Lost in Juarez: Everything America touches turns to death

By Jane Stillwater

Every day when I open my inbox, I get at least one press release from various American armed forces in Iraq, letting me know that some insurgent there has just been killed or some AQI group has just been captured. Even now, over seven years after the Iraq occupation began, our troops are still out hunting and capturing insurgents and rebel groups there — and the bombings are still going on.   Does that mean that Iraq is still unstable?   What else am I supposed to think?  That constant stream of e-mails seals the deal.

Then we have Afghanistan, the world’s most productive narco-state by far, source of most of the heroin on the market today.   Heroin is deadly.  Worldwide, how many addicts have died from overdoses or AIDS or violence resulting from their use of heroin that has been supplied by American-occupied Afghanistan?  One million?   Two million?   I can’t even begin to guess.

Palestine is another killing field that America finances.  “Why are you always running off at the mouth about Palestine,” I’m always asked.   Why?  Because Israel and Palestine would have worked out all their problems in a manner acceptable to both sides decades ago if America hasn’t kept pouring gasoline on the fire in the form of weapons, weapons, weapons and more weapons.

And let’s not forget to mention Pakistan, America’s good ally which is now yet another killing field.  And then there’s Columbia, home of Latin America’s longest-running bloody war on farmers and trade unionists, bought and paid for by America the beautiful.

“I would really like to go back and embed in Iraq,” I keep telling my son Joe and my daughter Ashley, “but, frankly, I’m just not up to it physically — the flight there is just too long for me.   20 hours in the air?  Followed by days and days of jet-lag?  Forget it.   And I’d like to embed in Afghanistan too.   And also go and report on the brutal siege of Gaza as well.  I’d like to be everywhere in the world that the action is.   I want to be able to see for myself — up front and personal — all of the places where America’s treasury and America’s future are all being pounded down into a bunch of bloody rat-holes.”

I want to go where the blood flows, to bear witness and to send messages back to America that all this warfare and bloodshed and killing is not necessary, is a waste of time and money, does NOT make us safer, goes against every religion we believe in — and doesn’t even make sense.

But I’m getting less and less willing to face all the hassle of interminable plane rides across the globe and wearisome jet-lag that lingers for weeks.

“Hey, no problem,” replied my friend Larry, who lives in Texas.  “No need to travel to the other side of the world to see American violence and American weapon sales and American bloodshed in action.  You can always just go down to Juarez.”

Ah.  So now there’s also Juarez, bloody Juarez, to consider — where people die as violently on the streets of Juarez as they die on the streets of Kandahar or Baghdad.

According to one CNN report, “Tim Crockett, head of the security firm Pioneer Consulting and security adviser for CNN, described Ciudad Juarez as ‘probably more dangerous for journalists than the Middle East’.”  Probably more dangerous for journalists than even the Middle East?  Yikes!

Remember back in 2007 when I embedded in Iraq and the Army told me that if I left the fortified Green Zone area and walked across the 14th of July Bridge into Baghdad itself, I’d most likely be dead within five minutes? Well, according to several articles that Larry just e-mailed me, there’s almost exactly the same situation happening in Juarez right now.  Juarez is a war zone.  Juarez is a failed-narco-state.  Juarez has insurgents, a military build-up of American weapons, American occupation advisers who run a surrogate war from DC and terrified citizens who keep turning up dead.

“But the beautiful thing about Juarez, Jane,” continued Larry, “is that Juarez is only five miles from Texas.    You could hop a plane in the morning, fly to El Paso without getting jet-lag, be inside a war zone in time for lunch — and be getting your head blown off by dinnertime.” Plus it wouldn’t be too hard on my poor knees — and I wouldn’t be required to bring a flak jacket either.  Sign me up!

Here’s a headline from a Los Angeles Times article that Larry sent me on the subject, just in case you think I might be exaggerating:  “Mexico under siege, the drug war at our doorstep.”   The Times then goes on to state that 45,000 troops have been deployed so far and that 10,031 people have been killed.   “That’s more than the U.S. fatalities in the Iraq war.”  http://projects.latimes.com/mexico-drug-war/

And here are some more articles from Larry:

From the Overseas Security Advisory Council:  The U.S. State Department has issued a warning about Juarez.   “Mexican cartels battling for control of drug trafficking routes cause widespread disruption in the city and state.”
https://www.osac.gov/Reports/report.cfm?contentID=113317From Current News:  Gunmen murdered 19 people this weekend, including two U.S. citizens associated with the American consulate. http://current.com/news/92323550_in-juarez-mexico-gunmen-murdered-19-people-this-past-weekend-including-2-us-citizens.htm

And here the Huffington Post seems to be hinting that America is losing the drug war in Juarez as well.  Shades of Afghanistan!  I wonder how many drug addicts in the U.S. have died from drugs illegally imported by the Juarez cartels?

“Sinaloa takes over Cuidad Juarez: After a two-year battle that has killed more than 5,000 people, Mexico’s most powerful kingpin now controls the coveted trafficking routes through Ciudad Juarez.  That conclusion by U.S. intelligence adds to evidence that Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel is winning Mexico’s drug war….  [The] Sinaloa cartel has edged out the rival Juarez gang for control over trafficking routes through Ciudad Juarez, ground zero in the drug war. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/09/sinaloa-takes-over-ciudad-juarez_n_531378.html

8 Comments on “Lost in Juarez: Everything America touches turns to death”

  1. Damn good piece, Jane.

    This is something about which most Americans literally have no clue. Until one of their relatives winds up in an American prison (we have managed, thanks to our ‘war on drugs’, to incarcerate more people than any First-World nation), most don’t even feel they have a stake in this game – because they don’t ‘do drugs’.

    Correcting this problem will require action above and beyond, I believe, the average American’s ability to reason – we’re going to have to look at our society and ask, “what is it about America that we’re willing to take drugs to escape it?”.

    We’re also going to have to admit that throwing blood and treasure into a ‘war’ on illegal pharmaceuticals is a losing proposition; one that requires rethinking virtually all of our national priorities.

    To me, the problem gets back to some rather obvious things – economic development and a government that cares about people rather than corporations – but that’s probably the subject of an entirely new article.

    I’ve several friends in Texas. They like it there – but the nagging problem of virtual civil-war across the border in Mexico has all of them more than a little worried. One of them understands that we hold most of the solution in our hands on this side of the line.

    Until more begin to think that way, this is going to join the sad and sorry list of nations subject to America’s Grim-Reaper Touch – because, as you pointed out, everything we touch turns to death….


  2. @W.D.Noble-[Correcting this problem will require action above and beyond, I believe, the average American’s ability to reason – we’re going to have to look at our society and ask, “what is it about America that we’re willing to take drugs to escape it?”.]

    This is an excellent question. I bet some of the answers begin with some of the things I heard people saying on the History Channel’s Story of America. Things like:

    “American is founded on hard work”
    “Americans are willing to work to succeed”
    “Women were happy to be out of the homes and in a Mill, it must have been liberating for them to contribute to the family.” (that one was Martha Stewart)

    Yet in the next half hour they showed Irishmen killing themselves with drink to avoid thinking about killing themselves with gunpowder while building the Erie Canal. Not that they would see the huge profit from it.

    It probably began pretty f-ing early on and has seemingly not slowed down since then. This propensity for flipping a switch chemically.

    It’s one thing to have drugs in our midst,they most often have a positive purpose somewhere, however you are correct, we do need to ask why we are willing to contribute to massive global unrest in order to check out.

  3. I think Martha Stewart is a bubble head. Most of the women i know who work jobs dream of simply being a house wife instead, but they can’t afford it. Liberated? Neah, just another slave in the system. It must be hard on the egos of men who wanted to be the main provider, the shoulder to lean on, and hard on the women who have lost their status as housewives because the word, in recent years, has come to mean a woman with no skills.

    An American in Mexico is in a difficult position. Those who stick to the American colonies and hotels are assumed to have the protection of the federalies, and are therefore cohorts of the enemy. They are vulnerable to the general population. Those who put out the efforts to step out of the colonies, use the local bus system, visit or set up residence in provencial towns, and shop at the open markets become just as vulnerable to the abuses of the federalies and the policia as the rest of the citizens of Mexico. You are with them, or you are not. There is no gray area, and if you are with them, you must prove it by living your life as they do; deeply involved with their families, their friends and their social ties.

  4. This, frankly, is the creeping logic of eternal war; it lands up on your doorstep and then in your living room. Inevitable.

  5. Just one more reason to end this 40-year-old failed policy known as “the war on drugs” – if you declare war on vice, vice always wins (just ask Capone).

  6. @Bill,

    The primary difference between you and me is the level of detachment from society – your concern is some abstract notion of “social justice,” mine is the destruction of the establishment’s power monopolies (which makes the environment hostile towards “social justice” in the first place…).

    You are simply railing against the symptoms of society’s disease, I’m looking to kill the cause at the root.

  7. this is no time to give amnesty; 3% of our pupulation are illegals, that means 3% added to the number of people seeking jobs, while the job growth is still slow, i recommend a halt to legal immigration and just declare open season on the borders, thats a cheap fix, then maybe once we have growth can we start legal immigration back up; and we need diversity, no more hispanics…i live in los angeles and most employers are now hispanic and only hire their own kind…..on top of that, a friend of mine, half white half asian applied for a job at a mcdonalds whos manager was mexican, and he got his identity stolen. I have no doubts some of these hispanic employers are stealing peoples identities…we need more diversity; we are turning into mexico

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