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Almost 1,000 deaths this year in Mexico border city


Agence France-Presse
First Posted 14:02:00 08/30/2008

Filed Under: Crime

CIUDAD JUAREZ -- Mexicans plan mass protests against insecurity on Saturday, but not in the city with the highest murder rate this year, where many are focused on more immediate safety concerns.

Violence has escalated throughout Mexico since President Felipe Calderon, who took office at the end of 2006, launched a military crackdown on drug trafficking, but nowhere more than in Ciudad Juarez.

Of some 2,700 murders across the country this year, official figures this week show almost 1,000 have been in this city across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, including three in the most recent attacks Friday.

Many residents in the city of 1.5 million do not expect changes after this weekend's countrywide protests, following decades of mafia-led violence.

The city has had an average of four murders a day this year, according to police and news reports, which increased to eight a day in the month of August.

Between January and the end of August, some 946 murders were reported, including 110 police, according to official figures, out of a total of 1,200 in the whole of the northern Chihuahua State, where the city lies.

The Juarez drug cartel, led by the Carrillo Fuentes family, is in a turf war for control of Chihuahua state and its key drug routes to the United States with the Sinaloa cartel, led by fugitive Joaquin "el Chapo" Guzman and Ismael Zambada, from the neighboring state to the south.

The deployment of 2,500 soldiers in Ciudad Juarez, part of the federal deployment of more than 36,000 across the country since early 2007, has so far failed to have an impact, with the violence only worsening.

Since the start of the year, 38 business people have been kidnapped, 52 banks held up, more than 10,000 vehicles stolen and 22 businesses burned down for failing to pay protection money in Ciudad Juarez, according to officials and news reports.

"Due to the high level of violence in the city and insecurity there has been a growth in petty crime, like assaults and thefts from businesses and homes, which has led to a falling behind in foreign and national investment, and a drop in tourism," lamented Gabriel Flores, president of a local business committee.

Business leaders said workers from other states who traditionally sought work in the border city's maquiladoras -- low-cost assembly factories -- have also fled.

"This year around 2,600 workers and directors have asked to return to their original cities or change to others due to the wave of violence on the border," the association of maquiladoras said in a statement.

Some 3,000 other families have also left to live in the border city of El Paso, Texas, a border expert said recently.

Mexicans were expected to take to the streets in some 70 towns and cities Saturday in mass demonstrations against escalating murders and kidnappings across the country.



Copyright 2014 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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