TIJUANA, Mexico — This year was particularly tough for the already rough border city of Tijuana, besieged by drug violence and slammed by the economic downturn in the United States.
So far, more than 300 people have been killed in turf battles between rival drug traffickers and shootouts between gangs and federal security forces. Scores of bodies are buried in paupers' graves after not being claimed by their families.
Fear dominates life here. The violence has kept away thousands of revelers from across the U.S. border in San Diego who once flocked here to party at nightclubs along its main strip. Discos and bars that remain open often are empty, with strippers performing to bored employees.
Meanwhile, the city continues to swell with the unemployed. About 10,000 people have been laid off from factories that manufacture U.S. goods for export and that are suffering from the global financial crisis.
Tijuana also receives a large portion of Mexican deportees from the United States. Many arrive with no money to get back to their native towns in the interior of Mexico and wind up begging on the streets.