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Monterrey’s drug war madness cripples model city

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Robin Emmott has been covering the drug wars in Mexico for the past four-and-a-half years, based in the north industrial city of Monterrey. Robin’s special report “If Monterrey falls, Mexico falls” examines the sharp rise in violence in recent years and how the country’s richest city is dealing with it. (Read the story in multimedia PDF format here.)

Here’s what Robin had to say about working on the story:

“Don’t worry about the violence,” the elderly priest said to the congregation in a middle class suburb of Monterrey last month. “Get out there and live your lives. When it’s your time to die, God will decide,” he said in his Sunday sermon as the distinctly bemused churchgoers looked up at him from the pews.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when a close friend who was at church that day told me the anecdote.

It is a sign of just how desperate things have become in Monterrey, the prosperous Mexican city near the Texan border that until four years ago was proud of itself as a Latin American success story.