Editorials | Opinions
|New Year's Letter to the President|
Dr. Tomas - Borderland Beat
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January 04, 2011
Mr. President, I don't know about you but I am relieved that 2010 finally came to an end. The murder of two of my beloved relatives have made it difficult to ignore all the other unsolved murders in Cd. Juarez and throughout Mexico. They estimate over 30,300 have been murdered since you began your war on drugs, over 12,500 in 2010 alone. 3,111 of those came from the border city of Cd Juarez where my family members were killed.
Within the past three years 7,500 people have been killed in Ciudad Juarez, all due to the on-going drug related violence between the Sinaloa and Juarez cartels. This does not include the estimated 2,700 reported car-jackings and the unknown number of people who have been kidnapped or tortured who refused to bring charges due to fear of retaliation. Then too, the growing extortion phenomena of the thousands of businesses that are currently being blackmailed by the two cartels as protection insurance.
The city has one of the highest murder rates in the world. How is it that El Paso, Texas which is located just 25 feet away on the US side be ranked the safest city to live in the entire United States? They had three murders in 2010 and one was a murder suicide.
All these senseless killings have brought home another aspect of these horrific tragedies. It made me wonder what is going to happen to the thousands of orphaned teenagers and children now left behind? What are you doing to take care of our orphans of Mexico? I am willing to give everything I have to help you work on creating a true support agency that will bring relief in the form of therapeutic services, counseling and scholarship monies to these very children.
I have been honored to be a Director of DIF (Desarollo Integral de la Familia: a government program providing assistance to low income families) and understand the institutional and federal processes. I have been at Los Pinos in 2001 to present a five year study to then Secretario Particular Alfonzo Durazo. (top aide and spokesperson for President Vicente Fox)
The children can not and must not be left behind. They are and will be our future. Most of these children, as you know, have witnessed shootings, violent crime scenes and the very murder of their own parent or parents. Most of these children I read about are now drawing graphic scenes of violence and torture they have either heard about, experienced, read in their local newspapers or watched on a daily basis on their local news channels. Many are now orphaned with no type of support to help them overcome the psychological dilemmas they face and will need to overcome in the years to come.
This is not only the situation for thousands of children in Cd. Juarez, but for many more throughout Mexico. By one estimate that I read, there are approximately 10,000 children who have lost at least one parent in Cd. Juarez. According to human rights activist Gustavo de la Rosa Hickerson, the number of orphans in the entire country could well be over 50,000.
According to a recent study, in Cd. Juarez there are more than 165,000 children below the age of six already experiencing psychological post traumatic stress disorders. Many are suffering with night terrors, are unable to sleep, are experiencing anxiety and dealing with some type of depression. I also read that hundreds of middle and high school aged children have already chosen to drop out rather then risk getting killed going to school or confronting the violence that surrounds them. Many others are turning to substance abuse to help them deal with the violence they're living. It is estimated that many are turning to the very same drug traffickers and are also committing petty crimes.
These teenagers are joining the narcotics cartels in droves and are getting younger and younger. Kids like Edgar Jimenez, nicknamed \"El Ponchis\" who was apprehended recently and worked for the South Pacific Cartel since he was 11 years old. Mexico is falling into a spiral that will scar an entire generation. Life for many, as they say, was already tough but now it’s horrendous.
Mr. President you visited Cd. Juarez four times last year. You also earmarked 700 million pesos, or roughly $55 million dollars for economic development and approximately 117 programs aimed at developing more educational, cultural, health, safety and economic programs. However, the new Juarez Mayor, Hector “Teto” Murguia, and Chihuahua’s new Governor, Cesar Duarte, can't even promise that a positive change is coming.
Where is the change that will establish a new strategy to fight this organized terrorist crime? When will you establish a new strategy with in-depth alternatives and solutions to the on going security crisis now being lived by every soul in Cd. Juarez?
"Teto" Murguia has already told you that Juarez, a city of 1.3 million, needs at a minimum 7,000 police officers and yet he has only been able to hire 3,000. He has told you what you already know - that he needs better paid and better trained officers immediately. Whose life is worth $500.00 US a month? (which is the average salary for a hard working Juarez policeman) Yes, what is needed are more officers with anti-abduction and anti-extortion training and with an intelligence unit focused on identifying feuding cartel targets and engaging them with precision strikes.
Sadly there have been two direct attacks on the children of Cd. Juarez. You are well aware of the one that occurred at the beginning of last year on January 30th to be precise, The other occurred as recently as October 22nd. On the January 30th attack, 18 masked men arrived in seven trucks and broke up a party where middle and high school students who attended the CBTIS 128 (a local technical arts high school), and the Baccalaureate College # 9 of the Universidad Autonoma de Chihuahua system were in attendance. They were attending an end of the school semester celebration and also celebrating a classmate's birthday.
These masked cowards (sicarios) ended up slaughtering 15 and wounding 13 others, leaving most of these with brain injuries due to the horrific gun fire of the automatic weapons.
Most recently on October 22nd, there was another violent and senseless attack that left 16 teenagers dead. All were massacred by large caliber bullets from assault weapons. 19 others were seriously wounded with the youngest just 9 years of age. All were attending a birthday party for one of the 14 year olds.
There are no words to describe these tragedies. The deep sadness and anger felt by the families of young people that have been massacred is compounded by the fact that there just one man has been indicted and no new leads on who else was responsible for these horrific acts.
One has to ask, just how many more children and teenagers will be murdered before your authorities can regain control? What will it take before you influence public opinion on both the national and international levels to begin a new strategy? The sad reality is that cartels are not going to disappear as a result of your on-going war.
It has been estimated that $40 billion to $50 billion come from drug trafficking and will continue to flow into our Mexican economy for years to come. I read somewhere that 70% of our businesses are in one way or another influenced by these cartels.
I have to ask respectfully, will you finally step forward and rescue Mexico from Mexico? If not you then who will stop this genocide? With the state of despair that all Mexicans, including myself find ourselves in, we can no longer remain silent.
It has been a heartbreaking and painful year for my family. We still have hundreds of relatives bravely going about their lives - always looking over our shoulders and surviving this war zone. Although we will continue to pray for that miracle, we cry as we await; hopeful that you will one day deliver a more secure and peaceful country.
We wait in agony while more innocent people continue to be brutally decimated each hour.
Mr. President, I seriously doubt that anyone in any particular city in the world would stand by and watch even one child murdered without an outcry. Where else in the world would this occur several times a day and on a daily basis and it not be declared a state of national crisis and a beleaguered state of emergency? The situation in Ciudad Juarez, much like other cities around Mexico, is now in a state of social catastrophe.
In Cd Juarez 27% of homes have been abandoned and 230,000 of its residents have fled. 46% of its businesses have closed.. Those businesses that remain are forced to pay extortion payments. Payments that so common now that they've become known as "cobros del piso" or "floor charges", just to enable a merchant to do business in his own store in Juarez. A million or more too poor to leave Juarez remain there.
Those with jobs and temporary passports are now crossing into El Paso more frequently for services that are no longer available in their neighborhoods. It is estimated that they are spending an average of $220 million a year there. An estimated 60,000 residents, mainly the rich as well as the Mayor have moved to El Paso as well. Many have brought their assets and started up new businesses. Hundreds of business owners and professionals created a group called La Red or "the net" to network and assist them in starting up new businesses - its membership grew from nine members to 300 in an eight month period last year.
Still, it appears to all observers that even the judicial and governmental powers are also in disarray. How else would a peaceful demonstrator Marisela Escobedo, a 52 year old woman, be killed in plain site of a Governor's office?
So far everything that has been attempted has shown little progress or failed. Twelve mayors were assassinated throughout Mexico in the last year, six in the last four month since Aug. 16th.
Mr. President it is evident that your war on drugs has failed. Little that you have attempted has been effective in putting an end to these senseless tragedies. Our family lost two loved family members in the last six months. We grieve for them and yearn for the day that we can bring their killers to justice. Justice for their senseless murders.
Today I am raising yet another voice for the thousands of families who, like my own, have suffered the pain of losing a loved one. I am demanding justice for the murdered. The children and teenagers of Mexico are the new martyrs in this endless war. I am pleading for you to affirm your commitment to each of these children, our children.
The people of Ciudad Juarez and Mexico are living on their knees. Praying and pleading for justice, for security and for peace. Paying with their blood from the violent drug war that has completely taken over every waking moment of their lives.
Today I am pleading for that Peace that can only come through a governed state. With all due respect, we don't need any more promises, no more projects no more half measured confrontations! What is needed is for your government to mobilize every ounce of intelligence and force and dismantle all the cartels that govern openly throughout our beloved Mexico.
Our people have shed enough blood. They, I ... we, have lost more loved ones then anyone should ever have to, in a lifetime. If ever a government needed to take action it is yours, Mr. President. If you are to save our country you need to take decisive action to take down these cartels!
You must act to reassure us that our country is capable of defending its basic principals, our sovereignty and more importantly safe guard each of your citizens. President Calderon, our beloved Mexico is on its knees and headed into an abyss.
No one should have to live under siege and threatened every time they step outside their home, go to school or walk to church. NO ONE!
No one should fear going to bed wondering if tomorrow is the day that they will be killed.
No one should be killed for refusing to give up their life's work and property like seventy seven year old Don Alejo Garza Tamez did on Nov. 14th. He fought back against some fifteen attackers with nothing but his hunting rifles. Where was his help?
Where was the help that all those innocent children needed on the day they were massacred? Where? I don't know about you Mr. President but I have trouble sleeping knowing and continuing to watch what is happening right before our eyes.
Mr. President we're still here waiting on you.
• • •
With 3,156 murders in 2010, Ciudad Juarez ended its bloodiest year in a growing and unprecedented streak extending over the past three years.
The number of murders in 2010 was 21 percent higher than in 2009, when Cd Juarez suffered 2,601 murders. (all these figures are unofficial numbers based on the journalistic count.)
The number of murders in 2009 was 62.6 percent higher than in 2008, when 1,607 murders were counted.
But the huge growth of drug related homicides has its most extreme contrast in the figure recorded in 2007 of only 304 murders, which in the context of that year was already considered a very high number.
The number of murders in 2008 were 428 percent higher than in 2007, and if we look at a comparison of murders in 2007 versus 2010, the gap is an increase of 938 percent.
The wave of deaths that began during the month of November, 2007, has led to the conclusion that Juárez is the world's most violent city in spite of (or perhaps because of) the growth of the Mexican government’s security efforts.
Today there are approximately 12,000 military and federal, state and municipal police agents/officers operating in Cd Juarez under the command known as “Joint Operation Chihuahua”.
The conflict between the Sinloa cartel’s “Gente Nueva” and the Juarez cartel’s “La Linea”, and between them and the authorities, continues on its relentless, bloody course.
Source article for context section: www.arrobajuarez.com