Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Senseless Savagery: The U.S. connection to the Juarez Student Massacre

Caption: Carlos Marentes ponders the gravity of the violence in Juarez.

Sixteen Mexican youth were gunned down at a high school party by multiple, heavily armed killers, who reportedly filed away in silence. A horrified world views photos of Sunday morning streets running red with innocent blood. And the neighboring United States watches silently, with widened eyes, wondering: “How do we respond to this? How should we respond?”

Clearly, violence in El Paso’s twin city has escalated to an unbelievable level. Known in 2007 for the murder of women, the city of Juárez now claims a dubious record: first in the world in homicides per capita with 2,600 assassinations just last year. And with 227 assassinations already this year, 2010 stands a good chance of topping anything we’ve seen yet.

Expressions of sympathy and wishes of solidarity may be appropriate. But words not backed by deeds are only empty words. What does a neighbor do in the face of such savagery? What now, United States?

Human rights activist Carlos Marentes, native of the border cities of Juárez /El Paso, suggests that reconsideration of the Merida Initiative, the U.S. package of drug war aid to Mexico, is a good place to start. “The Merida Initiative is the main source of revenue for the war,” asserts Marentes.

But, doesn’t Mexico need this assistance more than ever now?

“Juárez is frozen in a climate of fear. The citizens can not differentiate between criminals and authorities. For most of the people, they are one and the same. They are acting together.”

According to Marentes, the climate of violence in Juárez is a direct result of the drug war, an anti-trafficking initiative of the Bush Administration. This strategy functioned conveniently for the U.S. because the casualties occurred on foreign soil (Mexico) thereby keeping the U.S. public largely unconcerned and uninvolved.

Through the Merida Initiative, the U.S. provides resources—a pledge of $1.6 Billion--to strengthen the Mexican military. But increasingly the war casualties are innocent civilians. Mexican authorities, who once asserted that the fatalities were related to the drug trade, can no longer deny that violent crime has ended the lives of many ordinary citizens, including children, journalists—with already 3 three reported 2010 deaths--and human rights advocates.

Ironically, a recent story in the Mexican El Universal reports that 70% of Merida Initiative resources remain in the United States as profits from contracts for military and intelligence equipment. The U.S. corporations reap the profits; Mexico reaps the corpses.

As early as July 2009, Human Rights Watch called on the U.S. Department of State to disallow Merida funding until alleged Mexican military human rights offenses are tried in civil, not military, courts.

This cry was reinforced this weekend at the National Latino Congreso, held in El Paso. A number of the resolutions they approved addressed the violence. One is particularly noteworthy. It “vehemently urges” the U.S. to tie Merida Initiative funding to demonstrated respect for human rights in Mexico. It was sponsored by the coalition Mexican Journalists in Exile (PEMEX).

The people of Mexico survive in a state of on-going grief, frozen by the paralysis of mourning. Bizarre and ruthless warfare, operating on several levels, has spun out of control. U.S. funding is fueling the fire. U.S.-manufactured weapons are killing and intimidating the innocent. U.S. demand—consuming 25% of the world’s drugs—drives the dynamic.

Merely shaking a finger at Mexican corruption, or sending a sympathy note about Mexican violence is not enough now. These responses are easy, but they are not honest. The U.S. needs to consider its own role in the Mexican bloodshed.

Senseless savagery will continue unabated if we don’t.


claire said...

"U.S. funding is fueling the fire. U.S.-manufactured weapons are killing and intimidating the innocent. U.S. demand—consuming 25% of the world’s drugs—drives the dynamic."

On another blog, Quotes and Musings, I found a quote from the former President of the Methodist Church of South Africa who said:
"You have to help good people see how they have let their institutions do their sinning for them. This is not easy among people who really believe that their country does nothing but good, but it is necessary, not only for their future, but for us all."
... people who believe that their country does nothing but good...

Thank you Billie for reporting on this.

Border Explorer said...

Oh my goodness, that is powerful, Clarie! Sooooo true. I know: I used to be one of those people who thought the country did nothing but good.

BTW, the 25% stat came from blogger friend Dada of Dada's Dally.

mmlindsey said...


Matt and I just returned from Juarez. We spent the weekend reconnecting with our community there. We are grateful for the strength that you pour out in your posts, for being bold and fighting for our family in Juarez. We are honored to be on your side, and we know that the more hands that join us, the more powerful a force we will be to change Juarez into the beautiful city it really is. Keep on posting, keep on fighting, Juarez needs your voice!


Barbara said...

Billie, these killings and our involvement as a neighboring country are horrendous!!! I/we need the challenge to keep our minds and hearts open to receive this message and contact our Congress people to bring about change. You help me to awaken my own "physic numbness"! Thank you.

afeatheradrift said...

Billie thanks so very much for keeping this in the forefront. I am getting more and more involved myself in immigration issues through church, and appreciate all I learn here.

Border Explorer said...

Misty, your words are precious to me. Thank you so much. I'm glad you got back to touch base and hope it was deeply satisfying for you and Matt. There is much you can do for Juarez as a "reverse missionary," and I know you two are doing all you can. God bless!

Border Explorer said...

Barbara, thanks for sharing your thoughts here--much appreciated. What a good point about the numbness we all experience that sometimes stops us from doing things that need to be done.

Sherry, I never doubt for a minute all the good you are accomplishing. I'm honored by your words and glad that you find something worthwhile here. Onward!

an average patriot said...

Hi Billie! We both know this is a US problem that is threatening to take over Mexico.

I only see this getting much worse. This too is going to get much worse like it or not.

It is starting to look like total war and the civilians always suffer