CIUDAD JUÁREZ, Mexico — In the six weeks since gunmen killed 15 people in a working-class neighborhood here, the police, the governor, psychologists and even the president’s wife have descended.
Miguel Tovar/Associated Press
President Felipe Calderón of Mexico addresses a press conference in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on Tuesday.
The first lady, Margarita Zavala, promised to build a field for playing American football in a giant trash-strewn lot nearby. The psychologists played games with the neighborhood’s terrified children to help them cope.
And then everybody left. The lot is still barren, and children still have trouble sleeping at night.
“I want to go back to before,” said a mother of three who lost her husband that night when he went out to rescue their 16-year-old son, whose legs were so badly injured that he may not walk again. She would not provide her name for fear that whoever was behind the killings would come back to finish off the witnesses.
“I wish it were all a dream, that everybody is back,” she said. Then she shrugged weakly.
The killings that night in Villas del Salvarcar, a neighborhood of modest concrete homes in the southeast reaches of this border city, set in motion a blur of political movement that continued Tuesday when President Felipe Calderón visited here for the third time since the shootings.
Eager to show that the federal government is committed to ending the drug-related violence that has killed 500 people in Juárez since Jan. 1 — including three people connected with the United States Consulate who were shot dead on Saturday — Mr. Calderón turned up with a laundry list of social programs that he hoped would placate the city’s increasingly angry citizens.
In the weeks since the killings in Villas del Salvarcar, the president has changed tack, acknowledging that his emphasis on a military solution to end the violence of the drug gangs will not work by itself. There are 10,000 soldiers and police officers patrolling the city’s streets, but every week, the violence seems to grow more brazen.
A front-page editorial in El Diario de Juárez asked, “How can citizens sit down with their authorities to define where to construct a new park or reclaim a public space without the minimum guarantee that their children can go out without being exposed to crime?”
Lucinda Vargas, the general director of Plan Estratégico de Juárez, a civic group, said that Mr. Calderón was at last beginning to take the right approach, combining a police solution with an emphasis on judicial reform and social programs.
“Initially they thought this could be a quick fix,” Ms. Vargas said. “They were surprised that we weren’t grateful enough.
“I’m not naïve to think this is going to end overnight,” she added. “If things are moving in the right direction, then that’s a threat to organized crime. When you see measures that work, you see a spike in violence. It’s that inflection point that I wonder where it’s going to be.”
Accompanied to Juárez by his wife, much of his cabinet and the United States ambassador to Mexico, Carlos Pascual, Mr. Calderón announced an expanded antipoverty program, along with scholarships to keep teenagers in high school, at an event in a school gymnasium.
He spent much of the afternoon in a hotel conference center listening to a recitation of the government’s programs from his cabinet, but got irritated responses from civic leaders.
Guadalupe Díaz Rodríguez, president of the local psychologists’ association, said the government’s statistics presented a “fabulous world that we don’t perceive.”
Mr. Calderón acknowledged that the violence was claiming innocent victims but defended what he said was incipient evidence of improvement.
Mr. Pascual’s presence underscored Washington’s growing involvement in the modified approach to Mr. Calderón’s war against drug traffickers. The Bush and Obama administrations have supported Mr. Calderón’s three-year campaign, supplying about $1.3 billion in military and law enforcement aid.
To continue its support, the Obama administration is expected to announce a $311 million plan for the expansion of joint intelligence units that concentrate on money laundering, as well as additional training for judges, prosecutors and the police.
And in a departure, American aid will also go toward strengthening community programs in poor neighborhoods. The Mexican director of the United States Agency for International Development visited Juárez last week to meet with civic groups.
The killings of the three people connected with the consulate — an American Consulate employee and her husband, along with the Mexican husband of another employee — bring a new urgency to the United States’ involvement in Mexico’s drug war.
The bodies of the slain American couple, Lesley A. Enriquez and Arthur H. Redelfs, were returned to El Paso on Tuesday. The investigation is following several lines, including the possibility of mistaken identity, said Special Agent Andrea Simmons, a spokeswoman for the F.B.I. field office in El Paso, which is helping Mexican investigators.
In Washington, there is increasing disenchantment with the results of the American aid, under what is known as the Mérida Initiative.
And in Villas del Salvarcar, where those who can have left, there is little hope that all the fuss will make any difference.
“What’s he coming here for?” Gerardo Domínguez, an unemployed deliveryman, said of the president. “He’s not coming to do anything.”
Click to view image: '93860b12897e-17juarez_337395popup.jpg'
Click to view image: 'da0db6fb2f99-15juarez_ca0popup1.jpg'
Click to view image: 'aab75f91aa4b-g3101015_640x427.jpg'
Tags: the war on drugs, mexico's president sucks, corruption, u.s drug's biggest consumer, corruption, killings
Location: Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico (load item map)
Marked as: approved
Views: 8107 | Comments: 12 | Votes: 0 | Favorites: 2 | Shared: 0 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 1
|Liveleak on Facebook|