Sunday, November 6, 2011

Just Another Afternoon in Juárez

By Edward V. Byrne for The Yucatan Times

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Only feet from a neighborhood tech school

There are tons of websites and blogs inside and outside of Mexico which cover nothing but the ongoing drug war and the endless narco violence. Some are in Spanish, some in English, some both. I'm not one of them, nor will I ever be.

It's not my goal to furnish readers with a steady diet of violence. Of course, violence is very much a part of the reality of life in Mexico, and to ignore it altogether would be to lie. When 35 bodies are dumped on a main street at 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon in full view of horrified motorists and passers-by, you can bet I'm going to write about it. As I said in a recent editorial in The Yucatan Times (click on it below), "It is important to faithfully record what really happens here every day, just as it is and not as it might be. To suppress the truth would be to inflict further violence on the innocents, on those who have already once been victimized. I will not do that."

This afternoon brings more "routine" stories of multiple drug related murders across Mexico. In Chihuahua, six young people were executed. The details are yet unclear. But a report from the border town of Ciudad Juárez caught my eye. I believe Juárez still holds the title of the world's most dangerous city, based upon its homicide rate in recent years. It's more dangerous than Baghdad, we're told.

At about 2:00 p.m., three undercover officers were working the streets in an unmarked car. They were part of a special anti-extortion unit in Juárez. That particular crime goes on everywhere in Mexico, and carries with it the power to destroy the country. Armed gunmen walked quickly up to the car, and immediately opened fire with machine guns. The officers were killed instantly. All of this happened just a few feet from a neighborhood technical high school where young people were working diligently, trying to prepare themselves for a future which, candidly, may never come. Reports say they were in terror after hearing the chilling, staccato gunfire so close to their school.

There are some in this country - "intellectuals" - who accuse president Felipe Calderón and his administration of committing war crimes by taking on the drug cartels. They want to indict him on the world stage, before the same international criminal court which is still busy trying mass executioners from the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. I wish I could deliver each and every one of those "intellectuals" a personal message. Sometimes, for me, Mexico is a very hard place to understand.

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