By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
On February 7, 2011, Sara Salazar is riding with a granddaughter and three other family members: her son Elias and his wife, Luisa, and her daughter Magdalena. All have chronic illnesses and are barely able to walk. Just after they pass a military checkpoint, masked gunmen stop the car. They force Sara and the granddaughter to the ground at gunpoint and take the others away.
On February 15, the Reyeses stage a protest in Ciudad Juárez outside government offices. At the same time, their home in Guadalupe, less than 100 yards from an army barracks, is burned to the ground by armed men. Sara and two other daughters travel to Mexico City to protest, and they speak on national media, begging for the safe return of their missing family members. A couple of weeks later, the bodies of Elias, Luisa and Magdalena turn up by the roadside, covered in dirt and lime. The government announces that they have been killed because of their ties to the drug world.
Now the survivors sit under trees in the yard by the pool in El Paso as children play. More than 10,500 people have been murdered across the border in Juárez since 2008. The city is one of the most dangerous places on earth, with murder rates over the past five years ranging from 150 to 300 per hundred thousand. In the nearby small town of Guadalupe, the murder rate is closer to 2,000 per hundred thousand. New York City's murder rate is about six per hundred thousand.
The United States, the nation worried about terrorism, gives half a billion dollars a year to a Mexican army that murders and terrorizes Mexicans. The United States walls off Mexico on national-security grounds and then decries imaginary violence spilling north across the border. The United States constantly praises the Mexican government for its brave fight against drug organizations, even though in the five and a half years since President Calderón launched the war that has resulted in the murders of at least 100,000 Mexicans, the delivery of drugs has not been disturbed and prices have not increased. The United States has helped to create a death machine, and now the eyewitnesses come north.
Americans must ask themselves this question about their War on Terror: What if the enemy is their treaty ally Mexico, and what if the problem is the state terrorism by that ally against the Mexican people?
A businessman crosses the bridge from Ciudad Juárez to El Paso. The state police came to his business. He could not meet their increased extortion demands, so they held him down in front of his friends and cut his feet off. Now he rolls across the bridge, his mother driving him to safety. He seeks asylum. He calls Carlos Spector's law firm. He enters a system worthy of Franz Kafka.
Of the 20,000 U.S. grants of political asylum in 2010, only 192 were for Mexicans. Most such applicants arrive at the line with no money or papers. Many are cast into the gulag of U.S. immigration prisons for months or even years. If released, they are unlikely to be allowed a work permit for months. If entered into the process for political asylum, they could wait years for a hearing. No Mexican is likely to apply unless death stares him or her in the face. Political asylum is not some tactic Mexicans use to game our system. But it is a test of our claims of being for freedom and justice and elemental human rights.
After the spate of killings in Guadalupe, fliers circulated saying, "Si no se van del pueblo, les pasarán lo mismo que los Reyes Salazar" ("If you don't leave town, you will get the same as the Reyes Salazars.") Most of the Reyes family still waits to have their pleas for asylum heard. The doors to their country have closed forever behind them. A surviving sister, Marisela Reyes, says: "Nuestro nombre en Mexico significa la muerte." ("Our name in Mexico means death.")
There is a rhythm to state terrorism in Mexico. First there are threats, such as the footsteps clearly heard by Miguel's father in the days preceding the slaughter of the family. Then there is the killing itself, the indifference of the police, the pious laments of government officials. Then more terror, such as his father's partner, Yolanda, being decapitated, such as Miguel's fellow photographers winding up dismembered in garbage bags. And finally, if one refuses to follow the rules, there is the destruction of a person's reputation. This last stroke is inevitable if the person speaks out about the nature of the Mexican government.
Miguel speaks out at a forum in Austin in late May 2012 about the controlled nature of the Mexican press and state-sponsored terror in Veracruz. He repeats the same things a week later at an El Paso press conference with Carlos Spector.
Two days later, Notiver, the paper to which his father devoted his life, announces that the son never really worked there but was simply kept around as a kind of pet because of his father. They say Miguel could solve the murder because he probably knows who killed his family. They imply that he is an informant for the DEA or the FBI — a dangerous allegation in Mexico. Proceso, the influential news magazine, repeats most of the charges without any questions. The charges are all lies or smears. But that hardly matters.
Nice nice i like it!!! check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EeewRDqXpVw
if they took up arms against their oppressors as we did in 1776 then their problem would be what do we do with our freedom, instead they run away hide and complain about the violence? and expect America to fix it? we have enough of our own problems when you fix ours begining with illeagel immigration then we might be willing to listen to your complaints
Was it the war on drugs that killed all of these people or was it the drug war that killed these people?
...what's the difference?.... If the business of trading in these various commodities was legal and regulated (as is tobacco and tequila), would these gangs be viciously killing innocent men, women and children in the streets of Mexico? The prohibition drug policies of the world have not improved our quality of life. Instead; those who are willing to destroy peace and tranquility have been allowed to advance their agenda of death, destruction and evil.
It's past time for a major change in world wide drug policies.
Maybe it is time for some change. But the fact of the matter is the drugs are not legal right now and won't be for in the near future. I don't see any organized movement to legalize them as of yet anyways. And until they are legal, maybe people should take an ounce of personal responsibility for their actions. The fact of the matter is that if you are currently using drugs that have come through Mexico you are the end consumer in a business model that has brutally killed tens of thousands of people. You have have blood on your hands. Everyone just goes to the "they should legalize it" line. It's a cop out and it's selfish. Take some responsibility for yourself the effects your actions have on the world.
Although it will not solve every problem, legalization and regulation will be a clear improvement of the situation. And just so you know, I support legalization for the worldwide effects that it would have - not the personal/selfish effect. I am not an illegal "drug" user. And if you would look around, you might find a few organizations that are having degrees of success in their legalization efforts . As a matter of fact, the Texas Democratic Party put legalization on its' party platform this year. It appears to me that somebody is taking responsibility and showing initiative in a good way on this issue.
@123blowme I have no connection to the alcohol industry and I didn't single out pot users. The question is, do you think a legalized industry of hard drugs would lead to more or less deaths than the current alcohol industry. I would argue that it would be worse.
@Humanbeing Do you work for the alcohol industry? More people die each year due to alcohol-related death and violence than all drug cartel killings combined over the past five years. So yeah, pot users may have blood on their hands but not near as much as boozers.
"The United States walls off Mexico on national-security grounds and then decries imaginary violence spilling north across the border". Was a pretty good article until that kneeslapper. How's the weather in your world Senor Bowden?
Words that attempt to describe the catastrophic disaster that is taking place across the border will always be insufficient. The problems that are coming from the mindset that brings on drug use and drug wars should be addressed by an international summit and task force. Public policy that will turn the habits of the worlds population into assets as opposed to liabilities is necessary right now! I am encouraged that the Texas Democratic Party has included the legalization of marijuana in its' party platform this year. This is a good first step toward solving the problems brought on by the stupidity of drug interdiction policies. Drug interdiction policies do not work and cost too much money and waste too many lives. Its past time that people in this country try a new approach to this problem.
One thing that could work to greatly reduce drug-related crime; legalize drugs in the US, regulate strength and purity and sell them OTC to adults, applying 'sin' taxes as is presently done to alcohol and tobacco.
This is unlikely to happen for several reasons; inertia, the money to be made by the 'justice' and penal systems from prohibition, and outright bribes to legislators to maintain the status quo.
Been a Bowden fan for years. His research and writing on the morass that is Mexico today is very interesting and enlightening. What does amaze me is the utter ignorance in the States about what is truly going on in Mexico now. I was visiting Jalisco last month, a relatively safe state, and had the opportunity to meet with Mexicans that live above the poverty line and they all said they are truly scared about the random nature of the violence. They are more frightened by the military, state and local police than they are the Zeta's or other narco's.
The shear volume of bodies in many of the mass killings in the last couple years is astonishing.
How does a band of criminals kidnap, torture and dismember 50 people and dump the body parts on a major urban highway during rush hour with no one noticing it.
Hijacking full buses traveling through Tamaulipis and killing people 20 to 30 at a time. 70 migrants lined up and shot dead in a barn near San Fernando.
The videos of people being decapitated while still alive. The killing of innocent family members on video to extort money.
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