Lilian Paola Ovalle
Orcid ID:
Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, Ensenada, México

Alfonso Díaz Tovar
Orcid ID:
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Lourdes Angulo
Fundación Verter A.C. Mexicali, México


This paper is the result of a comprehensive ethnographic work, including accompaniment to female injecting drug users (FIDU) in Mexicali border town, in Baja California. The theoretical reflection upon the physical and psychological brutality posed by contemporary borders is presented through a particular case: Marisol’s story, offering ethnographic data to allow the reader to feel and to reflect upon those frontiers, as well as sensing how overwhelming and immobilizing they are for the most vulnerable links in our society. Marisol’s case is nothing more of an isolated case, it is a narrative repeated once and again, in which border military and prison complexes’ symbolic, material, and daily ways are made evident in places where the less harm should be done, that is, care institutions where these women turn to. This paper is structured in three sections: 1) Re-becoming a mother. -The illusion of having an opportunity, 2) Give birth. Embrace loneliness, 3) A baby under government care and chances to recover her. Each section tells and articulate a story of the hindrances, arbitrariness, and brutalities faced by Marisol through her experience as a mother and drug user. At the same time, links are made between her personal experience and the macro elements that help us make these female injecting drug users and their children visible, as victims enduring today’s drug policies and the “border industrial complex”.

Keywords: motherhood, injecting drugs, border, brutality.