‘City of the dead’ begins fightback against gangs

Financial Times, 3/14/2009

Military Checkpoint in Juarez
Military Checkpoint in Juarez

There is no curfew yet in Ciudad Juárez, a bleak and sprawling border city in Mexico’s northern desert, but the atmosphere is distinctly reminiscent of martial law.

Masked federal policeman roadblocks on the main streets. At the border crossings, soldiers with automatic rifles search cars entering from El Paso, Texas.

The heavy military presence is the latest response of the administration of Felipe Calderón, the president, to a rise in drug-related violence that has turned Juárez into just about the most dangerous place on Earth. Last month, more civilians were murdered in the city of 1.6m than in Baghdad.

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With Force, Mexican Drug Cartels Get Their Way

New York Times, 2/28/2009

juarez-policeWith Ciudad Juárez and the surrounding state of Chihuahua under siege by heavily armed drug lords, the federal government last week ordered the deployment of 5,000 soldiers to take over the Juárez Police Department. With the embattled mayor’s full support, the country’s defense secretary will pick the next chief.

Chihuahua, which already has about 2,500 soldiers and federal police on patrol, had almost half the 6,000 drug-related killings in all of Mexico in 2008 and is on pace for an even bloodier 2009. Juárez’s strategic location at the busy El Paso border crossing and its large population of local drug users have prompted a fierce battle among rival cartels for control of the city.

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Mexico rejects US drugs warning

BBC, 2/27/2009

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has rejected US concern that his country could become a failed state because of a growing wave of drug violence. Mr Calderon, in an interview with the Associated Press, said the cartels did not control any part of his country.

Last month, the US military singled out Mexico and Pakistan as two countries most at risk of sudden collapse. More than 1,000 people are reported to have been killed in Mexico so far this year as gangs battle over lucrative drug routes into the US. But President Calderon said that Mexico’s territorial integrity, unlike Colombia’s, was still intact.

To say that Mexico is a failed state is absolutely false. I have not lost any part, any single point, of the Mexican territory,” he said.

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