Drug War 40

The global war as seen from the center of North America

Mexican advocates say U.S. officials don’t care about tales of violence

By David Agren
Catholic News Service

EL PASO, Texas (CNS) — An unidentified Mexican man and his wife, fearful to reveal their true identities, spoke recently to a group of reporters and immigration advocates in this border city about the violence that forced them to seek refuge in the United States.

The husband tearfully described how carloads of thugs arrived at their home in neighboring Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, burst onto their property, murdered four family members and shot at another two children in the neighborhood.

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Filed under: Analysis, News

Prayer for peace

From the newsletter of city Rep. Susie Byrd:

Prayer Vigil for Juarez
Rosa Guerreo has organized a non-denominational prayer vigil to ask for peace in Juarez. The vigil will be on Saturday, May 1 at 10 A.M. at the Chamizal National Park. She is asking everyone to attend and participate.

Filed under: Analysis, News, opinion

“Behind the army or together with the army, the Sinaloa cartel comes”

From Frontera Norte Sur:

“Behind the army or together with the army, the Sinaloa cartel comes,” de
la Rosa told his audience. “We don’t know or can’t affirm if they came to
an agreement, but that’s the reality we are suffering,” he said.

“It is a war in which three armies participate-the army of the Juarez
cartel, the army of the Sinaloa cartel and the Mexican army,” de la Rosa
asserted. “The people of Juarez aren’t going to gain anything if the
Juarez cartel or the Sinaloa cartel falls.. I can assure you that the
salaries of the people of Juarez won’t go up even a dollar if one of the
two cartels falls.”

According to De la Rosa, the violence in his city has gone through three
distinct stages, with the first one devouring well-off people driving nice
cars and sporting fancy clothes. “It was obvious that the dead people and
the executioners were people linked to the cartels, cartel professionals.”
In the second stage, he said, a large number of young people, presumed
small-time drug dealers or members of the “reserve army” of the rival
cartel, were slaughtered by armed commandos. In the third phase, he
continued, a “terrible massacre” ensued of family members of rivals.

De la Rosa called a group of murder victims consisting of an estimated
300-400 drug addicts “invisible beings” whose deaths didn’t “serve
anybody.” Noting that family members of the slain addicts did not even
bother to press cases, de la Rosa concluded they were “invisible” even to
their own relatives.

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Filed under: Analysis, News

Mexican congressman introduces legalization bill

From a Facebook posting by independent journalist Michael Scanlon, a longtime editor and reporter (including at the El Paso Times):

A Mexican congressman has introduced an initiative to legalize marijuana in order to reduce the effects of drug trafficking, according to El Diario. Convergence Party Rep. Victor Hugo Círigo cited successful legalization in 84 countries worldwide and legalization of marijuana for therapeutic purposes in 14 U.S. states. Círigo said violence cannot be fought with violence, the newspaper reported on its website.

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Filed under: News

Paterson: Drug War knowledge gap

From Frontera NorteSur editor Kent Paterson:

The Mexican History and Geography Gap

Mexico and the border are once again big news. Stories fill the press
about Michele Obama and Hilary Clinton traveling south of the border to
show their support for an embattled government. Report after report comes
in about the latest atrocities in the so-called narco-war. Journalists
rush to the border to check on the “spill-over” violence which, contrary
to the assertions of Arizona Senator John McCain and others who contend
the US’ southern border is “out of control,” has yet to materialize in a
systematic way.

If my 6th grade geography lessons serve me, it would appear the violence
McCain refers to is on the other side of the border line in a country
called Mexico. Indeed, given the level of violence in places like Ciudad
Juarez and Reynosa, it is quite noteworthy how El Paso and other places on
the US side of the border are actually far less violent than many
communities in the interior of the US. Is anyone proposing to send troops
to Albuquerque or Oakland?

For the scary border, though, narratives are constructed, framed and then
massaged into the popular consciousness. In this way, policies are shaped,
sold to the public and charged to the deficit-wracked public till.

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Filed under: Analysis, opinion

Rodriguez: Keeping America safe

From the office of Congressman Ciro D. Rodriguez (TX-23)

The headlines are becoming all too familiar:

“Border violence threatens Americans”

“Drug violence scares off tourists to Mexico”

“Mexico border city relives nightmare of violence”

Texas is my home. I’ve worked and raised my family here and now I represent the 23rd Congressional District in Washington, D.C. It’s a special and diverse district with unique characteristics and special challenges. With 785 miles of contiguous border with Mexico, it also lies smack on the frontlines of our nation’s security.

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Filed under: Government and NGO Resources, opinion

Human rights official: “What is this about, Mr. Attorney General?”

From the Frontera list-serve maintained by Molly Molloy, a statement by Gustavo de la Rosa Hickerson, ombudsmen of the Chihuahua State Commission of Human Rights:

What is this about, Mr. Attorney General?

Mr. Arturo Chavez Chavez
Attorney General of the Republic
Via Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua Delegation

Some one told me that when you were Attorney General of Chihuahua, you
first read the daily newspapers and at the end of the day, you would
look over the documents going through official channels that your
secretary would pass on to you.

With the hope that you still have that good habit, I take advantage of
this space to comment on the course this city is taking from the
perspective of the PGR, as well as deliver the corresponding legal
document.

We Juarenses have put up with the worst two years that any one could
live through. And at the end of that ordeal, 5,000 federal police drop
on top of us.

There is great dread, because now one has to fear la linea, el chapo,
the soldiers and the federal police, there is no safe place!

Some members of that last group are dedicated to invading homes
without arrest warrants, and under the pretext of looking for drugs
take everything of value that they can find, leaving the residents of
the homes beaten and threatened.

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Filed under: Analysis, News, opinion

Drug War discussion at NMSU

With nearly 5,000 murders occurring since 2008 in our sister city of
Ciudad Juárez, an immediate bi-national response is necessary. In
2010 alone, 563 people have been killed and no end is in sight.
Kidnapping and extortion has skyrocketed. This forum seeks to address
this ongoing violence.

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Filed under: Government and NGO Resources

Wright: Legal drugs

Does anybody step on the third rail by accident? Did Santiago Creel decide it’s time to be a statesman because he’s got no future as a politician?

He lost to Felipe Calderon in the PAN’s last presidential primary. He is a scion of one of the country’s most fabled and illustrious families, the Creel Terrazas clan. Even in Mexico, the legalization of drugs is a hot button issue. Has Santiago Creel decided that reason outweighs politics in his own future?

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Filed under: Analysis, News, opinion

Salopek: My old man: Ways of dying in northern Mexico

Don Benito Parra owned a hardscrabble ranch 250 miles south of Juarez
in the rugged Sierra Madre Occidental. Parra had led mule trains
loaded with silver ingots through the cordillera back in the 1940s. He
spoke of Indians armed with bows and arrows, and of a bandit nicknamed
“One-Eyed Ramon.” He once had joined a posse of horsemen tracking a
child-killer into the famous Copper Canyon country; they dropped the
fugitive out of a tree with a Mauser rifle shipped to Mexico by the
last Kaiser. In recent years, I stayed at Don Beni’s rustic spread
between stints of foreign corresponding in places such as Iraq or
Congo. I would help with chores in exchange for offhand lessons in
19th-century pastoralism. Like how to shoe a cranky mule by roping a
leg to its neck. (A tripod can’t kick.) Or how to scour a hand-dug
well with tubs of scalding water — who knew? Or how to use the
Catholic saints days’ calendar to predict rainfall.

In late December, I received a phone call informing me that the old
man was dying. He was bedridden and mumbling my name. So I packed a
rucksack at Princeton, where I was teaching journalism, and flew to
the border. “More bad news,” complained the lone immigration agent on
duty in downtown Juarez, after learning the purpose of my visit. “Why
can’t we get one ordinary tourist?”

I rented a car and drove seven hours into the Mexican mountains.
Soldiers in pixilated desert camouflage peered from behind sandbagged
checkpoints, recalling Anbar Province. Billboards carried Nancy
Reagan’s faded injunction in Spanish: ¡Di NO a las drogas! Don Beni
was laid up at a daughter’s house in the former tourist destination of
Creel. The town’s streets were dead quiet. It had yet to recover from
a cartel shootout in August in which 13 bystanders were cut down in a
cross-fire. One of the gunshot victims had been a baby.

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Filed under: Analysis, News

Drug War 40

We are concerned citizens working to understand and tell the story of the Drug War in El Paso and Ciudad Juarez. We have become a hot spot: Thousands have died in recent years, and the world's attention is on us. But this is multi-generational and international, 40 years in the making. We are only one of many global war zones in which criminal organizations use violence to control markets and fight prohibitionist forces. Those war zones include North American inner city retail sales markets, Mexican transportation hubs and centers of production in the jungles of South America and the fields of Central Asia, and many other places. We primarily see things from the relatively unscathed frontline on the U.S. side of the U.S.-Mexico border, but have a global perspective and the desire for peace for our brothers and sisters on the other side of the line.

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Photos from Public Radio International's report "Mexico's War on Drugs"

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