Saturday, June 25, 2011

ciudad juarez: murder capital of the world


Video - Faultlines documentary on the war on drugs - life is cheap in Juarez.

aljazeera | "People in Amsterdam aren't stuffing headless bodies in the trunk of a car, or hanging dead bodies from bridges," he tells Al Jazeera, an image seen far too often in Mexico.


Al Jazeera's Faultlines explores the violent effects of the 'War on Drugs' on the Mexico-US border region

The city of Juarez, on the border of El Paso, Texas, sees about 3,000 murders every year - no thanks to tight drug policies, says Gibler.

"Illegality has done nothing to stop [the violence], but has done the opposite - fuelling it by creating the profit margins associated with that much wealth," he told Al Jazeera.

Charles Bowden, an investigative journalist and author of Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy's New Killing Fields, told Al Jazeera's Faultlines : "If you want to know one of the biggest causes of death in Mexico, it is the American drug prohibition."

"Al-Qaeda couldn't do to Juarez what the US government's done," he added.

Beyond sky-high murder rates, Gibler told Al Jazeera that border violence stemming from the drug war has an ugly and much deeper reach.

"The rate of almost every other kind of violent crime in Mexico has shot up, which is because of two things. On the one hand it's the drug trafficking organisations expanding into other areas. On the other hand, it's a result of this overwhelming climate of impunity, where people think that they can get away with it; and so many times, the cops are actually or tangentially involved [in the murders]."

In a country where, according to a confidential 2010 report turned over to the Mexican Senate by the Attorney General, only five per cent of murders are investigated, "it issues a kind of post-mortem death sentence, [where] anyone who ends up dead on the street corner is guilty of their own murder", said Gibler.

Given the level of violence, decriminalising small-scale possession or even sales would probably not affect a major difference in Mexico's border region.

Alternatively, Gibler suggests all-in parameters for curbing violence.

"Decriminalisation can't just be at the end point for the users, but it needs to somehow have a regulation package that recognises the entire industry."

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