Aerial Pictures of Cuidad Juarez, Mexico

Here is a few pictures I took as the airplane I was in flew over Ciudad Juarez, Mexico after taking off from El Paso International Airport just across the border in El Paso, Texas:

Aerial Picture Over Ciudad Juarez

If you look closely you can see the hill above Juarez that has writing on it.  The writing in Spanish says “Cd. Juárez – La Biblia Es La Verdad – Leela” which translate to “The Bible is the Truth”.  This message was painted by the evangelical pastor Gerardo Bermudez in 1987 and his church continues to maintain the upkeep of this message to this day:

Aerial Picture Over Ciudad Juarez

In this picture you can see some of the slums that lie on the west side of Juarez that are easily seen from US I-10 when driving into El Paso from the west side:

Aerial Picture Over Ciudad Juarez

The first time I drove into El Paso I thought these slums were in El Paso until I noticed the river and fences that denote the international border.  That is how close though these slums are to I-10 and the reason why the highways and roads in El Paso have been shut down before due to gun battles in Juarez that saw bullets flying over El Paso.

Here are the hills on the outskirts of the city where who knows how many bodies have been dumped in the past decade due to the ongoing drug wars and general lawlessness in the city:

Aerial Picture Over Ciudad Juarez

All in all though it is hard to imagine from the air how dangerous this city is which has seen more violence than Baghdad, Iraq or Kandahar, Afghanistan.  I actually visited Juarez over a decade ago when the drug war was not raging and found it to be an interesting place to check out while in El Paso.  Now flying over the city is about as close as want to get due to the outrageous violence that has engulfed the city.

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Murdered El Paso Couple Understood Risks of Juarez Travel

I hate to blame the dead when the cartel thugs are clearly responsible for this murder, but I have to admit that I was wondering why anyone would be driving around Juarez in a newer looking SUV especially with a baby?:

Arthur Redelfs and Lesley Enriquez knew traveling to Juárez was risky, their relatives said today.

But they went anyway on Saturday to a friend’s birthday party because that is the type of friend they were. They didn’t want to let their friends down by not going, the family said in a statement given exclusively to the El Paso Times.

“They knew there was so much violence across the border, but their friendships meant so much to them,” the statement said. “Both Lesley and Arthur had so many friends on both sides of the border.”

Gunmen killed them in Juárez as they drove back toward El Paso. Enriquez, 34, worked at the U.S. consulate in Juárez, casting international attention on the crime.  [El Paso Times]

It isn’t only the cartel violence you have to be concerned about in Juarez, but also just random thugs who carjack people especially a couple driving around a newer looking SUV, that you have to worry about down there as well.  I would never even walk down to Juarez much less drive through the middle of town in a vehicle with Texas license plates.

Anyway tragic case and hopefully the Mexican authorities can round up the thugs behind this killing.

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President Obama Responds to Murders of US Consulate Personnel in Juarez, Mexico

The violence in Juarez, Mexico just continues to get worse and worse with now even US consulate personnel not safe from attack:

However, after sustaining several gunshots, they drove onto oncoming traffic on Francisco Villa, and crashed into other vehicles. The man and wife were pronounced dead at the scene.

Police who rushed to the scene said they discovered a baby in the backseat of the Toyota; the baby was uninjured.

In the second attack, at almost the same time Saturday, police reported the shooting death of a man who is married to woman who works at the U.S. consulate in Juárez. He was shot at while driving on Avenida Insurgentes in the Segunda Burocrata neighborhood.

Mike Hammer, spokesman for the National Security Council, said in a statement Sunday that President Obama was outraged by the news of three murders.

“(Obama) extends his condolences to the families and condemns these attacks on consular and diplomatic personnel serving at our foreign missions,” he said. “In concert with Mexican authorities, we will work tirelessly to bring their killers to justice.”

A couple of weeks ago, the consulate received a bomb threat, but officials did not find anything after an exhaustive search of the building.

Mexican authorities did not know Sunday whether the attacks are related, or whether the victims were targeted because they worked for the consulate, which is an extension of the U.S. State Department.  [El Paso Times]

What really surprises me about this story is how exposed these consulate personnel are to attack.  You would think considering the violence in Juarez that they would have some kind of security detachment to get them back and forth from work in Juarez to their homes in El Paso?

More on the attack from:

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Did Prohibition Help Create Ciudad Juarez’s Shady Reputation?

Here is an interesting article that claims that Prohibition in the US is responsible for the shady reputation of Juarez, Mexico:

Prohibition in the United States drove Texas bars and brothels to the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez and helped create an image problem that Mexico’s murder capital has been unable to repair, according to a newly published book.

A total of 2,600 murders attributed to organized crime were committed last year in Juarez, home to almost 1.5 million inhabitants. By some measures, the gritty metropolis just across the Rio Grande from El Paso has the world’s highest homicide rate.

“El Paso had been a corrupt place since the end of the 19th century. The Puritans took control there and expelled everything that sullied the image of that area to the Mexican border (region),” Mexico’s Rutilio Garcia Pereyra, author of “Ciudad Juarez la fea” (Ugly Ciudad Juarez), told Efe.

He says the process was reinforced after World War I when the United States adopted Prohibition.

“After the dry laws, none of the 150 canteens that had once been in El Paso remained. All were moved to Juarez, where they continued to operate with the same owners and the same rationale,” the author said.

Garcia Pereyra, a professor at the Autonomous University of Juarez, the book’s publisher, conducted research for the work at the municipal archives of Ciudad Juarez and the University of Texas library.

Ciudad Juarez’s negative image was created by some conservative U.S. newspapers, whose editorials sought to spread “Puritan, Protestant and discriminatory ideas” and depict Mexicans as “a race with vulgar social customs,” the author said.

That stigma has “unfortunately … been passed down to our time” and has been exacerbated by the hundreds of killings and disappearances of women in the 1990s that gave the city a lot of bad press and notoriety, even though, according to Garcia Pereyra, the central state of Mexico “has more murders of women than Juarez.”  [Latin American Herald Tribune]

Read the rest at the link, but I think the US prohibition on marijuana today has also helped lead to violence in Juarez as well.  However, that shouldn’t be used as an excuse by the Mexican authorities to enforce law and order in their own town.

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13 Students Shot Dead at Party In Ciudad Juarez, Mexico

It is incredible to think that such violence like this is happening literally down the street and across a river from me:

GUNMEN drove up to a house where a high school party was in full swing and opened fire killing 13 people and wounding 17 others in Mexico’s murder capital, Ciudad Juarez.

Most of the victims were “youngsters”, the Chihuahua state attorney general’s office said.

Witnesses said the gunmen drove up to the house in several cars, first shooting at people gathered outside the dwelling, then pursuing some of the youngsters who jumped over a fence to get away.

“A young man was celebrating his birthday with his schoolmates … and when the host of the party came out to drop off his girlfriend” the shooting broke out, a neighbour said.

Local press reports said the party host’s father was among the dead.

Other sources said the young people were members of a local soccer team celebrating a championship victory, the Reforma daily said on its website.

The shooting took place in Ciudad Juarez, the city on the border with the US state of Texas that holds Mexico’s record in bloodshed, with more than 2500 people killed last year in drug-related gangland crimes.

It was the third mass shooting of youngsters in Mexico since September when, within two weeks, 28 youths were killed in two separate shootings at drug rehabilitation centres. [AFP]

The violence that continues to go on down in Juarez is getting worse and only the mass murders like this seem to make big headlines.  However, nearly every night I watch the local news before going to bed and it has near daily reports about executions, hangings, beheadings, etc. happening in Juarez.  This recent mass killing will eventually be forgotten as the news cycle moves on, but for those of us who live in El Paso this is just business as usual in Juarez.

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