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11/22/2013

Mexico: a race between industry and crime

Juarez

A woman makes her way past the house where eight members of a Mexican family were murdered on Wednesday over a $120 debt. (Juan Carlos Llorca/Associated Press.)

 

Mexico. Mexico. Mexico.

As we all know, it’s a big, complicated country. Inevitably, it produces all sorts of news, much of it good.

For example, The New York Times reports this week from the hauntingly beautiful central Mexican city of Guanajuato about the rise of a new and prosperous middle class south of the Rio Grande.

“Mexico is finally attracting the higher-end industries that experts say could lead to lasting prosperity … ” writes Times correspondent Damien Cave. “In a country where connections and corruption are still common tools of enrichment, many people here are beginning to believe they can get ahead through study and hard work.”

Meanwhile, in the turbulent border city of Ciudad Juarez – haunted by the narcotics trade and until recently considered the murder capital of the world – the news was characteristically grim.

This past Wednesday, eight members of a church-going family all wound up dead as a result of an unpaid debt equivalent to $120 Cdn. The victims included three young children.

According to prosecuting attorneys, the debt was owed by Maximo Romero Sanchez as a result of an unpaid stud fee involving a dog he owned. Several men turned up to collect the money. They didn’t get it, so they used a knife to murder everyone in the house – Sanchez, his wife, their two kids, aged four and six, plus four other relatives, including a two-year-old infant.

According to a report by the Associated Press, two men have been arrested for the crime – Jesus Mendoza Hernandez, 21, and Edgar Lujan Guevara, 31. Others are apparently being sought.

It seems almost impossible to make any sense of this murder. On the other hand, Ciudad Juarez has witnessed horrific levels of drug-fueled physical mayhem in recent years. No doubt violence feeds upon itself, lowering the inhibitions that would otherwise limit the use of bloodshed. Maybe that backdrop played a role in shaping the equation.

Man owes $120 + man can’t pay = kill everyone in the house.

Mexico – a complicated land.

Here’s hoping that high-end industry and better education prevail over bloodlust and grief.

Oakland Ross is a foreign affairs reporter for the Toronto Star.

 

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