Archive for the Violence in Juarez Category

War on Drugs: Failing Humanity

Posted in hope, Life in Juarez, Violence in Juarez with tags , , , , , on 09/23/2009 by mattlindsey

Our border community is now painfully divided. It is a microcosm of our hemisphere, our world embroiled in a war on drugs. The violence is a wake-up call, not only for Mexico, but also for the U.S.

Billie Greenwood –Border Explorer

Back in April we posted a short video from The Newspaper Tree about the “War on Drugs”, the failed approach to a seemingly endless war. Our friend Billie posted an incredible article about how this war has deeply wounded our border community. She highlighted a conference that took place on Sept 20-22 (this week) at UTEP (University of Texas at El Paso) addressing alternative approaches to the drug-war that President Nixon started forty years ago. It is sad to say that for 40 years we have been tripping all over ourselves in failed attempts to counter the drug problem. The U.S. has over 2 million citizens in prison, the largest prison-industrial complex in the history of civilization; most of those people are in for crimes directly related to economics and drugs. We have to change the way we have been fighting against these issues.

Watch the video and check out Billie’s thoughtful article at The Border Explorer.

Irony in the Desert

Posted in Life in Juarez, Violence in Juarez with tags , , , , on 09/09/2009 by mattlindsey

Dear Child of God, if we are truly to understand that God loves all of us, we must recognize that He loves our enemies, too. God does not share our hatred, no matter what the offense we have endured.

Desmund Tutu

Irony in the Desert

Still not sure how Chris sniped this photo; comes with his tactical training, I suppose. Anyhow, this is one of my favorite shots of the summer. It is a sad manifestation of the dilemma in Ciudad Juarez: Guns vs. Peace. A city crying out for hope, submerged, but rising up from beneath a heavy layer of bullets, blood and boots.

Seven

Posted in hope, Life in Juarez, Violence in Juarez with tags , , , , , , on 09/03/2009 by mattlindsey

I can’t stand your religious meetings.
I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions. I want nothing to do with your religion projects,
your pretentious slogans and goals. I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes,
your public relations and image making. I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
When was the last time you sang to Me? Do you know what I want?
I want justice—oceans of it. I want fairness—rivers of it.
That’s what I want. That’s all I want.

Amos 5:21-24

Things had been growing mighty dim for Misty and I. The desert had sand blasted us, ground us down, an abrasive torrent of grit and pain. Oppressive heat waves gripped the land, our atmosphere of joy bombarded by fear and desperation. We felt trapped behind bars and razor wire, ducking, looking over our shoulders every second, closing the door, locking the locks, checking them again. We drive through the madness, tinted windows, locked within a cab: secure, alone.

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Often sitting deep inside, peeking out from beneath the wings of God, a craving would grow for courage to walk the streets, but we could not shake the feeling our freedom had been robbed from us. We were up against the ropes, a barrage of kidney punches. Clawing, biting, scrambling for hope.

Then hope came in the form of friends and family, brave souls choosing to cross into our world and stare fear in the face with us. They arrived like a refreshing afternoon summer rain, a rain where the sun is still shining and all you want to do is turn your face towards the heavens with a wide smile, close your eyes and dance. It repelled the oppression, sent it reeling in the wake of the love, joy and peace they brought with them. We did not realize how tired and thirsty that we had become until they arrived.

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Living in Ciudad Juarez has been the most difficult thing Misty or I have ever done in our lives, especially as this city is carving new records in the history books each month: Over 250 murders in July. 300 murders in August. September has started off more grim with 19 murdered last night alone. Juarez is surging, lurching, groaning, wanting, crying, needing, praying, looking for help. This city, this desert, has built our faith, tested our strength. It has shown us what hope looks like. It has unveiled God’s raging heart for justice and fairness and shown us that we cannot wish this world into change, but we have to get dirty, bloody, step into the wave (even if it’s scary). We are awed by all of you who have stepped into the madness with us, all of you who have chosen to align yourselves with your Mexican brothers and sisters, all of you who lean on the hope of redemption, jubilee, rain from Heaven.

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Although death’s yellow claws, chipped and cracked, have raked over our own neighborhood this summer, change is coming to Colonia Palo Chino. Hope is not lost in the shimmering heat nor in the gross turbulence of violence and death. No, justice is coming like a mighty flood and a river of righteous living will follow. And it will never run dry. Never.

*One of the treasures of friends and family that visit us is learning from their perspective on the work and challenges, and their voice in bringing solutions to the problems in Juarez. These perspectives are enlightening, and bring us balance as we go forward here. Thanks to Jenah for her inspiring photography. Visit Seven for a powerful perspective on our neighborhood, Colonia Palo Chino.

Dark Side of the River

Posted in Life in Juarez, Violence in Juarez with tags , , , on 08/08/2009 by mattlindsey

Poverty is not the problem, it is the symptom. The problem is an inability to share and to distribute the wealth.

In 10 or 20 years, these kids roaming the streets will be the same kind of criminals we see here today. They will be killing and trying to smuggle drugs because they won’t see the value in doing anything else. They were never given the opportunity to become an engineer or a doctor, or a teacher. If the only thing they learned was what they learned in the streets, if all they saw were people being murdered, if no one ever took them to church and no one lavished them with attention, I can assure you, they will become criminals.

Luis Fernando Cárdenas

Amor por Juarez

July was the deadliest month in the recent history of Ciudad Juarez (BOO!) and still it sits, plastered to the desert dust like a giant glowing pulsating elephant in the room. Outside my window buses roll by, kids are kicking a half-deflated soccer ball in the street, and tomorrow I will be in El Paso to pick up a small group of folks that is coming to visit us. I will run errands, spend my day in the land of the free, rub shoulders with the half-million people that live in one of the safest cities in the world; I will come home, pass through the magic-curtain back to the colonia, back to Juarez, the deadliest city in Mexico.

This is a weird place to live.

Luis Fernando Cárdenas posted his article on the El Paso’s online newspaper last month; it is one of the first pieces written towards hope that I have seen and one of the first articles that I have read in some time that speaks of the core infection of Mexico. Please, read it.

Hearing El Pasonians talk proudly about NOT crossing the border to see their family in Juarez is as much a slap in the face as so-called christians that spend $16 million dollars on a church building looming so high and extravagant that it casts a mocking shadow on its poor neighbors on the dark side of the river. If our nations churches won’t share and distribute the wealth, then we have indeed lost “the good fight.” Good ideas, catered-theology, politics without action, it is all just a sound byte, a clanging bell. What saddens me is that our best idea (as Americans) was to sink over $30 billion dollars into a fence and hundreds of millions more into the bottomless pit of the “War on Drugs.”

Living in the dark, covering our ears and tossing billions of dollars towards a war that cannot be one with AK-47’s and helicopters is the easy way out. We are at the crossroads of fear and hope. People are scrambling to find something solid to build on, something more to believe in. We cannot continue ignoring our impoverished neighbors.

Service in the Desert

Posted in Life in Juarez, Violence in Juarez with tags , , , , , , on 07/31/2009 by mattlindsey

The greatest sin of political imagination is thinking there in no other way except the filthy rotten system we have today.

Jesus for President

Serve Who?

This billboard says, “Serve your community”.

Ambiguous and obnoxious billboards are infecting this already polluted city. Flooding the streets with more assault rifles strengthens the violence, injects more fear, closes more doors, lowers the bar. It is ludicrous that they are replacing “Amor por Juarez” billboards with guns.

Just who will those guns be serving?

New Desert War

Posted in hope, Life in Juarez, Violence in Juarez with tags , , , , on 07/29/2009 by mmlindsey

It was hot. Tensions were boiling under the strain of the desert sun. Everyone was gripped, toes dug into the baking sand.

New Weapons

The bombs whistled, cutting through the shimmering heat waves like melted butter.The Attack They could not out run them. Bombs colliding with flesh, fear on every face.Incoming!

Fear...

Running from the bombs

When the dust settled, laughter was rippling over the water soaked soil and could be heard across Colonia Palo Chino, everyone happy and refreshed!

The Victim

Boots on the Ground

Posted in Violence in Juarez with tags , , , , , on 07/04/2009 by mattlindsey

The operation’s staffing level remains at 7,500 soldiers and 2,300 federal police officers, Torres said… Deaths had dropped to around one or two a day in March but are now averaging about seven homicides daily. More than 130 people have been killed so far this month. More than 2,300 people have been killed since January 2008.

By Daniel Borunda/El Paso times

Independence Day.

Boots on the Ground

Photo shot on 4th of July at the downtown border bridge.

19,600 boots on the ground in Ciudad Juarez, just a thin muddy river dividing independence and forced submission.

So on this Independence Day, here’s to our Mexican brothers and sisters who long for opportunity, dignity and true freedom.