Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Juárez Students, Teachers Fight Fear

Juárez students, teachers fight fear to attend classes.

El Paso Times


Guillermo Asiain, of the organization Jovenes Por Juarez, rallied the marchers as they began to gather at Chamizal Park in Juarez.

They live in constant fear. They feel powerless. But life must go on.

As the violence escalates around them and touches their lives, students at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez say they remain focused on their studies despite the savage war between ruthless drug cartels.

The unrelenting war has claimed the lives of more than 2,400 people this year, making Juárez one of the deadliest cities in the world.

Several university students and professors have fallen victim to sicarios, or hit men. Many women college students have simply disappeared.

More and more students witness shootings, assaults and kidnappings, and hear about their friends and family members facing extortion. Some even become victims and consider themselves lucky to have survived the ordeal.

Araceli Ramirez, 19, an odontology student, considers herself fortunate. She was recently attacked and robbed in front of her house by a male assailant.

The man was arrested but she will never forget the feeling of hopelessness.

"You can't call for help. You can't move. You can't do anything because they threaten your life," said Ramirez. "What you have to do is do what they tell you and that's it. It's sad. You get a feeling of desperation."

Ramirez, who on a recent late evening was on campus studying for final exams, said college life has drastically changed. She can't leave her house without thinking there is a possibility she might not return home, even when she's going to school.

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