her, and now they are waiting for her. That hurts us”, says Carla, who with her friends and the whole neighbourhood are in mourning: this was a young girl, and an emerging figure in the leadership of the province.
The first time she got into politics was in 2011, when she was involved in building the student centre at her school. La Negra and Mili, one of her friends, presented the green list. They headed it with their own names, as president and vice/president. “We lost, like we lost the war”, laughs Mili. They then became active members in the JP Evita Entre Rios movement.
Her other friend, Carla, met Mica in 2012, when they painted a mural on a street in Concepción. They immediately got on well. At first, it was just laughter, but then it became a deeper bond. “We all saw from the first moment that she was such a strong example to others, especially for her commitment”, says Cosecha Roja. Mica was the one who went for it first, the one who got up earliest, the one who picked up the phone before it had barely started ringing. She always did the same with every task she had: preparing the milk, planning the sports activities at the school in Villa Mandarina, or taking greater responsibilities in her social movement’s area.
Mica was always smiling. Now that her classmates are putting her story together, they remember that they never saw her angry. Yes, she was infuriated by the social injustices she saw around her. And as a social figure, she was one of the first to take up gender issues. “I want you to remember that she fought for all of us, who now fight for her, and also for other women and men, those who still don’t realise that we have to achieve the country we dream of, a society that is not patriarchal, sexist and misogynist”, says Carla.
During the last year, became really did become an important figure for her movement. Since she disappeared last Saturday, her colleagues in the Evita movement distributed her picture. The image of Mica smiling, playing with a group of children deep within the countryside, until her body appeared. Now friends and colleagues from her social movement remember her alive. They break-up on the other end of the telephone as they organise tonight’s march, and put together songs to remember her: “La Negra did not die, she became a banner”.
The femicide that killed Micaela took the light from the sun. The children at the sports centre will wait for her tomorrow, to play with her. Mili demands that La Negra will be the last victim. Carla demands that her struggle has not been in vain.