Monday, July 19, 2010

Mexico: Weekend, bloody weekend

With apologies to U2, the past few days have seen an escalation of violence in Mexico including a novel act of brutality by drug gangs.

At least 18 people died in the northern city of Torreon after armed gunmen mowed down revelers celebrating a birthday party. “They shot anything that moved,” mentioned one police source to a local paper after the brazen attack yesterday. Thus far authorities have no known motive for the incident in the city that according to the New York Times “has become a battleground in the drug war as a transit point to the United States.”

The shooting comes on the heels of clashes between police and drug gangs that left twelve people dead. Late on Thursday a car bombing killed four people near police headquarters in Ciudad Juarez, reportedly the first of its kind. The bombing was said to be retaliation by traffickers against the recent arrest of a senior gang member.

These incidents have led to shock and indignation among Mexicans such as El Universal columnist Ricardo Aleman. “Not only have we run out of adjectives to describe the (Torreon) massacre…but in there is no antecedent in this world to explain and define this sort of violence,” he wrote. For others the spate in violence has brought more trauma and fear to a country struggling against increased lawlessness:
“We were already living with fear, but the kind of fear you have when living in a city that has a volcano or earthquake [risk], the kind of fear that is in the back of your mind,” says Jessica Peña, a sociology professor at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juarez. “But this is an extreme situation. I think this will change people's fears to the worst.… This is something we thought just happened in societies like Iran or Iraq.”
Image- Christian Science Monitor (“Chairs and others items are seen scattered at a house where a birthday party was interrupted by gunmen early Sunday in the town of Torreon, Sunday.”)
Online Sources- Christian Science Monitor, MSNBC, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CNN, El Universal

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