I wrote this piece for the latest Colombia Update from the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the organization I worked with in Colombia.
|A mural painted by Foro participants|
However, as my departure date grew closer, I became more and more nervous. The violence wracking Mexico, largely fueled by the country’s drug war, is magnified in the border town of Juarez, just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, and often vies for the dubious title of most dangerous city in the world. So just because I spent two years in Colombia as a human rights accompanier, and knew that the mainstream news stories about Mexico I had read didn’t tell the whole story, the concentration and apparent randomness of the violence in Juarez, at least as portrayed in mainstream media, worried me.
Just days before my departure for Ciudad Juarez, for example, four maquila factory workers were killed and fifteen more injured when gunmen shot up three company buses carrying the workers home. Since 2008, the number of murders has surpassed 6,500 in a city of about 1.5 million. New York City, with a population of 8.3 million, had just 1,570 murders in a similar period.