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Oct 19th
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Breaking the Silence on Mexico PDF Print E-mail

Mexican Border - American Side

People of Ciudad Juárez offer a Lesson about Hope & Resistance

by Jessica Escobar

Asked about militarization on the US-Mexico border, I could produce a plethora of statistics about the rise of murders in Ciudad Juárez since President Calderón declared war on the cartels in 2008 and deployed 45,000 troops to various Mexican states (at least 5,000 in Ciudad Juarez alone). 

I could quote articles and feature pieces by the New York Times and NPR about Ciudad Juarez and its increasing violence.  I could direct you to the database of SOA graduates, where you’d find the names of the Chief of Police of Ciudad Juárez, along with at least 1/3 of the original members of the notorious Zeta cartel.  I could also talk to you about the United States’ shameful participation in funding this military presence via the Mérida Initiative, which authorized $1.6 billion over three years (2007-2010) and which was renewed last year.  I could tell you that despite being praised for his “war against the cartels” by Presidents Bush, Jr. and Obama, the suggestion that President Calderón is connected to the Sinaloa cartel, is common to citizens and activists in both El Paso and Juárez. 

But none of these facts is as poignant, terrifying, or tragic as what our delegation actually saw when we visited the border between the two beautiful cities of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.  If you really want to know how militarization is affecting Juarez and its people, you need only cross the border on foot, stand on a street corner, and wait.  At least once every minute, pickup trucks full of soldiers pass by, men in paramilitary attire, wearing all black, with helmets & black scarves covering their noses and mouths, with machine guns mounted on the back of the trucks, seemingly pointing everywhere and nowhere in particular.

Visit Villa Salvarcar, where in 2010, trucks full of still-unkown armed men entered, blocked off a street where high school & college students were partying, and massacred sixteen of them.  You can also talk to Guadalupe Melendez, whose son was falsely accused of this crime, tortured until he confessed, and who, despite outcries from human rights groups, still sits in prison today awaiting justice.  Meanwhile, the real perpetrators of this massacre have never been brought to justice.

Ask the parents of the 15 women who have disappeared since the beginning of 2012 alone.  Ask Ricardo about his daughter, and he will tell you she is a beautiful university student, and that nearly three years ago she disappeared from her university.  He has lost sleep and work for time spent searching for his daughter, because, in his words, “My daughter is not dead until I find her body.”

The United States and its people is, at best, complicit through its silence, and at worst, completely responsible.  We consume the majority of the world’s illegal drugs, and we put arms and money in the hands of cartels through programs like the Mérida Initiative and Operation Fast and Furious.

Our delegation had our hearts broken but also nourished by the hope and resistance of the people of Juarez.  Their courage in the face of an all-out war against them is inspiring, and we have walked away resolved to tell their story.  It’s time to break our silence and stand in solidarity with Mexico as it says “¡Ya Basta!” to this ridiculous and immoral war.

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Featured Article
Download the Spring 2016 issue of Presente

The Spring issue contains mobilizing information for the SOA Watch Border Convergence, which is taking place from October 7-10, 2016 at the US/Mexico border in Nogales, and also focuses on recent developments in Latin America and within the SOA Watch movement.

Click here to download a PDF version of the Spring 2016 issue.

As this issue of Presente went to print, our hearts were heavy. The assassination of our dear friend and comrade Berta Cáceres, and the increased repression against social movement groups, have left us shocked and saddened. SOA Watch Latin America liaison Brigitte Gynther traveled to Honduras the morning after she learned about the assassination and has been coordinating SOA Watch’s response together with our partner groups on the ground. If you do not already receive Urgent Action emails from us, please click here to sign up now.

The recent decision by the U.S. judge in North Carolina to extradite one of the perpetrators of the 1989 massacre at the University of San Salvador gives us hope that justice will prevail in the end. It will take all of us to create change! Please join us as we mobilize to the U.S./Mexico border from October 7-10, 2016!

Other articles in this issue cover a protest by SOA Watch in Chile against US bases in Latin America, the FBI surveillance of SOA Watch, updates from Colombia and Mexico, news about the first Border Patrol agent to receive training at WHINSEC, background information about Direct Action, the Youth Encuentro in Guatemala, and more.

Download this issue of Presente here.

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