Near the end of her life, while she was writing her autobiography, Jenni Rivera reflected about all the battles she had fought in her life--many of them won and many lost, especially in her love life. "It took me many years to understand what the rappers had been trying to teach me back there in secondary school: the best way to resolve disputes is through song. That way, you win the battle and even get to keep the damn royalty money."
In the lyrics of many of her songs, Jenni exorcized most of her demons--from her mother's intention to abort her due to circumstances surrounding her pregnancy, though the abuse and discrimination she was subjected to as a woman, to the sweet taste of revenge against those who had dared to be unfaithful in her life. But there were some demons that needed more than one song to overcome, especially rape.
The most bitter pill she had to swallow, and which was repeated several times, was when she discovered her first husband, José Trinidad Marín, had repeteadly abused her younger sister Rosie and her daughters Chiquis and Jacquie (the latter only two years old). That horror, added to her own rape, drove her to become an activist against sexual abuse and to create a foundation to help abused women and their families.
The first time appeared on Sábado Gigante (one of the most watched programs on Univision), it was not to promote her music. According to Liliana Escalante, the program's producer, "She told me she wanted to reveal on the program a reality few were discussing at that time, least of all in our community--sexual abuse within families."
"Jenni's heart ached at the thought of her loved ones losing their innocence at the hands of a man she had brought into their lives, and it made her bitter to think he was at large," said Escalante. That is why she decided to go public with her tragedy. She wanted her example to serve as encouragement other women to denounce a crime that happened all the time in their environment.
This is a subject that leaves no one indifferent and upon which she placed special importance. "It requires extreme courage for an absurd woman whose family has also suffered abused to speak out on the subject. And as a famous person, a role model, it seems to me doubly complicated. This woman sat down and frankly threw open the doors so that many people could realize this was pretty common and it happened to a lot of people," said Leila Cobo.
Those people, those women whom Jenni addressed in her radio and television programs and in her songs, were the ones who lost the most with the death of Jenni Rivera in that agonizing accident on December 9, 2012, according to María Antonieta Collins.
But sexual abuse was not the only cause embraced by Jenni Rivera. Her parents arrived in the U.S. undocumented and withstood all the rigors of immigration by economic factors but relegated to the subculture of a developed society that was often deaf of the plight of the most needy.
Having crossed the border in her mother's belly, she had never been a stranger to the calls for immigration reform that would put an end to the constant deportation of the undocumented (and which today, a year after her death, continues to dange precariously after a refusal by the House of Representatives to debate the bill approved mid-year in the Senate).
When Arizona approved the infamous 1070 law against the undocumented, Jenni Rivera was first in line to protest the discrimination. She jumped in a car with all her family, joined the marches in opposition to the law, and sang and spoke in support of those who denounced the regulation.
"She passionately followed that issue because it was the story of her family," said Leila Cobo. "And it's a nice story. Her father is an admirable man, because to raise one successful child is difficult, but to raise four or five seems incredible to me. The man comes from Mexico, undocumented, and riases family, and her mother arrives pregnant. Jenni is a great example of what can happen with an immigrant who wants to work." And as Maria Antonieta Collins said, "all, all immigrants who work and maintain the house, are in essence Jenni Rivera."