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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

War Across the Border

Memories of my childhood are fading more and more. They seem so distant. I vaguely remember the smell of fresh apples from local orchards and putting on fluffy little girl dresses then going to festivals at our church or at my elementary school. I can no longer muster many details from my childhood in Canatlán, Durango but I do recall the specific feeling of community that enveloped me at my school and in my neighborhood. It has been several years since my last visit to Canatlán and with the escalating violence in the entire country of Mexico, I have no idea how much longer it will be until I can return.

El Universal newspaper reports that by January 11, 283 people died in 2010, more than double the figure from the same period last year. Three years ago the President of Mexico Felipe Calderón launched a military-focused offensive to target drug cartels. More than 16, 000 people have been killed in drug violence since then. This strategy is furthering inter-cartel violence as rival cartels are fighting for control of the lucrative drug routes into the United States. The cartels are also fighting the Mexican army, federal, state and local police. According to officials the vast majority of drug war victims are linked to the so called “underworld” or criminal world. About a tenth are law enforcement officials and although hard to believe, a small number are civilians caught in the cross fire.

No one is guaranteed safety as news outlets report on the numerous crimes; crimes that are often times so monstrous and shocking they make me wonder how these people can really exist. Not only are victims tortured before they are murdered, a lot of the time bodies are found with severed extremities.

Within the last year we received news about a relative who fell victim to such a crime. He was in his early 30s and in love. In love with a girl who belonged to the underworld and thought she had left it behind. I guess that was her mistake, thinking she could move on from such a lifestyle. They were both murdered, their bodies dumped in the outskirts of town. Her body showed severe signs of torture and it was presumed, like with other crimes of this sort, that they made him watch every minute of it. I can not even imagine the terror that was carried out that night. Two people stripped of their lives in such a cruel way. But just like them there have been many others, murdered in a similar manner and as the numbers escalate one seems to blur into the next.

There are those who are murdered because they are part of the drug world, but what about those completely unrelated? Among those at risk are journalists covering stories for local papers. Recently the body of a reporter was found alongside a note warning: "This is going to happen to those who don't understand that the message is for everyone." As drug cartel violence continues throughout Mexico, journalists may unintentionally become a part of their own story.
In this sense, is it worth the risk? If the media does not report what is going on, who is left to do so? Several news sources are censoring themselves to keep reporters safe, but in doing so they are not fulfilling their duty to inform the public.

I honestly do not have any ideas for a solution for this ever-escalating issue. It is extremely alarming that almost daily there are articles about drug violence in Mexico and although it is mostly between drug suspects, military or police, civilians are accidentally killed or mistakenly believed to be part of a cartel.

I wonder how much more blood must be shed before the world opens its eyes to an issue that is bigger than the country of Mexico.
-Yvette Olguin


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