Juarez itself is extraordinary. It is filled with extraordinary stories and occurrences. The violence that happens there should not happen anywhere. But there is always more to a story than a simple telling will relate.
Thus, the dilemma--whether one is a border journalist or merely a fronterista:
how to communicate the extraordinary horror without neglecting the extraordinary heroism?
In this post, some women in a poor Juarez neighborhood will speak for themselves. The question posed to them by a group of visitors from the U.S.: What message do you want us to carry back with us?
Their responses follow [all added emphasis is mine]:
- Tell the people there that the only thing the media covers is all the violence in Juarez. They don't tell you about all the good people here and places like this Center [Centro Santa Catalina] that make a difference in our lives.
- Tell them that the murders are not the only violence here. We also suffer the violence of hunger and poverty. Many people eat only one meal a day now because there is no work.
- Let people know how important education is to us and our children. It's only by keeping our children in school that we can keep them away from the violence. This Center helps us do that.
- We want you to thank your college and your parents for letting you visit us! Thank you for believing in us! [B.E. notes: Very few visitors are now willing to come to Juarez. Non-profits--and those they assist--suffer from this isolation and lack of support.]
- Remember that the United States has a share in our problems. The weapons being used by the murderers come from the US; the drugs that are being sold go to markets in the US. We didn't create this problem by ourselves and we can't solve it alone.
Two footnotes: Centro Santa Catalina is a border group that my husband and I support in our charitable giving. It does good work in an extraordinarily dangerous environment.
The unnamed Mexican women pictured in the photo above are not associated with Centro Santa Catalina; their photo is simply an illustration for this blog post.