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Program 0211
March 12, 2002

This text has been professionally transcribed. However, for timely distribution, it has not been edited or proofread against the tape.

PATRICK ABT: You have to have a big
wallet to carry all that coins.

KEITH PORTER: This week on Common Ground, the Euro in Europe’s
pocket. Plus, searching for serial killers in Mexico


Unfortunately it has caused the deaths of over 80 young women that have been
killed. And nobody is paying attention.

Common Ground is a program on world
affairs and the people who shape events. It’s produced by the Stanley
Foundation. I’m Kristin McHugh.

PORTER: And I’m Keith Porter.
Twelve European countries are adjusting to a new currency. The countries began
using the Euro in January and European economists and politicians say the
transition is a success.

MCHUGH: But the changeover has some
sticking points. Common Ground’s
Karen Engel reports on how the new currency is effecting people’s daily lives.

[sound of a train]

KAREN ENGEL: It’s an early Sunday
morning in January at the train station in Graz in southern Austria and I’m
waiting for a taxi. I’ve just returned to Austria from one of the few European
countries that is keeping its own currency—Switzerland. When I left Austria the
only legal currency was the shilling. One week later I come back to a Euro
land. Now for the next two months you can pay in either currency. But your
change will come back in Euros only.

[a conversation in German between a taxi driver at
the train station and Karen Engel].

ENGEL: As I tell the taxi driver
my address, I ask her how she’s been adjusting to the new currency.

Euro is for me good. I have no problems with the Euro. A little bit with, with,
one Euro is 13 shillings and 76 groschen. This is a little bit hard to, how to
say, berechnen….

ENGEL: Yeah, to calculate the…


Yes, yes, yes. However, I have the list. One shilling is, two shilling is how
much Euro.

ENGEL: What happens if someone
gives you shillings and then you have to, you have to give them the money back
in Euro, right?


Yeah, it happens. Zum beispiel. He gives me 100 shillings and he paid 70.
Seventy shillings. And I gave him 30 shillings. Then I look off my list. Thirty
shillings is two Euro, 18 cents. And I give them two Euro, 18 cents. Not
complicated. First day a little bit, but then go, no problem.

[The taxi driver then speaks in German to Engel as
she gives Engel change after Engel pays the fare.]

Euro and zwei and neunzig cents (11 Euro and 92 cents]

ENGEL: My fare is 164
shillings—Or, 11 Euros and 92 cents. Considering that a Euro is about 90 cents
it’s pretty easy to calculate in dollars. Just take 10 cents off for every
Euro, making my taxi bill around ten dollars and some 80-odd cents. Or, double
the Euro amount to get the price in Deutsche mark. But converting into
shillings is complicated. The official rate is 13.7603 shillings to one Euro.
Some have found a shortcut, so to speak.

CAROLYN GRAF: [via a translator] We’ve
got a system. First you convert the Euro to Deutsche mark and then you convert
it to shillings. So if you have 55 cents you times two to get one Euro and ten
cents and then times that by seven to get around eight shillings.

ENGEL: Carolyn Graff often
baby-sits my kids. If you think her system sounds complicated—well, others do,
too. John Adler is a business manager.

JOHN ADLER: There’s this trick: times
two, times seven. But try this with, for example, 15.78 Euro. I mean, this,
you, you could not. So actually I’ve come up with a little calculator for my
pocket where I’ve printed out in an Excel sheet what the figures are. It’s
about four inches long and with one glance I know what, what the other figure

ENGEL: Oh, you can hardly read
this, though!

ADLER: Well, yes it’s—if, if your
eyes are okay you can read it.

ENGEL: So it’s this little slip of
paper and some cellophane and you’ve got here…

ADLER: Yeah. Euros on this side.
That’s Euros.

ENGEL: So point—okay—one…

ADLER: That’s 10 cents.

ENGEL: Ten cents is 1.4 shillings?

ADLER: That’s it.

ENGEL: Oh, I get it.

ADLER: And so, whenever I see a
price—for example, you have five Euros—I just go down here and I have my five
Euros here and that’s 68 shillings.

ENGEL: Should I show you what I

ADLER: Yeah.

ENGEL: [laughs] Let’s see here.
[sound of a bag unzipping, followed by a metallic clinking sound] Okay, I’ve
got this key chain and it’s got this little thing.

ADLER: Yeah, that’s pretty good,
too. Yeah, yeah. It’s the same thing.

ENGEL: It’s the same thing. You
can look at Euros on one side.

ADLER: Yeah, yeah.

ENGEL: And then you let it… [sound
of something that sounds like a tape measure snapping back into its case]… roll
back down into the key chain.

PATRICK ABT: I bought my grandma a

ENGEL: Patrick ABT is our
next-door neighbor. Nineteen years-old and a student, Patrick told me last
December that he wasn’t looking forward to a new currency.

APT: It will be horrible.
Because nobody will know how much a Euro cent is and how much a hundred Euros
are. And will be very confusing for everybody.

ENGEL: Life with the shilling was
easy. There was a one, five, and 10 shilling coin. Bills started at 20
shillings. And a 10 groschen coin—1/10 of a shilling—was rare and worthless and
mainly used to round off the usual 10/90 sales. Austrians are not used to the
plethora of new coins and units that have come with the Euro. One cent, two
cents, five cents, 10, 20 cents, and 50 cents. Plus, one and two Euro coins.

PATRIC ABT: You have to have a big
wallet to carry all that coins. Really a sack in the middle age.

[sound of rattling coins]

ENGEL: Indeed, two weeks before
the Euro became official, Europe’s national banks started issuing out so-called
“starter packets.” In Austria they consisted of plastic sacks of about $15
worth of Euro coins. Which everybody started spending at once when stores
opened January 2. There were so many coins around the first week of January
that businesses complained they didn’t have enough room for all the change in
their cash registers.

[sound of people at a busy market]

ENGEL: An early morning in
mid-January at the farmer’s market in my neighborhood in Graz. Since customers
can pay with either shillings or Euro, the farmers who come every week to sell
their products in town have to carry two cash registers plus a calculator.

[sound of a farmer talking in German]

ENGEL: [summarizing what the
farmer said] “It’s complicated,” says this farmer, while I buy some carrots and
celery. “Especially the first two days. But since last week, he says, the
shilling has practically disappeared.”

[sound of a farmer talking in German]

ENGEL: Although business in
general has adapted quickly to the Euro, many Austrians are sad to see the
shilling, a symbol of national identity, disappear.

[A woman sings in German]

ENGEL: Musicologist Monika Mogel
is a specialist in Styrian?? folk songs. She has only grudgingly accepted the

MONIKA MOGEL: [via a translator] I’m
actually very sorry to see the shilling go. I was not for the EU, but it’s been
voted on and since the majority voted “yes” we will have to go along with it.

like the shilling and I also like the tradition of the money. For example, if I
travel to another country I like get to know another kind of money.

ENGEL: Elisabeht Kunish studies
biopsychology at the university in Graz.

KOONISH: Every country loses a
little bit of its tradition I think, with the money. And I think this is sad.

ENGEL: Others are not so
nostalgic. Gernot Kasebacher studies computer technology at the Graz Technical


I think we are all European people and to be open minded we should think
European and not just in one little land.

[a group of people talking]

ENGEL: Except for me and the
teacher everyone at this table is Austrian. But we’re all speaking French as
part of our weekly conversation class. And today we got our first look at the
French Euro. All the Euro coins have the same face, but the backs differ from
country to country. The French Euro at the moment is truly more exciting than a
French franc. One mathematician already figured out that business travel and
tourism will distribute Europe’s Euros evenly according to population
percentages. So eventually a typical fistful of Euros in Graz will include a
few coins from, say, Spain and Italy—and Austria, of course—and lots from
Germany and France. While cents from Finland will always be a rare find. But at
the moment my French teacher, Emmanuelle Caignol, just back from a trip home,
says the currency switch is going smoother in Austria.


[via a translator] In France it’s more of a pain because if you pay in francs
you get your change in francs. The lines are very long. I find it easier in
Austria, because even though the stores accept shillings they give you change
in Euros.

…the one, the two, the five, the 50…

ENGEL: It’s the weekly book club
meeting and a group of us from all different nationalities have gotten off
topic. Instead of discussing the monthly English reading selection we’re
talking about the Euro.

We put in an insurance claim for broken glass for
1,303 shillings. Today the postman came. He talks a little and Philip comes to
me and says, “The postman wants some money.” He, he signed and he came running
to me and he needs money. I said, “Well, I haven’t got money.” “He wants 1,303
Euros, he says.” [the people laugh] He’s at the door.” He pays me Euros! 1,303!
Instead of 1,303 shillings…

Only the Austrian coins have the value of the coin
on the back side. No other country has that.

But that did happen to everybody that had pocket
money for the kids….

[everybody talking and laughing at once]

What are you going to do tomorrow with the cleaning

[everybody talking and laughing at once]

[children singing a German-language counting song in

ENGEL: My daughter’s third grade
class learned to count and to add and subtract shillings and groschen two years
ago. But now with the Euro her class is learning to count change all over
again. Especially if it affects their allowance. Daniele Kirchmayer is the
third grade teacher.


We trained with playing games and play money. And so I think it wasn’t very
difficult for them.

ENGEL: One thing they noticed
right away, says this girl.

[A third-grade girl speaks in German]

ENGEL: Everything has gotten more
expensive. For example:

[A third-grade girl speaks in German]

ENGEL: The child found the bus
used to be 10 shillings, or 73 cents. And now it’s 75 cents.

[A third-grade boy speaks in German]

ENGEL: “It’s a scandal that
chewing gum in the gum ball machines now costs 20 cents,” he says.

[A third-grade boy speaks in German]

ENGEL: “Europe is copying America
a little with the Euro,” says this boy. And another says that many more people
pay with credit cards.

[A third-grade boy speaks in German]


The children answered right. You have to pay with card. Because it isn’t
possible to have such a big purse to put all the coins in it. All of us pay
with cards.

[sounds of a checkout scanner beeping as items are
being purchased at a store]

ENGEL: Like lots of other people
I’m also paying for my groceries with an ATM card. Soon the shilling will
disappear entirely. But most people still don’t have a feeling for the Euro.

ADLER: Even at this point I would
not say that I am adjusted to it. I still keep calculating what would this be
in shillings.

ENGEL: John Adler.

ADLER: When I go to the bank I
said, “Could you please put”—I was very funny—”Could you please put 15,000 on
my other account?” And the clerk looked at me and said, “Fifteen thousand? Are
you sure? Euros?” And I said, “Ah! Sorry! No. Shillings.” And so I still think
shillings, really.

ENGEL:. For Common Ground, this is Karen Engel in Graz.

[sounds of a checkout scanner beeping as items are
being purchased at a store]

PORTER: Hunting down serial killers
along the US-Mexican border, next on Common

VICKI CARAVEO: We are up to our necks of
blood. We, we can’t—we can’t take any more of this. And we’re asking the
support of all the international community to, to see us, to help us, to make
the governor understand that we are not a political issue.

PORTER: Imagine a city where radio
and television commercials warn women that they could be the next victims of a
serial killer. Or a city where more than 300 women have been murdered and
perhaps more than 200 disappeared in less than 10 years. The scenario isn’t the
imagination of Hollywood film producers. It’s reality for Ciudad Juarez,

MCHUGH: The ongoing Juarez drama of
sex-related violence is exploding into a major human rights crisis for the
Mexican government. And as Common Ground’s
Kent Patterson reports, women’s rights activists appear to be the latest
targets in this city that borders El Paso, Texas.

[sound of vehicle traffic]


Traffic passes by a lot and cotton field where the bodies of eight young women
were discovered. Reportedly bearing signs of sexual assault, they are among the
latest reported victims of the serial killings that have terrorized Juarez for
almost a decade. Some victims worked in the mainly US-owned export plants
called maquiladoras, leading some
critics to charge the maquiladoras
aren’t doing their share to protect women workers who live in dangerous
neighborhoods. And strangely enough, this clandestine cemetery was located
across the street from the headquarters of the maquiladora industry trade association. Many here wonder how is it
possible that bodies—some supposedly dumped months and months ago and barely
concealed—remained in the same public place without earlier being found.

[a man speaks in Spanish]

PATTERSON: The grim finds came only
days before an international forum against gender violence in Juarez. Sponsored
by Mexican and US unions, and other nongovernmental organizations, the goal was
to pressure authorities into halting the mass killings and bringing those
responsible to justice. Linda Chavez Thompson is Executive Vice President of
the AFL-CIO.


We want these companies in America to know that the companies they run in this
city and in other maquiladoras all
across Mexico are not taking care of protecting their workers. And in this
particular case, unfortunately it has caused the deaths of over 80 young women
that have been killed. And nobody is paying attention. So the focus here is to
put a coalition together, to talk not just about the issues of the workers in
the maquiladoras, but also what is
happening with the government here, and to work with nongovernmental agencies
here in putting enough pressure to make sure that that protection is afforded
to the women workers in Mexico and especially in the maquiladoras.

[a woman speaks in Spanish]

PATTERSON: Although some companies
have announced security measures for their employees or posted rewards to help
find the killers, the murders have continued. Independent researchers say that
since 1993 more than 300 women in Juarez have been murdered. While perhaps a
majority have succumbed to rampant domestic violence, scores of others have
died at the hands of a suspected serial killer or killers. The overall toll is
twice the number of people killed during the 1994 Chiapas uprising. Vicki
Caraveo, coordinates the nongovernmental group of women’s rights organizations
in Ciudad Juarez.

VICKI CARAVEO: We are up to our necks of
blood. We, we can’t—we can’t take any more of this. And we’re asking the
support of all the international community to, to see us, to help us, to make
the governor understand that we are not a political issue. We’re human being!
Those are girls who laugh, dance, eat, study, and work!

[sounds of a street demonstration]

PATTERSON: Increasingly the killings
are mobilizing protesters across borders. Like this group from the Southwest
Network for Environmental and Economic Justice that demonstrated outside the
Mexican consulate in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

[sounds of a street demonstration]

PATTERSON: Besides the protests,
investigative commissions from the Mexican Congress have come and gone.
Representatives of the United Nations have filed reports. And Mexican governors
and presidents have promised to get to the bottom of murders.

[sounds of a street demonstration]

[Suly Ponce speaks in Spanish]

PATTERSON: Suly Ponce coordinates
state law enforcement investigations in Ciudad Juarez. In an interview last
year, while Ponce was serving as special prosecutor for women’s homicides,
Ponce defended the controversial theory that an Egyptian national and suspected
serial killer, Abdel Sharif Sharif, who had been in prison since 1995, was
paying assassins from his prison cell to carry out additional sexual killings
in order to make him appear innocent.

[Suly Ponce speaks in Spanish]

PATTERSON: Ponce says that with Sharif
and several of his alleged associates in jail, the main perpetrators of the
serial crimes were off the streets. But only days after this interview Lilia
Garcia, a 17-year-old mother of two, was kidnapped, raped, tortured, and
murdered. Months later the bodies of the eight other young women were found in
the middle of Juarez.

[sounds of a street demonstration]

PATTERSON: Two days after the
discovery of the eight bodies, Chihuahua state police arrested a pair of bus
drivers and charged the men with these crimes. But family members of the men
say they are innocent and were tortured into confessing. A lawyer for one of
the defendants, Mario Escobedo, then reported to associates that he was being
threatened. In February of this year Escobedo was killed during an automobile
chase with Chihuahua state police—the same department accused of torturing his

[a man speaks in Spanish]

PATTERSON: Some Juarez citizens charge
that Escobedo was executed to prevent the truth from coming out. At a protest
inside the offices of the State Attorney General’s office in Juarez,
demonstrators like Ramon Aguilar, of the PAN political party, demand justice
for Mario Escovedo.

RAMON AGUILAR: Who has been badly murdered
by same state police here in Juarez? And we are protesting because people here
in our state need complete justice and all the cases to be cleared up and have
all the guilty in jail.

PATTERSON: In a statement, the
Chihuahua State Attorney General’s office said that Escobedo died in a gun
battle with police. But this position contradicts claims by Escovedo’s father,
who says that he was talking to his terrified son on a cell phone during the
chase and heard the crash. So far there is no explanation of how Escobedo could
have been talking on a cell phone, driving, and shooting a pistol all at the
same time.

The community clamors for justice, for something to be done. And then
there seem to be reprisals.

PATTERSON: Diana Washington Valdes is
a newspaper columnist from neighboring El Paso, Texas. Valdes is the author of
a forthcoming book about the Juarez murders. She recounts the wave of death
threats, intimidations, and sackings of journalists that are jolting Juarez.


Some of the human rights groups and advocacy groups that represent women’s
issues have been receiving threats. Vicki Caraveo, the founder of Mujeres for
Juarez, has found dead animals in her yard. She has a very high fence around
her house. Some one deliberately throwing them into her yard. The three
announcers you mentioned were forced off the air because sources of funding
that they used to rely on to put on a three-hour newscast and program, dried up
under—according to even their general manager of the radio station, Radio
Canon—he told me that, he realized they were under terrific pressure after the
candlelight vigil they helped organize in November, which attracted about
25,000 people. An enormous crowd. People who are upset and have had enough of
the violence in Juarez.

[sounds of a street demonstration]

PATTERSON: Invited by nongovernmental
groups, a representative of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, arrived
in Juarez last month to hear testimonies about human rights violations. During
the Commission’s visit, the Governor of Chihuahua announced that he would
welcome the intervention of foreign police like the FBI to help clear up the
women’s murders. The declaration reverses an earlier stance. Diana Washington


Yes, in 1999 FBI profilers from the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, came to
Juarez. This was the result of a request to President Clinton by then President
Ernesto Zedillo. Again, in response to the clamor for something to be done. The
profilers made two visits to Juarez. On their second visit they presented some
preliminary findings. The Chihuahua authorities, according to the FBI did not
accept those findings. It was an implicit message because it did not fit with
their theory of Sharif being the mastermind of serial murders in Juarez. And
the FBI said they needed to come back. They need to make another trip back to
Juarez to form up their conclusions. And they also offered technical
assistance, training assistance, assistance of every kind. They offered the use
of their world class labs, DNA testing, and so forth. The Chihuahua authorities
did not accept any of that assistance. And furthermore, they rejected their

[a woman speaks in Spanish]

PATTERSON: Months after last
November’s macabre discovery in the Juarez field, several mothers of the
reported murder victims contend that numerous irregularities surround the
investigations. This mother of one of the reported victims says she has not
been allowed to view the corpse and its initial photos, or take body samples
for independent DNA testing.

[a person speaks over a public address system]

PATTERSON: At the same time, dozens of
women remain missing in Juarez, including several immigrants from Central
America. Recently a caravan of women’s and human rights activists from
California traveled to Juarez to show their support for victims’ families.
Lorena Mendez directs the California-based group, Justice for the Women of
Juarez. Accompanying her on this trip were artists and poets, like Jackie

LORENA MENDEZ: Again, who’s doing the
searches. Who’s looking for the bodies? It’s certainly not the authorities.
Look at every single body over the last five years. Who has found most of the
remains? Has it been the authorities? No, it hasn’t. It has been the child playing
ball, kids hanging out; it’s been el campesino.
What’s going on here? Only, only in a place like this would you hear of
something like this happening. Now we understand in Chiapas, obviously there
it’s a human violations…. problem. But the situation happening in here, in
Juarez is, is devastating in my opinion.

JACKIE JOYCE: [speaks first in Spanish,
then in English] Smudged red lipstick remains on the hands of two-legged
coyotes that savor women’s flesh.

[Joyce speaks again in Spanish, then in English]
Stacks of bones and burgundy smocks lie in the dessert and the names of maquiladoras are etched on the skull,
femur, somewhere.

[Joyce speaks again in Spanish, then in English]
Women are expendable; last page news. Equivalent to the peso.

[sounds of a street demonstration]

PATTERSON: For Common Ground, I’m Kent Patterson reporting.

Our theme music was created by B.J. Leiderman. Common Ground was produced and funded by the Stanley Foundation.

Copyright © Stanley Center for Peace and Security