Patricia García remembers her daughter, Frida Santamaría, who was killed in 2022.
Cómo quieres que recuerdan a su hija? How do you want people to remember your daughter?
Patricia García, mother of Frida Santamaría, lets out a breath, bringing a tissue to wipe her nose and the tears that’ve begun to dry on her face.
“Oh, wow,” she says, surprised at the question I asked.
Frida brought joy and light to her family, García says. She had a spark that illuminated the lives of all she interacted with. One could never tell if Frida was having a hard time because she always had a smile on her face, making the happiness of others a priority over her own.
Whoever knew her and had a chance to spend time with her was lucky because they won’t find anyone else just like her, García remembers.
“The only thing she wanted was to be happy and make those around her happy,” García says. “What else can I tell you? She was an impressive woman.”
Frida embodied a hard working attitude and did everything with grace. And always with a bright smile on her face. She worked alongside her father organizing events, ranging from baptisms to birthday parties, but organizing parties wasn’t her dream job. She wanted to be a physical therapist; in fact, she was getting ready to start her master’s program before her life was cut short. She wanted to help children and the elderly.
Her murder came as a surprise to her family, especially García. Frida had just celebrated her 24th birthday a week prior, and they planned a big party to mark the occasion. Frida’s father, Eduardo, whose birthday was a few days before hers, traveled from the United States to Sahuayo, Michoacán—where Frida and her mother resided. Frida had always enjoyed celebrating their birthdays together.
Even though my conversation with García was conducted via video call on WhatsApp, the trauma and sadness that she felt—and still feels—could be felt through the screen of my phone.
All I could do at the moment was allow her to share her daughter’s story and be patient as she teared up during our conversation. What I wanted to do was give her a hug and comfort her, but I couldn’t. That’s what I would’ve done if we’d met in person.
Often in femicide cases, there’s chatter about the victim—questioning their character to the extent of blaming them for what has happened to them. And a small community, such as the one Frida grew up in, was filled with that type of noise. This is common with femicide cases, and especially in a patriarchal society like Mexico’s, it’s the first thing people tend to do.
These young women shouldn’t be regarded in this way, let alone as another statistic, but rather as the people they truly were.
Frida brought happiness to everyone, and people should remember her that way. Her loyalty to friends and her selflessness are what people should remember, not the rumors spread by those who never truly knew her.
Frida’s case is still being processed in the state of Michoacán. In January 2023, a court decision reversed the femicide charge to homicidio culposo (culpable homicide)—her death was classified as an accident—and her murderer was released from jail. But in late September, her case was reclassified as a femicide after her family appealed to the Michoacán Supreme Court. The next court date hasn’t been set as her murderer has not been rearrested. While this might not bring Frida back, García hopes that justice will be served.