Dia de los Muertos in Des Moines pays tribute to victims of gender-based violence


For Dia de los Muertos, Guadalupe Valladores and her family put a photo of her grandfather, candles, bread and Mexican Coco-Cola at their traditional ofrenda, an altar, in their living room.

Candles and Mexican Coco-Cola – his grandfather’s favorite – will take him back to Valladores and his family on November 2, when, according to legend, adult spirits can walk through the gates of paradise and reunite with their loved ones for 24 hours. time.

Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is all about kissing and remembering the dead, Valladores, 23, told the Des Moines Register, his face painted like a sugar skull – an iconic image of Dia de los Muertos .

“We remember them for who they were, the love they brought to this world,” she said. “Remembering, they never die.

Guadalupe Valladores, 23, of Des Moines, poses for a photo during a Dia de los Muertos celebration hosted by the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence on October 23, 2021 at La Placita Mall in Des Moines.

The same goes for victims of gender-based violence, she said, which is why on Saturday afternoon she attended the Dia de Los Muertos celebration of the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence which honored and commemorated them – especially violence against Latinas, Blacks, Indigenous people and other women of color.

Latin, black, indigenous and other women of color gathered at the event to say “ni una menos” – not one less woman.

“We bring back the stories of those who have been lost to gender-based violence,” said Maria Corona, executive director of the coalition, in the courtyard of La Placita shopping center on East Grand.

Behind her, a colorful Mexican ofrenda decorated with candles, flowers, and photos and names of dead or missing women and girls in Iowa: Breasia Terrell, Rita Janelle Papekee and Mollie Tibbetts. Names of women from across the country were also present: Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, Vanessa Guillén, and more.

The Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence hosted a Dia de los Muertos celebration on October 23, 2021 at La Placita Mall in Des Moines.  There, a traditional Mexican ofrenda, an alter, honored and remembered deceased women in Iowa and across the country.

“These are stories that are never told. These are the stories of many Latin, black, Asian and Indigenous women. LGBTQ women,” Corona said.

According to the World Health Organization, about 1 in 3 women in the world have experienced violence in their lifetime.

Speakers at the Dia de los Muertos event said women of color and indigenous women were at increased risk of being victims of violence. They spoke about several movements in recent years, including the Say Her Name movement, the Ni Una Menos movement, the Stop Asian Hate movement, and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s Movement.

“Hope you can see us and know that we’re still here,” said Tyra Wanatee-Flores, a descendant of the Sac & Fox tribe from Mississippi, Iowa.

The Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence hosted a Dia de los Muertos celebration on October 23, 2021 at La Placita Mall in Des Moines.  There, a traditional Mexican ofrenda, an alter, honored and remembered deceased women in Iowa and across the country.

“We say ‘say her name’ because no one else will,” said Josie Mulvihill, a young black organizer.

“Hatred is there, it is there. But today… love is there. The strength is there. The courage is there. The resilience is there,” said Christine Her, executive director of Art Force Iowa .

It’s the community that helps each other, said Brenda Rodriguez, local organizer and business owner. Rodriguez said she suffered from gender-based violence since childhood.

It was the Des Moines community that broke the cycle of violence for her.

“You can go out and you have to go out. The community is there to help you,” Rodriguez said through an interpreter. “We deserve a good life, a life free from violence.”

In addition to resources for victims of domestic violence, participants sipped hot chocolate, ate cupcakes and Mexican sweet bread, watched Mexican folk dancing, enjoyed face painting, and a contest for the best Catrín and Catrina.

Some also put the names of their relatives on the ofrenda.

For more information on the resources provided by the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence, visit their website at www.icadv.org.

The Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence hosted a Dia de los Muertos celebration on October 23, 2021 at La Placita Mall in Des Moines.  There, a traditional Mexican ofrenda, an alter, honored and remembered deceased women in Iowa and across the country.

Andrea Sahouri covers social justice for the Des Moines registry. She can be contacted at [email protected], on Twitter @andreamsahouri, or by phone at 515-284-8247.


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