El Paso, Juárez Citizens Unite to Protest Border Violence: 'No Más Sangre'

Ciudad Juárez, just past El Paso off the Mexico border, has had a monstrously high murder rate for years, owing both to the sanguine drug trade and the rash of sexual violence that's claimed the lives of thousands of women. This weekend, hundreds of citizens in both cities took to the streets in bi-national protest of the killings, wearing shirts declaring 'No Más Sangre' -- 'No More Blood,' in an attempt to bring government attention to the devastation.

Protesters on both sides linked fingers through a border fence, emphasizing the cities' united economic and social future. They were also commemorating the one-year anniversary of the murders of 15 innocent middle school and high school students, who were massacred when cartel-linked gunmen stormed a house party, acting on bad information.

In 2010, 3011 people were murdered in Juárez, a city populated by about 1.3 million, and a team of academics has projected that 5000 deaths will occur in 2011. Two hundred people have already been murdered in Juárez in January alone.

Many attendees spoke of missing, murdered and deported relatives and friends. Monsignor Arturo Bañueles, of El Paso's St. Pius X Catholic Church, gave an inspired and incisive speech linking the violence to US policies and demand for drugs:

'We know the causes of violence on our border: poverty, hunger, the growing gap between rich and poor, NAFTA policies that ignore the plight of the poor, racism, unjust immigration laws, bailing out wall street but not the poor who are losing their homes, illegal trafficking of guns going south, our US lethal addiction for drugs that fund the cartel’s terrorism of our border community, the militarization of our border which has already shown its deathly face, and the profiteering of selling violence to children in the media. The list is long and dreadful. These failed policies and laws serve only to bring dark results: people die, violence flows in our streets. But we can say very clearly today, no law, policy, or profit of violence has ever succeeded. Also it is time to say it clearly: when we buy and use drugs, even recreationally, we are paying for bullets that kill others; and we bring unbearable suffering to families.'

Read a transcript of his speech here.

'No Más Sangre' is a new campaign started by Eduardo del Rio 'Ruis,' a Mexico City cartoonist seeking to empower the public to speak out. Many citizens in Mexico fear protesting the violence for fear of retaliation by the cartels.

Drug violence claimed the lives of 15,273 people across Mexico in 2010, up 60 percent from the year prior. Upwards of 30,000 people have been killed in Mexico's drug war since 2006.

AlterNet / By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Posted at January 31, 2011, 5:57am

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