Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Bloodbath Next Door

Few Iowans I speak to know that there's a bloodbath right next door to the U.S. Nearly 150 Juarez murders so far in August brings the 2008 total to nearly 850 (compared to 12 murders in sister city El Paso, TX). The stats are incomprehensible.

No one in Iowa I've spoken to yet knows there's a U.S. advisory against travel in Mexico. Perhaps that's NAFTA posturing--

U.S.: "Shape up, Mexico."
MX: "Yeah, we've got it under control. We've sent federal troops to the border cities."

Nevertheless, the "single most deadly violent incident in Juárez in recent times" occurred Aug. 13 when masked and hooded gunmen let loose with 15 solid minutes of high calibre gunfire to mow down a worship service for recovering addicts at the CIAD drug rehab center. Whether you're a church-goer or not, if you're a human being you'll want to know this story : 15 Minutes of Hell in a Juarez Prayer Assembly.

We're all busy and don't have time to follow all these links, so here's one detail:

When the shooting stopped, bodies lay all over the room. The director of the center ... lay with his body over another pastor’s wife. She and her unborn child survived. The man died. Joel Valles, 47, a deacon of the church, was also killed in the attack. Other witnesses reported that before commencing to shoot everyone in the room, the assassins dragged several people out to the patio, threw them face down and shot them at point blank range.

So the next question is: Why? What does the reporter say about that?
No one knows why the centers were targeted. “All we do is detox, counseling, we try to get people jobs.” Again, I quote the article by reporter Molly Molloy:

What is going on in Juárez? “Something evil. Something very very evil.”

And I go away thinking of recent mass murders in my country and of all the cop and crime scene shows so popular on TV. And I realize that less than 48 hours after this horrific crime, no evidence remains at all. No investigation will ever take place. Not one shred of crime scene tape can be seen. The blood is mostly washed away. The bodies are buried. The family next door saw the killers drive away up the street toward the main avenue that leads to the cement plant. The soldiers sped away to their barracks about a mile to the south.

[B.E. interrupts story: Note the role of the soldiers (we read about them above) sent by the feds to save the day! An eyewitness states: "We are sure that the soldiers were guarding the killers or maybe they came with them so that the police would not be able to intervene. They had to have known what was going on because they passed right in front of the center.” The witness, quoted in the newspaper, asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals.] Now back to M.Molloy:

The newspapers print verbatim the communiqués from the state investigators: 61 ballistic elements of various calibers secured at the scene, 9 mm, 7.62 x 39, .223 and 40 mm. The names of the dead and injured appear in neat lists. The numbers never quite match up. And there will be no arrests.

When I tell this story to friends, they ask why? Some say it is like El Salvador in the 1980s, except that there is no Cold War, no ideology that can explain it. U.S. press accounts say it is a drug cartel war, but nothing about the sad faces of the CIAD workers or the defeated families of the dead in this poor barrio can be connected to these cartels generating billions with their commerce. The newspapers, the politicians, the academics never say what the victims know: something evil, something very very evil...

And in Colonia First of September in Juárez, families hold funerals for the drug addicts, workers and church people killed at CIAD #8. The rehab workers head back to their headquarters in Sonora where they hope they will be safe. Blankets [which covered the dead] are dumped, perhaps to be burned but more likely to be reclaimed, washed and used again.

upper photo caption: Conference room, CIAD #8, four or five people were shot to death in this corner when killers burst into a prayer meeting on the evening of Aug. 13.

lower photo caption: The CIAD secretary fled down this passage during the shooting on Aug. 13; AK-47 bullet holes through window frame. He made it up the ladder to the roof but was shot in the back. He survives in critical condition.


dada said...

Thanks B.E. for this wonderful story with excellent insight into just what's going on constantly in Juarez. Routinely now, U.S. ambulances are summoned to a border bridge to take a survivor or two to a local El Paso hospital.

While this is all extremely disconcerting, I'm even more concerned how this might eventually impact my requisite supply of marijuana, which helps me get through such tragic stories as these.

Missy said...

I'm aghast.

That's almost three times Detroit's murder rate. I think they're in the three hundreds right now.

Why is this happening?

Randal Graves said...

It's happening because if we don't do something, we'll be a nation of coke addicts 300 million strong!

I wonder what the world would be like if it were run by actual adults, even for a couple of months.

DivaJood said...

Actually, I do think it is Drug Cartels who are routinely in bed with Government Officials. This was a statement - opening fire on a place of recovery, a message to people who might want to get off drugs: "You think drugs kill? Try stopping in our territory." It is the club of fear.

And we CONDONE this with entertainment: cop shows, coreographed violence, computer games. I have not watched, but I question the message, sent by the television show "Prison Break."

Listen, I am a recovering addict/alcoholic. I know the mentality of addiction, and the "distribution chain." Fear, and drugs, keep people in line.

Border Explorer said...

Great conversation! You guys are spot-on.
I simply don't have any words to put to this right now. I sure appreciate what you've said, tho.

Mariamariacuchita said...

And there are over 500 gangs in El Paso, or was when I attended the last Border Conference. There are families vyying for control and power over many things from stripped down cars stolen in the US and taken apart in Mexico, drugs, weapons, prostitution and human slavery (trafficking).

Whatever you want in Mexico, you find at the border. Don't forget the 2,000 or so mostly poor Mexican women who were murdered and tortured in Juarez -whose bodies were found out in the dessert. I've seen their images pasted on the wooden telephone posts in this town, tattered paper like black shrouds. Sometimes the cartels and the police are the same family, on both sides of the border. The border only exists as a thin imaginary line. It is a puff of smoke.

susan said...

Drugs, poverty, corruption and violence have followed the NAFTA agreements. First, the maqueladoras were built along the border to provide cheap import goods to the US after the manufacturers closed their factories here. Then they moved on to countries that would provide even cheaper labor leaving extensive enclaves of people with no hope.

Divajood is right about people not being allowed to recover from addiction. It really is a horrible situation.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

I'm stunned and saddened by this evil. I have nothing more to say. It's almost too much to takein.

Border Explorer said...

It's taken me 24 hours to recover from this story enough to respond. Missy, your post was closest to how I was feeling about it--aghast and struggling for understanding. Dada, I loved your humor (and thanks for the affirming words) but the humor, I needed that. Randal, I think you're so right on both points. And Diva, rule, Lady. Your observation of the not-so-covert message being "don't recover" is the only thing that explains this massacre.

Maria, I'd love to attend such a conference. Your observations enrich us: The border only exists as a thin imaginary line. It is a puff of smoke. I'm working on a series on the border wall right now. That's running in the background of my mind.

Susan, you bet NAFTA created a huegamo environment making this the perfect context for chaos.

I've got another piece to the puzzle to post on tomorrow (I hope) if I can get it up.

Lastly, I know it's a lot more fun to poke fun at McCain (or do just about anything else) than to consider these realities, so I genuinely thank you for spending time here with me.

Border Explorer said...

Ruth, that last comment applies to you too. Your message came in while I was composing. Thanks for showing up. Sometimes that's all we can do. So I want to do that much anyway. And you did too.

FranIAm said...

I have read this twice now and I can't even say a word. I am hollowed out and enraged, my heart is broken and it cries.


What also kills me is that so many Americans think of Mexico as some dumpy little country with a few nice beach resorts.

Who has a clue of the great culture that once inhabited that land? And that despite the dark side of coloniziation, it was built up long before here.

We are a nation of morons.

Border Explorer said...

Fran, how articulate! And how very true, unfortunately.

Nevertheless, just to know you and others are aware and care about these atrocities supports me as a human being. I can't see how to proceed but I have to believe that the way will unfold if we continue to pay attention.

Mnmom said...

If my family and I were living in that kind of evil, I would risk everything to cross the border, even if it meant living in poverty in some American city while being hated for merely BEING there. Who can blame them for trying to escape and actually LIVE someplace.

This is horrific.

Border Explorer said...

As Maria pointed out, it has been bad there for a long time. But it is much worse now. I visited friends in Juarez in April and asked them how the violence and the army troops affected them. "Well, there was a body found in the street a few blocks from here," was one reply.

Horrific. Yeah, that says it for me, too.

Bradda said...

Jesus, what a crazy story. I'm guessing they found O'Reilly, Rush, Beck, Hannity books at the gunmen's house like they did with that nut that shot up the Unitarian Church. Madness is all around us...

Border Explorer said...

I hadn't put together in my mind the connection you bring up between these recent church massacres. Each incident manifests a different kind of craziness. Yeah.

Bradda, now I'm thinking about the relationship between crazy and culpable. And that drives me crazy.

Ingrid said...

actually, could it be drug related? If they were recovering addicts, the message could've been intended to say, keep taking our drugs or's mindbogling that this can happen..unbelievable..


Marjorie said...

Here it is:


BTW, boycott Corona.

And Mex POT, it is dripping with blood.


Marjorie said...

Franiam, Not to worry, most of the wealthy gringos who lived in their little gringo enclaves have split,the market is gluted with for sale houses - at least here, because of the drug wars and crime epidemic.

Which is a two edged sword; I have to say whew, sure is nice without em, but the small businesses are really suffering, pushing things further back to the two class system.

Makes you wonder, are the Sinola guys backing Calderon, are the cartels themselves infiltrated with FARC commandos...was Polito a Mier clean...noone knows.

Richard Grabman, down in Mazatlan, suspects that Blackwater is already here.

Border Explorer said...

Maggie, what a great description of the chaos and confusion that is Mexico/Border. It is a nightmarish world where one thing morphs into or charades as something else and no one is really in charge.

And, omg,...Blackwater. Black death.

Marjorie said...

Yep, I wanted to tell Fran that the real jerks are the American white trash off road vehicle racers, completely destructive - and the American and Canadian Real Estate Developers. These people are greedy and horrid. Case in point, the FRANCHISED Trump Towers up the road. And these types, con men, are all over the place here, it is swarming with them and it is revolting.

America has always ignored the cultural aesthetic of Mexico, America has always until just recently ignored Mexico because of our ethnocentricism and our imperialism throughout Latin America.

You have to be careful though, many small communities, even large communities' economics are completely controlled by the cartels, so you have alot of those people who don't want to lose their jobs whatever they may be, from servicing the vehicles to digging the tunnels, loading the trucks,etc., and they are vehemently anti-Mexican Army. Remember, there were still alot of people who voted for Hank Rohn last time around in the TJ Mayoral race, and you all know about him.

Much of the laundered money goes into construction of high rises and condos and houses, hotel. The cartels own the construction companies. They don't care if those places sit empty, they just want to wash the dough. Naturally the gov isn't going to go after these companies, because they employ people. Take a look at your most posh neighborhoods in the United States. The cartels have and are still laundering billions by buying homes in the United States and putting them under every tom dick and harry's name. Never know who your neighbors might be these days up there.

Most of my Mex National neighbors think that some sort of deal has already been made with the cartels, they cool it with the violence, get rid of their hired guns (FARC?) and let the Army protect the routes. Then, everything can go back to "normal", under the surface and very quiet, the tourists will come back, everyone is making money, and the Mexican people remain subservient in the dead end tourist industry. Another theory is that the gov wants the cartels to stay in business but they want bigger payoffs so that much needed infrasturcture can be developed, because this is the one element which is a huge turnoff for Americans coming here looking at property, and a devise to secure popular political clout. Who wants to swim in a beach that is filthy and polluted because of lack of sewage treatment? Roads are bad, hospitals are bad, you name it. A Mex gov that can arrange for improvement to the infrastructure straight across the board via drug money - who gives a shit where it comes from, right - is a popular government. That way, nobody really remember Obrador, let alone Zapata.

Meanwhile in the States, the drug wars and violence, which BTW has already spilled over, the extreme right is using all of this as anti-immigrant and anti-Mexican platform.

It's pretty fubar.

bye, going to go watch the the convention on the intertubes, except I really don't want to even watch Nancy Peloskimous.