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Majo Siscar · Fotos: Raúl Ibáñez · Traslation: Blanca G. Bertolaza
  • Ciudad Juarez is the most violent city in the world with a murder rate of 240 per every 100,000 inhabitants
  • However, in the midst of this death spree, the citizens look for ways to heal their wounds and prevent the violence from rising in the absence of action from the authorities.

Memorial for the women dead in Juarez in the border bridge between this city and the US. Raúl Ibáñez

In the midst of the spiral of violence that affects Mexico some places are much more hazardous than others. Ciudad Juarez is one of them.  It has the dubious honor of being the most violent city in the world. In the last four years almost 10,000 people have been murdered, one fourth of all the drug trafficking-related murders in the country. The figures are outrageous all over the country, but Juarez reached in 2010 a rate of 240 violent deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, more than triple the deaths that take place in El Salvador, the bloodiest country in Latin America. However, in the midst of this death spree, life looks for its ways. Although about 300,000 people have left the city because of the insecurity, more than a million still fight to survive in this town, marked by being right on the border with the US.

This dividing line has been its source of wealth but also the root of its worst tragedies. In the 80’s the maquilas, manufacturing factories dedicated to export, that took advantage of the cheap labor and the proximity to the US, began concentrating there. The economic development that followed attracted migrants from all over the country. In the 90’s, Juarez was the zero-unemployment town. The possibility of work made the authorities not worry about creating some minimum well-being and the city grew without the proper services or infrastructures. Juarez also became the US’s backyard, not just because the factories were located there but because Americans from the South crossed the border every day to have wild fun, drawn by the cheap alcohol, drugs and sex. Trafficking networks started to flourish in the midst of a climate of impunity and a huge contempt for life and the female gender. In 1993 a group of mothers raised the alarms when they denounced 300 feminicides of young women, kidnapped, raped, mutilated and murdered in the city’s surroundings. And since 2008, when the Mexican government deployed the Army to fight against organized crime, the disappearances and murders of women have multiplied. In the last three and a half years, 903 more women have been murdered and another hundred have disappeared state-wide. Mónica Alanís Esparza is one of them. On the morning of March 26th, 2009, her father, Ricardo Alanís dropped her off like every other day at the University of Ciudad Juarez, where Mónica studied Business Administration.

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