The War Next Door

Dispatches from Ciudad Juarez, the global economy’s new killing fields

| July-August 2010

  • War Next Door illo

    Jaime Puebla / Archivolatino

  • War Next Door illo

The man on the screen wears a long black veil. His voice is penetrating, his hands are strong with thick fingers. He is telling of his work, killing people for money, a trade he pursued with some success for 20 years. Another man watches the film with rapt attention. He is a fugitive from Mexico who now lives in the United States. The reason he left is simple: He had to pay a $30,000 ransom for his 1-year-old son, this on top of the $3,000 a month he was paying for simple protection.

I don’t ask him whom he was paying because he probably does not know. People with guns, maybe drug people or simple criminals, maybe the police or the army. People with guns inspire belief because he knows of others who failed to pay and then died.

He stares at the screen and says, “I know him. He’s a state policeman.”

He’s right.

The man on the screen was recruited by the drug industry in Ciudad Juarez and sent to the state police academy. He was also trained by the FBI in Tucson (he told me the training was very good) and headed an anti-kidnapping squad in Juarez. He also kidnapped people, almost all of whom died once their families were drained of money.

I helped make the film the man is watching, and he knows this. He is mesmerized by the man talking. And he is angry at me, because I know such a man, someone like the killers who took his son and sold him back for some money. Fortunately.

2/11/2011 9:12:26 AM

TRUE EFFECTS OF THE WAR ON DRUGS Dear friends, I am trying to raise awareness about what is going on here in Juarez. If it serves your interests please share the links below; if not, please excuse my nerve and kindly disregard this message. I have spoken before students and professors; If you are interested, I can offer a presentation. Guillermo Cervantes, Ph. D. Ciudad Juárez, 2008-2010, A photographic testimony of our pain:

Marisha Hicks
6/21/2010 12:44:37 PM

sorry-- HAS been, not HAVE been

Marisha Hicks
6/21/2010 12:27:14 PM

Thank you for printing the article entitled The War Next Door. Being an El Pasoan, I have witnessed the issues first hand and feel there has been a lack coverage in the media. Even more frightening I feel like everyone, including citizens of border towns, have been left in the dark about what is really going on. Thank you for giving me more truthful information.

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