Wednesday, December 8, 2010

An Open letter from El Diario

Ciudad Juárez's daily newspaper explains Mexico's conflict, beseeches the United States to change its policy, and mourns the deaths of its own.



Rarely has a publication been so close to the front lines of Mexico's ongoing turmoil than El Diario, the 35-year-old daily newspaper published in one of the hubs of the violence, Ciudad Juárez. Three journalists have so far been murdered, their cases unsolved. On Dec. 7, the publication's editor and publisher, Osvaldo Rodríguez Borunda, released this letter. Excerpts are published below, edited for space and clarity.


BY OSVALDO RODRÍGUEZ BORUNDA
Foreign Policy
El Diario

Thirty-five years ago, El Diario de Ciudad Juárez printed its first issues out of very modest facilities and with an initial distribution of just 200 copies.

Twenty-five years ago, we began to notice the beginnings of what at that time was known as the Juárez cartel, a phenomenon that we considered a huge threat to our borderlands even though the drug-trafficking industry already had a strong presence in our state. El Diario began investigating and publishing on its own, at the local level, assuming all risks associated with reporting on the growing drug-trafficking industry -- an industry which was neither removed from, nor isolated from, the greater socioeconomic situation that was evolving along the border with the United States.

When El Diario was born at the start of 1976, the maquiladora industry, export assembly factories designed to give jobs to thousands of unemployed men who ended up in these borderlands, had already been growing for ten years. Originally conceived as a transitory part of the productive sector, which would eventually give way to the development of a national industrial sector, the maquiladora industry never made that qualitative jump. And, unfortunately for Juárez, it never progressed past being an industry of assembly for large U.S. companies. The maquiladora industry became a gold mine for a small number of local businessmen and unethical politicians who took advantage of its existence not only for their own monetary enrichment, but also in order to steer the growth of the city toward large tracts of land that they owned, leading to the disorderly and corrupt expansion of the city.

Certainly, the maquila sector brought an economic boom to the city, but this turned into a treasure for only a few and did not favor human and social development crucial for harmonious growth. Therefore, a number of social conflicts emerged, exacerbated by a lack of infrastructure which, together, boiled over into the generalized problems that we are living with today. Each year, thousands of immigrants arrived to these borderlands, attracted by the promise of employment in the maquila industry, to live instead with all the city's deficiencies and inequalities, to take over the [economic and social] periphery, to expand the informal sector … to expand the nest that served to incubate a drug-trafficking industry as it continued to grow stronger.

The Juárez cartel got part of its nourishment from the social and economic ailments of the city, but even more so from its infiltration into the police forces and the Army. When Mexican President Álvaro Obregón stated almost a hundred years ago that "There is not a General who can resist a canon shot of fifty thousand pesos," he knew what he was talking about. We are not accusing the military institution as such, but rather pointing out that for years, we in the media have publicized cases of military personnel, including officers, accused of collaborating with organized crime.

What is certain is that in México, and in particular in Ciudad Juárez, we are facing a situation that is so complicated that, over the last four years since President Felipe Calderón declared war on organized crime, both the police force and the military have demonstrated that they are not prepared to confront an enemy whose size and strength they knew little about.

It is for these reasons, too, that the joint operations carried out against delinquent groups -- operations that suffered from a lack of coordination, negligence, and corruption of those who were heading them -- also failed. El Diario has grown tired from the numerous times it has questioned such joint operations in its pages.

Unfortunately, the current war in Ciudad Juárez, which is covered extensively in the pages of our newspaper, has taken its quota of blood from us through the deaths of three of our colleagues.

The first was Dr. Víctor Manuel Oropeza, murdered in 1991 because of the content of one of his editorials. He continues to be listed in the directory of our newspaper because the crime which resulted in his death has never been resolved.

The murder of Armando Rodríguez Carreón, a reporter who worked the organized crime beat, followed on November 13, 2008. In the two years since his murder, we have received an infinite number of promises from both the state and the federal governments that the case will be resolved soon, but that has not yet happened. His murderer or murderers continue to enjoy impunity.

And lastly, photographer Luis Carlos Santiago was shot to death just this past September 16. His case is also stalled.

El Diario has invited Mr. Gustavo Salas Chávez, the police director in charge of investigating crimes against journalists, to visit us in Ciudad Juárez and inform us about the progress in the cases of our three colleagues. So far, we have not been able to arrange for his visit.

The suffering of our community, as well as the blood spilled by our reporters, appears to finally have focused the world's attention on Juárez with a different vision, with an outcry that continues to grow, that demands a stop to this barbarism, and calls for the implementation of actions and strategies [to combat the violence] different from those used before.

Some North American journalists are of the opinion that if the U.S. Army were to intervene in México, the drug cartels could be stopped. Nothing could be further from the truth. If the U.S. military were to directly interfere in our national territory, it would give organized crime organizations the tools they need to convert their members into guerrillas. Criminals would be converted into soldiers, while their leaders could appeal to nationalism and to the historic yoke that the United States has held over México. This type of solution would be the most dangerous possible because our country would be totally devastated. It is not because of a false sense of nationalism that we are opposed to this alternative; rather, we simply do not believe that it would work.

No. The solution must come from México and from its society -- though it's clear that the U.S. government should participate, because the problem has two sides.

The measures adopted by both countries are insufficient. The United States has gotten involved by crafting programs such as the Mérida Initiative, with its rickety scope, and by pressuring the Mexican state to detain the heads of the various organized crime groups -- without helping to fix the grave social problems this causes in our country. These measures actually do very little to decrease its internal market: the largest consumer market for drugs in the world. So long as the United States refuses to recognize that the majority of the problems can be found there, as can most of the solutions, it is highly doubtful that the scenario we now face in Mexico will change.

Meanwhile, President Calderón has not focused clearly or closely on this situation. As we have reiterated in our editorial spaces, the Mexican leader not only has not been able to decisively confront organized crime, but he has also given in to orders from the United States to use a punitive strategy, the consequences of which we are all aware.

And so here we find ourselves, in the middle of a conflict we did not ask for but which has swept us all up in its force, including those of us who are charged with informing the public in the midst of the danger.

México and the United States are countries with two very different cultures. Even if the consumption of some drugs were to be legalized in our country, we cannot forget that we have millions of young people who do not study and do not work, 100,000 of them in Ciudad Juárez alone. The fight against drugs must be accompanied by a strong strategy to repair the social fabric and to rescue all of these young people from continuing to be the breeding ground for organized crime.

When journalists from other places visit us, as they often do, we need them to take their time to investigate what is really happening in Juárez. We need them not to remember what they hear only from malicious or uninformed people. Because published words, as we all know, can build up or destroy. And in Juárez, we need all the help we can get to get out of the hole we are in.

Osvaldo Rodríguez Borunda

Publisher and editor

El Diario de Juárez

23 comments:

  1. You are right...it needs to come from Mexico the investment in the youth and social structure to improve lives and give hope for a real future with a paying job...and the US needs to fight the problems here much harder and admit its problems and confront them headon here at home with our own demise of moral decline....I love the Mexican people I have known and still know....and my heart aches for the country which has always been 50 years behind compared to other countries in the villages....I am angry at the Mex politicians and wealthy and the church who don't invest in the small people and now they are paying for it....it can happen here to, but it must be with education, faith and a good strong middle class....not a strong rich and poor class....I lived in Spain in the fifties and Mexico is still behind where they were at under a dictator in many areas....I don't understand it....it just makes me angry at all of us on both sides of every border...you can't ignore need ....you just can't.....you can't live with such high class comfort and not realize the masses of the neglected poor won't rise up some day....I have been there and know it to be true....I don't go as a tourist, I go where the real people are and struggle. The only rich who live without guilt are the bad guys....the good people with money better wake up and start investing in the children of the country....their education....

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  2. YES, Calderon is a US puppet dictator...

    '...President Calderón has not focused clearly or closely on this situation. As we have reiterated in our editorial spaces, the Mexican leader not only has not been able to decisively confront organized crime, but he has also given in to orders from the United States to use a punitive strategy, the consequences of which we are all aware.'

    Trying to use violence against violence has been what has already stoked this increasingly ugliness of the so-called and pretend 'war on drugs'. This is no war on drugs at all, but just another war from the US government and its military fed with lies to the publics of our two countries. The US government seemingly only knows punitive force and nothing else in solution to anything. Its military-industrial complex feeds off the economic welfare brought to its ricos of this violent philosophy.

    Ernest1

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  3. But where are the solutions?
    This article is a perfect of example of just how impossible this situation is.

    The solution must come from Mexico.
    OK, what?
    What should they do?
    Give everyone jobs, make the poor people not be poor anymore, stop the "punitive" approach against the cartels, change the entire social structure of Mexico, get rich people to really, really care about the poor people, take help from the United States BUT only the right kind of help at just the right amount.
    Sounds like quite a plan.

    Then the United States.
    It shouldn't get involved, except where it should.
    The solution should come from Mexico, except only through some kind of action on the part of the US will this stop.
    And the US should acknowledge its drug problem.
    How?
    A press conference where President Obama says "we are a nation of junkies?"
    And then?
    A big wall between the US?
    Mandatory drug tests for the entire citizenry?
    Prisons?
    No prisons, that doesn't work.
    Legalize marijuana?
    What would that look like, really?
    Would these cartels be made legal business men by legalization?
    Or would the industry be taken out of their hands forcing them to fight for scraps of the meth and cocaine, human trafficking and extortion schemes?

    Maybe a time machine and a magic wand?

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  4. @ Emelia E

    Who are you to talk down about the people of mexico in your uninformed tirade? Talking about drug testing every citizen, should we began with the US first? The largest consumer of drugs in the world? I am not letting Mexico off from huge responsibilty but its people have been subjected to greeat corruption from the municipal to the federal level. Unless you have lived here and know how helpless Mexicans are, or educated yourself you will remain ignorant, but do not condem people that you know nothing about. Come stay with us for a while, live and work with us, work in a charity to help create the change you so easily slam as needed.

    Who are your questions thrown at? Solutions? Solutions are to help at any level you can. Began with the woman in the mirror big mouth.

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  5. @Amelia E
    "The solution must come from Mexico.
    OK, what?
    What should they do?"

    Great questions.. I thought the same.

    The current violence is the ripest fruit of Mexico's culture of corruption.

    This new group, Estemos Unidos Mexicanos seems to be a step in the right direction. They speak of neighborly bonding. But, it needs to go beyond that. There needs to be the "Good Samaritan" neighborly love that permeates Mexico's cities and societies, not the typical 'te chingo a ti antes que me chingues a mi' attitude. There has to be a proactive love. A group like EUM can be the beginning.

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  6. Few solutions and lots of rhetoric. Mr Borunda shuld know small quantities of drugs are already legal in Mexico. Early in the story he does not want US help and later he does, which is it Mr Borunda? I posted a longer response last night but it must have been ignored. Oddly it was not far off from what Amelia had to say.

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  7. Enough with blaming the government and the CHURCH for what is going on with youths in Mexico. Goodness people when will you accept responsibility for failing as a parent? How in the hell is it the fault of the government or even worse the Church? My parents grew up dirt poor in one of the worst neighborhoods of Monterrey NL Mx. and they never tried drugs or gangs! They didn't go after the government looking for handouts either, instead they focused on making money (by working extremely hard) day and night to make ends meet. They succeeded and have done extremely well in life, so why can't others?

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  8. A Mexican editorial comes out against US military intervention and all the Right Wing dittoheadds reading BB immediately come out frothing at their mouths, saying that the writer supposedly has no solutions to Mexico's problems because he has opposed greater US penetration (YES-PENETRATION) into his country. Here is one such example from BB reader, Sir Anonymous, of how these US Right Wing supporters for greater US military intervention play their little games with us...

    'Few solutions and lots of rhetoric. Mr Borunda shuld know small quantities of drugs are already legal in Mexico. Early in the story he does not want US help and later he does, which is it Mr Borunda?'

    HE WANTS the US to help Mexico by keeping its military out of his country. Simple enough. PLUS.... He also wants the US to help Mexico out by not looting his country economically which it has done through the maquiidora industry that American companies helped destroy Juarez economically through. Thus he speaks of ...

    'Certainly, the maquila sector brought an economic boom to the city, but this turned into a treasure for only a few and did not favor human and social development crucial for harmonious growth.'

    The editorial asks for productive US economic 'assistance' and not one designed to help loot Mexico while leaving it in poverty. The US Right Wingers froth at the mouth when they hear such from those ungrateful people down South! Don' those Mexicans know just how nice and sweet the USA is? they lash out!

    Ernest1

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  9. emilia

    These are the same old questions that have been answered countless times. In Mexico fear grips and premeates throughout society, it entrapes the good people of Mexico. the common citizen has no power. No arms to bear. A corrupt government assuring the classes remain separate and carefully create a system to maintain that lower class. In this case it has backfired, because what it also delvoped was a huge pool of young ersons without education or employment possibilties. These are the recruits for organized crime. easy pickens. The entire system must be overhauled and redesigned so that there is some semblance of parity in opportunity.

    I have a huge problem with any person that posts nothing but ridicule and a series of questions, it is fine to be ignornat, but if you really want to know why it is, then study the sturcture of the society, history and government.

    The people of Mexico are good, honest hardworking people, rules but corruption and crime and they feel powerless and fearful. Children talk of their father or couson or uncles "dissappearing" or seeing a body in the street of their homes gutted for the world to see which included the 9 year old child who told me the story, and also said not to tell her mother as she would be in trouble for breaking the "big law" not to sepak of drug activity. pretent it does not exist even to teachers or classmates.

    do not judge, and your comment of drug testing was beyond ignorant it was insulting. Mexico has a tiny drug rate, check out the states and compare. However maybe you think they should also be tested? you and your children? Youe mother and father?

    you better seek compassion because this cancer is seeping into your country

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  10. Ernest1

    What do you suggest Calderon do since he is not to fight violence with violence, according to you?

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  11. Good grief.
    I was talking about drug testing in the United States and was, of course, being facetious.

    The writer said that the United States needed to acknowledge its drug use.
    That's fine.
    My point is, exactly how will that help this situation?
    How exactly can the United States keep its people from consuming the drugs that Mexico is exporting?
    Obviously, it can't.

    So then, legalize the drugs.
    Then what?
    I have yet to hear a reasonable outline of exactly how the US legalizing marijuana would address the problems Mexico is now facing.

    Lord have mercy.

    Hermana Rebecca and Jessenia- we are actually on the same side here. I do understand how helpless most Mexican people are feeling. My own family has left their homes in Reynosa and also a ranch near Nuevo Progreso.

    Its simply frustrating that there seem to be no real solutions presented by politicians nor the media.

    There is only talk about what does not work.
    Telling the United States that it can help by NOT sending US troops is not a solution.

    And Ernest, no one here seems to want the US military to be involved.
    I certainly don't.

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  12. Amelia don't get to worked up about it. These people are just looking for someone to blame other than themselves.
    True the US does have some blame but no where near the blame they want to put on us.
    The US has always had a drug problem, especially in the 70's and 80's, so why no voilence in Mexico then? 90's? The reason is because the Govt. was working with the Cartels, they were all bought off and corrupt. Now that Calderon has shaken the hornets nest, all hell has broken loose. The only thing that Calderon did wrong was to misjudge the level of corruption that exists in Mexico. Other than that, the man will be a hero for ridding Mexico of this plague.

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  13. I agree with Amelia, no one here wants our troops in Mexico, nor do the troops want to go there. We have enough going on in other parts of the world to be worrying about Mexico. However due to the proximity to our borders we have to take some interest in the matter, like it or not.

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  14. "The solution must come from México and from its society"

    I completely agree. I am tired of being forced to support Mexico through law enforcement support when the people of Mexico continually enslave themselves either under socialists or criminals. Please stop taking my tax money, man up and take responsibility for your own society. Actually understand that your rights come from GOD not government and you have these rights to allow you to fulfill YOUR DUTIES. If you do not fulfill these duties then you lose those rights and deserve the consequences. Man up and start protecting yourselves and stop thinking you are entitled to have other people (your government or the Americans) to protect you.

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  15. There exists law and order in the US,there is a functioning judiciary,in the US,Mexico must not only develop effective institutions but also create hope and opportunity for its citizens. We all know that the US is and has been a country of opportunity why has Mexico not modeled itsself to be the same? Look at what China has done in the last 40 years economically. Work ethic ambition pride of accomplishment will lift any person or country but it must be encouraged by the govermental policies.

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  16. "Look at what China has done in the last 40 years economically. Work ethic ambition pride of accomplishment will lift any person or country "

    So will murdering 60 million of your opponents. China is the modern day National Socialists and one of the most murderous regimes in history. You are an idiot for using China in a favorable comparison.

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  17. @ Ernest1
    You will be disappointed to know that I am not a "right winger" amigo. Further I did not say I wanted any US miltary involvement. I do think a complete house cleaning of the politicians in Mexico would be a good start to a long term solution. I don't see the Mexican people marching in the streets to affect change. Make no mistake I am disgusted with the current lot of democrats in DC as they seem to be doing their best to cater to every special interest group known to man and give our country away. I also oppose illegal immigration based on the fact that the people coming here are simply bringing their problems with them but are unwilling to adopt a new way of life, they want the fruits but they do not want to help grow the tree. Mexico's main problem is everyone has their hand out or is too uneducated to know where to make a start towards change. And yes, they can thank the wealthy elite the Catholic church and crooked politicians (they elected) along with being largely uneducated for both problems, these issues have long kept the people of Mexico under their thumb. This may be a bit harsh sounding to some but it is true. I have empathy but am passed feeling sorry for the country as a whole, it does no good and it promotes more of the same behavior. The narco wars are but a symptom of a larger problem, there are many politicians and men of industry who have comprimised their values for the sake of greed, their concerns fall aside when they are getting paid. I am active in my community, I have a voice, I write letters to my members of congress, I work hard at raising my children beyond providing food and shelter for them, I teach values and I allow them to suffer the consequences of poor decision making as a means of teaching them a lesson, and I take a stand for what is good and true. I know many fine people in Mexico, the problem is the ignorant and/or greedy far outnumber the people who are wiling and able to bring about change, this is a direct result of years of the same old thing. The US is suffering the decline of our own middle class for the same reasons, we have all the self entitled people expecting hand outs on one side and the corporate robbers on the other with nothing left in the middle it seems. Mexico has no middle class by our standards and the US is well on its way to the same fate unless people stand up and fight. If the people in Mexico would work as hard at building communities as they did at normal everyday labor jobs they might see their country take a turn for the better. And unless Mexico's people demand better by taking action the options for solutions are less than ideal. The US went into Iraq and as far as I can tell it did not change much at all, the same can be said for Afghanistan. It is my hope that the Mexican people find their swords and their courage, the banners this week were a good start that should be built upon. The US government can spend all the money they want in Mexico but until the people in Mexico want and are willing to work for a better way of life it will never materialize. I find it odd that many forget it was Spain and the Catholic church who started this spiral in Mexico several hundred years ago in their quest for gold and souls. Being the victim has long been the status quo in Mexico. The bottom line is either Mexico cleans up their act soon or the US will have no choice but to intervene, and that will cost Mexico in many ways, like it or not it is the reality.

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  18. ***AVISO***

    any who disagrees with ernst t , is a right winger and should shoot themselves..he abhors violence until it come to those who disagree...correct ernie?...you do remember telling me i should "blow my brains out" don't you?

    just like you are here to remind us of the violent policys of the USA...i am here to remind you of your own hypocrisy


    if the USA got involved i think the narcos would wrap themselves in the Mexican flag....all that would be required to be a patriot would be to resist the Americans...that could make a lot of patriots...i could see over night some of the worst narcos becoming field generals...

    the USA should stay out of it ..Mexico has the resources...they just need the will and organization...

    we need to guard our own borders do something about our dope problem and let Mexico solve it's own problems

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  19. Go, Amelia! You rock!

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  20. A brief answer to this question asked of me just earlier...

    'Ernest1 What do you suggest Calderon do since he is not to fight violence with violence, according to you?'

    First off, Calderon and his political party, the PAN, are themselves major fomenters of violence, and I am sorry that you are rather seemingly ignorant of that. One decade of PAN rule and the situation for Mexico is now even worse than it was under the PRI dictatorship! That is an incredible accomplishment, is it not? But it is the absolute truth!

    The fraudulent winner of a stolen election, which is what Calderon exactly is, is hardly ever going to be the agent for bringing about any peace from drug cartels and their infighting. Calderon is not capable of implementing real national security for Mexico's people, but is only capable of enabling the US to further entrench the US government into causing greater poverty and bloodshed for Mexico. Calderon is their puppet love.

    So what do I suggest Calderon actually do instead of increasing the growing level of violence in Mexico? How about just asking him to RESIGN immediately for the good of the Mexican people? That would work!

    Ernest1

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  21. @ ernst 1


    so now i see you have had enough ..good so now you will dejeme en paz ..bien

    proves my point to fight fire with fire...and now that i and others have set your ass on fire ..you will play nice, and desist with the personal attacks

    good

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  22. Brilliant!

    Ernest has finally presented a plan to eradicate this madness from Mexico.

    Calderon should resign.
    That will really fix things.

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  23. Amelia smugly thinks that a resignation by Calderon would solve absolutely nothing and berates me for suggesting that it would. However, so many on BB never thought two seconds about Mexican politics until the drug war thing began to titillate them like a real life lucha libre match does with basically apolitical folk. There are multiple problems in Mexico, and the drug cartels are actually a minor part of the over all mess that Mexico's robbing elites, with the US totally behind them, are causing the Mexican people.

    Amelia is a supporter of Caldron and PAN and the US internationalized drug war, and has not even a clue that the system is not delivering now for most Mexicans, nor in fact, for most Americans up North. Her old lack of thinking or knowledge of the political factors leading to wide spread poverty and hopelessness in both our countries leads her only to think that a get tough policing and military approach can ever accomplish anything positive at all. What her approach alone does is cause a worsening situation though, and not a better future.

    Ernest1

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