Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
The people of Ciudad Juarez are starting to lose all hope. When gunmen burst into a birthday party on Friday and killed 14 people, the horrific act should have at least shocked Mexican authorities into action. But even the sight of blood running out of a suburban patio, the broken chairs and the party-goers’ bodies slumped on the concrete have become all too familiar in the desert city across from El Paso, Texas.
It was at the start of 2010 that another, gruesomely similar shooting was warning enough that the city was spiraling toward criminal anarchy.
In January in a working class neighborhood just blocks away from Friday’s shooting, gunmen killed 15 people, again mainly teenagers, at a party. Back then, just like on Friday, a nearby federal police checkpoint seemed to turn a blind eye to what was going on and did nothing to stop the killers.
At the very least in January, the mother of one of the slain teenagers had the chance to vent her anger in person at Felipe Calderon, the conservative president who launched Mexico’s drug war four years ago. The Mexican leader was sufficiently moved by the January killings to fly to Ciudad Juarez and there, amid national outrage, he announced a plan to rebuild the broken, dirty mess of the city that was once lauded as a poster child for free trade, with its factories producing fridges and television for U.S. consumers.
It is difficult to imagine things getting much worse in Ciudad Juarez, the manufacturing city across from El Paso that has become one of the world’s most dangerous places. Extortions, beheadings, bombs in cars, daylight shootouts and kidnappings are all daily fare in the border town once better known as a NAFTA powerhouse and party zone for fun seeking Americans. Even the Mexican army stands accused of abusing the trust citizens once placed in it, carrying out possibly hundreds of wrongful arrests and illegal house raids.
Things are so bad that business leaders are calling for a state of emergency to be called in the city on the Rio Grande with nighttime curfews in a bid to control the violence. Around 10,000 businesses have closed in Ciudad Juarez over the past two years. A military-enforced curfew doesn’t resound much with residents who want the thousands of troops sent in by President Felipe Calderon to leave town for good. More than 6,700 people have died in drug killings since the army arrived in early 2008 and locals say the army-led crackdown on gangs has only provoked more violence across the city and its surrounding Chihuahua state. (Click here for full Mexico drug war coverage)
Drug violence in Mexico is intensifying even by traffickers’ barbaric standards.
In recent days, heavily armed hitmen launched coordinated attacks on federal police stations in western Mexico and dumped the semi-naked, bloodied bodies of 12 federal agents by a mountain highway, killed two U.S. Mormons in their Mexican community and killed a mayor in a northern ranching town.