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Model City

14 November 2010

Joshua Frens-String in Hemispheric Brief, on what may be a more important development in the proxy war on Mexican exports:

… recent student protests against the militarization of Ciudad Juarez are particularly noteworthy. The largest such protest came last week when over one thousand university students marched through the streets of Juarez (see an impressive video up at You Tube which documents the march) in response to the Oct. 29 shooting of student activist José Darío Alvarez Orrantia by the Federal Police. As independent journalist Kristin Bricker reported at the Huffington Post last week, that shooting occurred during the International Forum Against Militarization and Violence in Juarez, and just before Alvarez Orrantia was scheduled to speak on a panel about “Youthicide.”

Over the weekend, the nascent, and very vocal, student movement that is demanding social and economic improvements in Juarez, as well as the removal of the military, gained the renewed support of the Juarez human rights community. In a statement, rights groups, including the Centro de Derechos Humanos Paso del Norte, offered their full support to UACJ students while also demanding justice in the high profile shooting of Dario Alvarez.

As Frontera NorteSur puts it, the mass protests of last week represented “a university movement that hasn’t occurred in Ciudad Juarez since the beginning or middle of the 1980s.” “We are trying to find an exit,” one Juarez student activist tells the New Mexico State University-based news organization. “Nobody has a manual on how to survive a social war, on how to survive the war of a government that doesn’t want to listen, that doesn’t want to see what it is causing-especially in the young part of society.”

While killing a student at an anti-violence protest is ironic (and stupid and tragic and a lot of other things) and note-worthy, what is more interesting is that we are starting to see organized protests of “Calderón’s War” that can’t — as previous protests have been — be dismissed as “narco-influenced”.  The article by Kristen Brickler that Frens-String mentions concludes:

Juarez has been a laboratory where government officials have experimented new tactics and strategies in Mexico’s increasingly violent drug war.  The military occupied Juarez and relieved local police of their duties from March 2008 to April 2010, when Federal Police took over policing duties from the soldiers. Juarez’s mayor and the governor of Chihuahua, where Juarez is located, have sought advice and training from Colombian mayors and police.   Furthermore, a new phase of the US drug war aid package the Merida Initiative will reportedly focus on “institution building” and “rule of law” in Ciudad Juarez.

Despite the drastic measures, violence has only increased in Ciudad Juarez. The city now has the distinction of being the deadliest city in the world.

Laboratory?  Sending in the military to clamp down on civil activities not in the state’s interest is NOT experimental … it’s a tactic that’s been around for quelling civil unrest ever since states have had militaries to send.  The people of Juarez are not rats… nor are the students, who — understanding universities are the proper place for initiating laboratory research — are proposing a different, and perhaps more promising, field of investigation.

Worth noting is that the Hemispheric Brief post was entitled “Juarez Youth in Revolt”… and the students (I assume this includes some good students of history) are scheduling the ¡Griten Paz! for the centennial of the start of the last Revolution in this country kicked off by a norteño intellectual.


3 Comments leave one →
  1. Maggie permalink
    15 November 2010 1:17 am

    I was going to put this link up tomorrow –

    Problem is, these students are outgunned from all sides. I’m just not seeing this is anything like the late 60’s, are you? Unless of course, the whole thing is just crushed. We’ll see, but I’m doubtful this will go anywhere, particularly when the students are going to be torn apart by different political influences. We’ll see.

  2. 15 November 2010 4:42 am

    ¡Griten Paz! has the ring of what we heard in the 60s. Many of us who were there remember just how effective that was (not). The students mean well and I applaud them for at least trying to effect change. But the productive segment of the population (less productive every day) has to get more pesos circulating in the country so that peace has a hope. When the population has nothing to lose, peace has no hope. Sadly, we seem to be headed down that tarnished yellow brick road. What to do?

    ¡Manos a la obra! should be the battle cry. Until Mexico’s citizens can work together and resolve the issues facing the nation, we are going to have (PRI o PAN) “con lo mismo…”



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