Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The ghost rapes of Bolivia

Story by: Mail Online News

The ghost rapes of Bolivia: 

Horrifying story of women who were drugged before being tied up and assaulted in own beds... and they can't even remember what happened

In 2009, nine men in a Bolivian Mennonite community were jailed for raping at least 100 women and girls 

The gang used a powerful sedative adapted from a tranquilizer to drug households before carrying out the attacks at Manitoba Colony

Women were not initially believed despite waking to blood-soaked sheets 

Despite the convictions, it has emerged attacks in the colony have continued 

The spate of terrifying night-time rapes in an isolated, orthodox Christian community went on for four years and yet the victims could barely remember the ordeal and many believed they had dreamed it. 

It was not until 2009 that nine men were eventually convicted of the rape of more than 100 women and girls in their own homes in the Mennonite Manitoba Colony in Bolivia.
But despite the convictions, it has emerged that the sexual attacks in the closed community are continuing.

More than 100 women and girls were raped in the Mennonite Manitoba Colony in Bolivia but despite the convictions four years ago residents have admitted that the sexual assaults have continued.

An investigation has uncovered that once more women and youngsters in the Old Colony, where motorised vehicles and electricity are banned, are suffering sexual assaults they can barely remember. has found that many families believe the assaults are continuing despite the men, aged 19 to 43, being jailed. 

But members of the closed community told Vice that without cameras or streetlights - both forbidden in the community - or a police force, they have no way to stop or catch the rapists. 

They say they will have to wait until someone is caught in the act and in the meantime increase security at their homes.

One husband, whose wife was raped in the first spate of attacks, told 'It's definitely not as frequent. [The rapists] are being much more careful than before, but it still goes on.' 

From 2005 to 2009, women complained that they regularly woke up to intense pain and semen and blood on their sheets but their claims were not initially investigated and they were not believed. 

Some even reported waking up to find rope tied to their wrists or ankles or dirty fingerprints on their bodies but the victims could not remember the previous night. 

Many women had hazy memories or images of at least one man on top of them but they were not able to resist.

Residents say they have heard repeated rumours that the night-time rapes have continued but because the closed community does not have a police force the alleged crimes are unlikely to be investigated.

The Manitoba Colony in eastern Bolivia is home to about 3,000 people
The Manitoba Colony in eastern Bolivia is home to about 3,000 people
The eventual trial found that the attackers used a powerful sedative to drug whole families before carrying out the rapes. 

Many women were attacked as they lay next to their husbands, who were also knocked unconscious by the narcotic.

A girl of just three was among the victims and a woman of 60 years old.

A pregnant woman gave birth at just six and a half months after being raped while unconscious.

Young girls were taken to hospital the next morning suffering from terrible pain and bleeding.

The gang of men, who had led some women to believe they were repeatedly attacked by demons, were eventually caught and jailed in 2009. 

Two of the men were found trying to break into a house and their story unraveled. 

Each of the nine-strong gang were jailed for 25 years and a vet who supplied the anaesthetic  - made from a cow tranquilizer - was sentenced to 12 years.

The colony - about 94 miles from Santa Cruz and home to about 3,000 ultraconservative Mennonites - has been deeply scarred by the scandal.

Sara Guenter told Vice that she tried to stay awake and asked a trusted worker to guard the house but the attacks continued when no one was watching her home.

She said: 'It happened so many times, I lost count.'

Some residents initially believed the rape claims were concocted to hide affairs while others believed it was down to 'wild female imagination.' 

Electricity is banned in the Old Colonies and the community lives off the land. Men and women's roles are strictly segregated with men working as farmers and given extra education whereas women only are responsible for cleaning and cooking.

The community has no police force so no one investigated the claims until two men were finally caught trying to break into a neighbour's house. 

Before that there had been no investigation and the authorities were accused of turning a blind eye to the situation. 

Abraham Walls Enns, Manitoba Colony's civic leader told Vice: 'That's all behind us now. We'd rather forget than have it be at the forefront of our minds.

'We only knew that something strange was happening in the night.

'But we didn't know who was doing it, so how could we stop it?'

Offers of help from outside of the colony, including from more liberal Mennonite communities in Canada and elsewhere, were rejected.

Orders for psychological help for victims has also never materialised.

According to: Mail Online News


Old Colony Mennonites do not use motorised vehicles or electricity
Old Colony Mennonites do not use motorised vehicles or electricity

Mennonites are Christians that can be traced from Protestant groups on Europe.

They follow the teachings of 16th Century priest Menno Simons, who gave the group his name.

There are about 1.7million Mennonites in 82 countries, with prominent communities in Canada, the U.S., Ethiopia, India, and parts of south and central America including Bolivia, Mexico and Paraguay.

Almost 400,000 Mennonites live in the U.S. with more than 220,000 living in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The vast majority of Bolivia's Mennonite population are ultraconservative.

Over the centuries, members have been severely persecuted and partially due to their pacifism Mennonites fled to other lands where they were tolerated.

In the Old Colonies, motorised vehicles, electricity, dance and sport are all banned.

Old Order Mennonites tend to use horse and buggies for transportation and speak in a German dialect.





Friday, July 25, 2014

Anna's Chicken Tamales

Anna's Chicken Tamales


30 dried corn husks
1 chicken 
3 quarts water
2 teaspoons salt


4 cups masa harina (corn flour MASECA)
3 cups of chicken broth and the rest water as you need to make the dough a past like consistency 

Red pepper sauce:

4 dried red chile Anchos or your favorite kind
1 onion
3 whole garlic cloves
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of salt, more to taste
1 teaspoon of texmex seasoning

Sometimes i can't get the dried red peppers:

Then i just add a to the chickeninstead of the red pepper sauce
A cup of the chicken broth 
Five tablespoons of sweet chili powder
A pinch of hot chili powder
Three tablespoons of garlic powder 
Five tablespoons of texmex seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste


In a steamer, cover the chicken with water, salt then bring to a boil. Reduce heat, steam for 10 minutes or until meat is tender, or just boil the chicken in a regular pot. Remove chicken from broth, set aside until cool enough to handle. Strain broth skim fat, remove and toss the skin and shred chicken off the bone.

Add the chile anchosonion and garlic to a small saucepan add enough water so that they are just covered. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes, until the chilies have softened and plumped up.

Reserving the soaking water, remove the chilies onion and garlic from the pan and place in a blender. Add the salt, pepper and teaspoon of texmex seasoning.1 1/2 cups of the soaking liquid.

Purée for 2 minutes, until the sauce is completely smooth, taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning. If you want more heat, add a bit of paprika or cayenne pepper and purée some more.

Mix shredded cooked chicken with red pepper Purée.

Place corn husks in a large bowl and cover with hot water.

For dough, in a large bowl, mix 3 cups reserved chicken broth and water with masa harina mix until well blended.

Drain corn husks. Place a corn husk on a work surface, make a small ball out of the dough and press flat with a tortilla press or baking dish, lay the tortilla shaped dough into the husk, add a spoon or tow of the meat mixture and fold it.

In a steamer basket, position tamales upright.  Place basket over 2-3 inches of water. Bring to a boil, cover and steam for 15-20 minutes or until dough peels away from husk, if the pot boils dry add additional hot water to pat as needed. 

They freeze well before you steam them, but when you steam them from frozen you just have to stem them ten minutes longer. 

They also freeze well after you steam them, i keep a sip lock beg of steamed ones in the freezer to take to work for lunch.  They worm up nice in the microwave oven still inside the husk.  

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mennonites Don’t Cry

Continued from Tattoo-woman & Menno-girl

I just couldn’t go back to sleep. It was 4:00 a.m. so I decided to get up and have some instant coffee. Before I got laid off, if I wasn’t busy working, I would go to the mall and walk around for hours and fantasize about which outfit I would buy once I had saved enough money.

That morning, for the first time, I realized how quiet it was. As I was sitting there drinking my coffee, I realized how much I missed my family that I left behind in Mexico. It was always so loud in the house back home. I felt really guilty for leaving my mom and, especially, my little brothers. 

I wondered who was doing all my chores or if mom had to do everything by herself. I felt so bad for always telling my little brothers to go away when I was cleaning the house or making tweeback (buns). I wished I would have been nicer to them.

I looked through the window of my apartment that didn’t even have curtains yet. It was starting to get light out as the sun was rising. I decided to just get ready to go to this group Bree had told me to go to. I was afraid of what would happen if I didn’t go and I ran into her at the coffee shop again. I pictured in my mind what would happen.

She would say, “How was the job finding club?” 

“Ahhh, I didn’t go,” I answered.

And what I imagined happening next was NOT pretty, so, no matter what, I was going. I brushed my teeth, got dressed, and put my long brown hair that had been in braids or a bun my whole life into a ponytail. I put on my white socks and sandals. It was cold that morning and I had to walk all the way uptown. I thought I would just take the socks off later when it warmed up. I figured that’s what anyone would do in my situation.
When I got there I had the scary butterfly feeling in my stomach. I was so nervous. It was at a local library and hardly any people were there yet since it was still really early.  

I walked around the building and there were two guys and a woman standing behind the building smoking. When they saw me, they couldn’t stop staring at my socks and sandals. That made me even more nervous.

I wanted to turn around and go back to my apartment but then I remembered Bree and walked right up to these people and asked, “The job finding club?” 

They looked at each other with a strange grin on their faces and one of the guys said, “Yup, it’s here, downstairs, but the door is still locked.” 

It didn’t open until nine and it was only eight.

I sat down on the steps because I was so tired from the long walk. About half an hour later, all kinds of people were showing up with books and backpacks. Some of them were beautifully dressed and smiling. They looked like they were so happy and knew exactly where they were going and what they were doing. 

I was so aufjenstijch (jealous) of them. I wanted that, all of it! Knowing where I was going and what I was doing, the earrings and the open toe shoes some of the women were wearing with the polished toenails peeking through – and, of course, no socks! One of these beautifully dressed women went down the steps to open the door to where I was going. I followed her.

After she opened the door she turned around and asked, “Are you here for the job finding club?” 

I said, “Yes.” 

She smiled, shook my hand, and said, “My name is Kim and I will be running this group today. You’re the first one here so you get to pick where you want to sit.”

I thought, ¨this is awesome¨ she was super nice so whatever was coming next, at least, she would be the one helping me. It didn’t take long for the room to be filled with people: men and women of all kinds of backgrounds and some of them spoke less English than I did. One man had a family member with him to translate. I didn’t have one of those so I had no choice but to figure this out myself.

As I was looking around, a man with curly salt and pepper hair, dressed in a white t-shirt, jeans, and running shoes, came in. He looked normal to me but what did I know about people and what was normal? Where I came from, everybody looks the same. 

He came and sat down beside me. I thought, “Oh, crap!” I was hoping women would sit next to me. I wasn’t used to men and women sitting all mixed up together. Back home in the colonies men and women were always separated. 

It was making me more nervous but, before I could have another thought, Kim said, “Welcome to the job finding club. We will start by going around and introducing ourselves and I will pass this paper around. I want you all to write down your name and phone number. At the end of the day, I will give you all a copy of it.”

Everybody said their name. The man next to me was Mark. 

Kim said, “I expect you all to help each other out with finding work. After we leave here today, if you hear of a place that is hiring, call each other and let everyone know.” 

Everyone said "okay."

“Today we are going to focus on resume writing, let’s start by writing down your work skills,” Kim said. 

Everybody started writing, except me. I wondered, skills? What does that even mean? 

Kim saw me looking all confused and came right over to help. I asked her what skills meant and she explained it to me. She was going to get up and leave, but I asked her how to spell sewing? I could feel her thinking, “Oh crap, this is going to be a long day!”

Kim asked where I was from and how I ended up there.  I explained the shortest version of my story to her to the best of my ability. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Her face looked so puzzled and then she said, “You are Mexican and you speak Low German? I think this is not the place for you. You should be in school, not looking for a job.”

“Ahhh, I can’t! I just got an apartment and I am on welfare and that doesn’t even pay my rent. I really need to find a job.”  I replied.

“I’m really sorry to tell you this but it will be nearly impossible to find you a job. Your English is not good. You don’t know what skills mean and you can’t spell sewing, Anna, this is tough” Kim said.

During that whole day, Kim couldn’t help anyone else because she had to spell everything for me.

Mark, sitting next to me, heard everything. He tried to help but he had his own stuff to write down. I got a nasty headache from all the frustrations, not eating, and not sleeping the night before.  At the end of the day, Kim said, “You can come back tomorrow and maybe we can figure something out.”

I never had time to take off my socks like I had planned and just walked home in them. The weather didn’t even phase me anymore. I just cried my face off the whole way walking back to my apartment. 

I thought there was an upside to that. At least, I could cry as much and as long as I wanted to. No one was telling me not to cry. In the colonies back home people would keep, crying a big secret. You would never see anyone cry like I did that day. You just had to sweep whatever problem you had, no matter how big it was, under the fluadakj (rug), and carry on.

If anyone was ever seen crying, they were told, "schäm de (shame on you) and stop it!" 

I think it was understood that, if you didn’t cry and acted as if nothing was wrong, then the problem didn’t exist. I wondered what I had gotten myself into. I was going to need a big rug because I wanted to sweep myself under it

I knew that it was just my beginning and how big and real my problems were. I wanted to do the work to figure it out. I never expected it to be easy or wanted someone to do it for me; I just needed a lot of guidance. 

I was exhausted when I finally got home. I didn’t even eat, I just went to sleep. I think that was the first night I didn’t have nightmares and I slept through the whole night. Click here to continue reading my story.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Tattoo-woman & Menno-girl

Continued from Feeling LOW German

My last two weeks at work went by really fast.  I met Bree, who would occasionally go out for lunch with George, a.k.a. the tattoo man. She also had lots of tattoos and a nose ring.  She was really beautiful with very short black hair and she always dressed in black.  She didn’t sit with us.

She had her own group to sit with and they always played cards during break time.  She had a really serious face and she never smiled. But, then again, most people didn’t smile. It was like they were in pain all day but, as soon as the end of the shift bell rang, everybody suddenly got happy.

I was sad when the bell rang because I didn’t have any friends.  Felicity, the woman who called me a shmuck felt a bit sorry for me and that was why she invited me to sit with George and her. It was really awkward because, every time George said the F word, I turned red like a tomato and didn’t know where to turn my face. 

For the most part, I enjoyed observing everyone. Every person in the room was so different from what I was used to, in the way they dressed and interacted with each other.  I really admired the way some of them didn’t care what others thought of them.

One day I was in the bathroom at work when Bree came in. She had never said anything to me before.  She looked at me and said, “You are friends with George, right?”

“Ahhh, I sit at his table at lunch,” I answered.

“You want to see what I got yesterday?” She asked and before I could say anything, she lifted her t-shirt and showed me that she had gotten her nipples pierced.  Again, my face turned red like a tomato and felt like it was about to burst into flames. 

I said, “Oookaaay,” and left the bathroom as fast as I could.  I heard her laughing after the door closed behind me. She knew that it would embarrass the heck out of me and she loved it.

The next day, I had to show Bree how to do my job. She had never sewn a thing in her life and she was going to do my job after I left.  I turned the sewing machine on and off, took a seat cover and sewed it, and then looked at her and said, “Okay?” I did not have enough English words to describe my job to her.

She was really frustrated. She rolled her eyes and left. I was thinking, “Yup, I feel your pain” Not the pain she was probably having from the piercings, though. The situation was very frustrating but it wasn’t just that.  I felt like she had some problem with me. So, our supervisor decided to teach her how to do my job.

About a month later, I ran into her at a coffee shop. She looked at me, and I thought I had to say something to her and the words just flowed out of my mouth, “How is work?” I asked.

She rolled her eyes and said, “Seriously, you are asking me how it is to work in a factory, sitting at a sewing machine in one spot for eight f#cking hours a day, day after day? Ahhh, somebody please kill me now!” 

“Ahhh, yes?” I answered and explained to her that it was better than being stuck like I was. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t even pay for a coffee and I hadn’t talked to a person in a month. Now that was killing me, and I wished many times that it just would.  When she heard me say that, her face lit up and she smiled at me for the first time.

She said, “Anna, would you let me buy you a coffee? If you have time right now, we can sit and chat for a bit.” I almost blew up with excitement.

If I had the time? “Ahhh, okay.” I was floored.  Time? That was all I had. I hid my excitement from her because I was afraid she would roll her eyes at me and leave again, but she didn’t.  We sat and chatted for a while about George and that they used to “sort of date.”

I thought  “Waut de schissjat! (What the heck)!” does “sort of dating” mean?  I knew what dating meant and thought, "Is this why she has had such a bad attitude toward me about sitting at George’s table?" 

I just sat there and smiled. Finally, someone wanted to talk to me and she bought me a coffee. I was thrilled.

I thought because she was so beautiful she must have many options to choose who she wanted to date and marry. Not the other way around, like it was for us Mennonite girls in Mexico.  

She suddenly changed the subject, I got the feeling that she didn’t want to talk about George anymore. We talked about how miserable we both were, how we both felt that we would be better off dead.

Tattoos for women on shoulder quote
She felt that it was okay for her to think that way but she told me that I was too young to die and that I should join this group that offered help with writing resumes, practicing interviews, and searching for jobs. She explained to me where it was and told me to go there first thing in the morning the next day.

I brought home a newspaper from the coffee shop and tried to read it but I just ended up getting so frustrated and ripped it to pieces and went to sleep. Since I was going to this group early the next morning, I thought I needed a good night’s sleep but I just had nightmares about a newspaper story that read: TATOO-WOMAN AND MENNO-GIRL JUMP OFF THE BRIDGE.

It was so strange. I was dead but I could hear and see everything people were saying and doing.  This was all happening in Mexico, in my colony, and everyone around us was asking what I was doing with a woman like that.

They were saying that they knew something bad was going to happen to Anna. Her parents should have never let her go to Canada. She was lost and now she has ended up just like her grandfather. Click here to continue reading my story.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Mennonites in Mexico looking for new home again?

A community that left Manitoba a century ago is eyeing Russia

 Credits go to David Agren macleans

Peter Friesen talks as if he’s seen the promised land. A Mennonite farmer and father of 13 in Mexico’s northern Chihuahua state, his blue eyes brighten as he paints a picture of a place with pleasant people, raging rivers and vast tracts of virgin land ideal for agriculture. “We saw really good land with lots of water,” Friesen recalled, while seated in the booth of a Mennonite pizzeria that sells pies smothered with the prized local product, a tangy cheese known as queso menonita.

Friesen isn’t talking about paradise. He’s talking about Russia, where his Mennonite ancestors once worked the land before departing for the Canadian Prairies and then the high plains of northern Mexico. Friesen and 10 Mennonites recently travelled to Russia to explore a possible relocation from Chihuahua to the prairie of Tatarstan—900 km east of Moscow and similar to Manitoba with its cold winters, hot summers and flat prairie. The possible relocation is not a nostalgic return to his roots, but rather a resolution for the most pressing problems Mexican Mennonites face: shortages of land and water. “We could cultivate 10 times more than we have here,” says Enrique Voth Penner, who also went to Russia.

For the Mexican Mennonites, an estimated 50,000 of whom are eligible for Canadian passports, land is scarce—a problem for a people with large broods and a fondness for farming. Previous generations of Mennonites pushed into the Chihuahua desert from their original settlements (including the aptly named Colonia Manitoba), drilling wells as they went. But times have changed. What land remains lacks adequate water to coax crops such as corn and wheat from the region’s sandy soils. Wells now are being drilled to depths of more than 500 m and the National Water Commission has stopped issuing permits. Making matters worse, Mexico just experienced its worst drought in 71 years. Water problems “have given people a push, given them a reason to migrate,” Voth says.

The Mennonites now find themselves embroiled in an escalating water war, in which they’ve landed on the wrong side of public opinion and, in some cases, allegedly participated in acts of corruption—namely paying bribes for permits and drilling wells without permission. The competition for water is fierce—so fierce that stories have surfaced linking some Mennonites to organized crime, without offering proof. In October, the leader of a farm group crusading against illegal wells turned up dead. “There are people who are envious,” says Mennonite tour guide Abraham Peters. “It’s time that we explore other options.”

In Russia, Voth found plenty to like: land, water, low taxes and offers of credit. Voth figures 100 families would go, but says the Mennonites, who are pacificsts, still need a guaranteed exemption from military service.

A move would only be the latest for a wandering people; some 6,000 Mennonites relocated to Mexico in the 1920s to escape rules in Manitoba mandating English-only education. The Mexican government promised the Mennonites the right to run religious schools—in complete violation of the country’s constitution, which mandates secular education—and an ability to avoid obligatory military service. The Mexican government has kept its end of the bargain, the Mennonites say, although many from traditional colonies, who still use horses and buggies, moved to Bolivia in 1967 after electricity came to Mexico. Others left during the worst of the drug war, which hit Chihuahua and Durango states especially hard. “There are always people that don’t think they can make it here and leave,” says septuagenarian farmer Guillermo Thiessen.

The community has prospered, as the Mennonites brought agriculture to inhospitable parts of Mexico, and developed a commercial corridor in Colonia Manitoba that attracts buyers from across the country in search of farm and irrigation equipment. Still, they stayed somewhat separate from the broader Mexican society. The Mennonites still speak Low German, attend their own schools—and are best known for queso menonita and the blond vendors in plaid shirts and coveralls who sell it at intersections.

Thiessen says he feels both Mexican and Mennonite and has grandchildren who married Mexicans. He inadvertently shows many Mexican traits, such as saying, “Gracias a Díos,” (thanks to God) when asked how he’s doing, professing a preference for spicy food and going abroad for short-term employment excursions. He recently made $3,000 picking potatoes in Winkler, Man. But Thiessen says he’s too old to relocate to Russia. Friesen is also more interested in Russia for his children than for himself, but he expects a warm welcome, should they ever arrive. “The officials told us in the first meeting, ‘Welcome home.’ ”

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...