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Cd. Juarez: oh yeah, life goes on…

9 September 2010

Jean Friedman-Rudovsky writes on Childhood in Juarez (Phoenix New Times):

… Lorenzo still wonders how the baby slept through the neighbors’ screams. The smell of gunpowder lingered in the air as Esteban, an eloquent, extroverted child, began to cry. His questions started right away and continued for days. “Do you think they had kids?” “Even if they did something wrong, they still didn’t deserve to die, right, Daddy?”

They are tough questions for a first-grader. Yet in Juárez, murder capital of the world, they have become commonplace…

Murder may be commonplace, but it doesn’t, by any means, mean murder is the ONLY thing that happens in Juarez, or how one should define Juarez.  Lourdes Cardenas (El Paso Times) brings attention to a less noted event, one that brings out much larger crowds than any crime scene:

For at least this month, Ciudad Juárez will try to be a regular city, one where people can attend massive concerts, go to the theater, attend a literature conference and take the family to different cultural events without fear.

The Sixth International Chihuahua Festival is bringing together more than 40 well-known Mexican and international artists, writers and musicians to provide citizens with an opportunity to enjoy their city like they used to not too long ago.

Some of the well-known names in the music arena that will perform in Cd. Juárez are Mexican-American singer Lila Downs, trombonist and bandleader Willie Colon (Azúcar!) and the musician from Mali, Salif-Keita. If you are a fan of the Cuban Buena Vista Social Club, you’ll have the opportunity to see and listen to the marvelous Omara Portuondo, one of the last few remaining voices of the famous ensemble. And if you grew up listening to the Nueva Trova Cubana, you surely would like to attend Silvio Rodríguez’s massive concert in the Olympic Stadium-Benito Juarez. Perhaps you, as well as myself, will revive good memories listening his music.

The festival also features the conference “Literatura en el Bravo,” which will bring authors from El Paso, Mexico, Spain, Venezuela, Colombia and the Caribbean countries to talk about writing and books. There will be 23 roundtable sessions with more than 40 writers, so you should have plenty of topics to choose from.

Clearly, to organize a festival as ambitious as this one represents a big effort by the cultural authorities of Chihuahua. According to poet Jorge Humberto Chávez, in previous years more than 1,500 people have attended just the literature conference alone, a figure that speaks for itself about the interest of the Chihuahuenses in cultural events. It is estimated that the previous festivals have attracted more than two million people to its different events.

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