Monday, December 8, 2008

Yes, Joy....but executions: My first week on the Border

We've had a wonderful week of reconnecting with people we care about. My first week on the Border has been joy-filled.

Yet, with each friend with whom we reunite, the conversation turns inevitably to the Juarez violence--a reality that colors everything here black. I've never experienced warfare. But living here must be like living in a war zone. Since the beginning of the year, more than 1,400 people have been slain in Juárez (a 30 minute stroll from my house) as two drug cartels duke it out for the corridor rights. Worse: no one has been arrested. Most of the executions have been ambush-style slayings as in Al Capone-style Chicago days.

The good news for me is that so far they are mostly targeted killings, liked to drug trafficking. Nevertheless, that calibre of violence has profound implications on one's daily living activities as well as on the general health and well-being of our twin-city.

This weekend alone 28 were slain. On Friday my friend had just come from her neighbor's wake--dead by ten bullets. Officials discovered a naked cadaver stuffed into a manhole three blocks from her home some months back. I hear story after story.

It is bad here. It's bad all across the Border. For instance, Marjorie of Maggie's Madness has relentlessly blogged the Tijuana violence all summer. Even a quick scan of her blog entries will show you a world of hurt. I sincerely urge you to visit Bruce Burman's Border-Blog. As an artist and long-timer here, his poignant post really says it better than I can.

Photo caption: The Sword of Juarez Do be sure to see Bruce Burman's wonderful photograph of this sculpture. He is a real artist (whom I hope to meet sometime during Round 3 of Border exploring.)

Thanks for visiting me here and for caring about the Border mayhem. Truly, I saw little or (more accurately) nothing of this in the press when I lived in the Midwest.


Diane said...

a border culture.... very good.

Diane said...

oops, looks like I commented on the wrong post.

Liberality said...

I am sure that a lot of the people there are suffering from PTSD because that is just one trauma after another is it not?

I hear about this drug violence once in a great while on NPR but nothing at all on TV. Of course I rarely watch TV.

But do take care of yourself as it is very dangerous for anyone down there.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

This is horrifying. I agree with Liberality. Do be careful.

Dee said...

Yes. Please be careful.
My sister lives in San Antonio and her husband´s family lives in central Mexico. He visits at least twice a year. She drops him off in Juarez and he takes the bus down to see his parents.
My sister told me about the drug violence on the border and how dangerous it is in Juarez.
You are right. We don´t think about it. It is rarely reported. Of course the MSM rarely talks about the severe drug use in our own country.
I also took your advice and read Bruce Berman´s Blog. It is a good one.
What is the answer? When will the violence end?
Do you know what is odd. The little town where my brother in law´s family lives is very peaceful. No violence. Of course there is no money or work there, but at least it is peaceful.

ThomasLB said...

Guns are illegal in Mexico. I wonder where they're getting them?

I guess that's one of life's little mysteries that we'll never get an answer to.

Randal Graves said...

Um, yeah, don't get shot. Thank you.

Dusty said...

Be careful kiddo.

Putting this up on Sirens Chronicles. I heart you B.E. ;)

Carol said...

Thanks for being the voice for those forgotten by the media.

Border Explorer said...

I appreciate your good wishes and have yet to venture into Juarez. I feel the same concerns you're voicing--so I won't do anything brazen.

It's insightful, Lib, that you mention PTSD. It will come up in a post soon.

Dee, welcome to this blog. I sure enjoy yours and am glad we found each other. Thanks for sharing your family's first-hand experience.

Thomas, someone told me this week there are almost 2000 gun shops on the Border. Lots get smuggled into MX. Last year there was a big heist of semi-automatics apprehended. [But you were tongue in cheek, weren't you?]

Diane, Ruth, Randal, Dusty, Carol--thanks friends.

Robert Rouse said...

Ah, nothing like the sweet smell of gangland slayings! My first journeys into Mexico were during my days as a sailor stationed in San Diego. Back in the '70s, we used to take a bus down. Of course we wore hats because back then, if you had close cropped hair they immediately knew you were US military. BTW, I just dropped in to let you know I have added a discussion board for the Blogger Album Project.  Feel free to use the board to discuss your favorite cuts off your album choices, selections that came close to making your list, selections others made, etc.

D.K. Raed said...

It's awful and I see no end in sight for this violence. Before this latest round of drug cartel deaths, there were all those young female maquilladora plant workers being found dead in shallow graves a few years ago. They were young women walking home alone late at night taking buses home after working late shifts. I wonder if that ever stopped, or if it has been overshadowed by all these gangland style deaths. You be careful, B.E. & everyone else down there, too.

Border Explorer said...

Robert, will do. Thanks to Pepsi points I have 80 free music downloads I must select before the end of the month. I need to make good choices.

D.K., your comment is astute as always. Unfortunately the slayings of women continue. Diana Washington Valdez tracks this in her blog. The 12/7 entry notes two university women missing and on 11/29 a 14 year old girl. Last spring Diana agreed to meet with my husband and I to discuss ways we might be of service. Perhaps we will follow up on her offer this time around.

susan said...

Please do look after yourself and Mr. BE. I look forward to hearing about all the wonderful people you'll be spending time with and send my prayers that things will get better on the border very soon.

D.K. Raed said...

I hope you do get to meet w/Ms Valdez this season, B.E. I had no idea that these killings of young women were continuing. So many, all young & vulnerable, just trying to make an honest living near the border. They seem unrelated to the ongoing drug violence.

Marjorie said...

Hi there, I just want to clarify something, I've been covering the crime not just since last summer, I've been covering it for the past six years. The MSM would not report the attacks on American tourists and residents here, only Nancy Conroy of the Gringo Gazette did and myself. And no one in the US was paying attention. These attacks of course as we all know now were being carried out by the El Teo faction of the Arellano cartel.

In addition, I've covered the local elections, prior police beheadings and killings in
Rosarito, Hank Rohn trying to strong arm the election here at gunpoint and the several marches against crime in this area, long before it was fashionable to talk about these things.

The big story that you all seemed to miss two weeks ago was not the capture of Pozalero down the road, but the fact that El Teo was tipped off and managed to escape.

Take care,


Border Explorer said...

Thanks for clarifying that for us, Marjorie. I've only been reading you since this summer since I'm new on Blogger, but you're a real veteran and know a lot more about the Border than I do.

And you're right, I missed that story. When the big ones slip away like that, you know something smells bad in that scene. That is another difficult thing about making sense of this scene--nothing is as it seems or as it should be. That gives a nightmarish quality to everything.

Do take care and stay safe! I so respect your commitment to Mexico.
Peace! B.E.