494,000 Juarez residents live in poverty or extreme poverty

A study from the Colegio de la Frontera Norte (COLEF) has found that Juarez now has nearly 500,000 residents living in poverty or extreme poverty.

The figures from the study show 432,000 poor and 62,000 extremely poor. This represents at least 37 percent of the population of the city who are unable to meet their basic needs. The poorest sector of the city is the southwest (el surponiente). These figures are based on the population of the city estimated at 1,335,000. Cesar Fuentes, the economist who conducted the study, said that since 2000, the levels of people living in poverty in the city have increased.
For a long time, Ciudad Juarez was not considered a zone of poverty due to the high levels of employment, even though most of the jobs in the city pay very low wages. The majority of the workers are in factory production lines and they earn only 700 to 800 pesos per week (between $57 and $66).

5 out of 10 minors in Mexico live in poverty…UNICEF

I was struck by this paragraph in the Foreign Affairs piece I posted by Shannon O’Niell:

“As a result, modern Mexico is a middle-class country. The World Bank estimates that some 95 percent of Mexico’s population is in the middle or the upper class. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) also puts most of Mexico’s population on the upper rungs, estimating that 50 percent of Mexicans are middle class and another 35 percent are upper class. Even the most stringent measurement, comparing incomes alongside access to health care, education, social security, housing, and food, finds that just over 45 percent of Mexicans are considered poor — meaning that almost 55 percent are not.”

Many studies I have seen from Mexican agencies such as CONEVAL in recent years say that 50%+ of the Mexican people are “poor or very poor.” So how is it possible for 95 percent to be middle or upper class?? In any case a new study from the UNICEF says that 5 out of 10 children in Mexico live in poverty.

The figure of 90% in the middle class in Mexico is just preposterous. INEGI figures, corroborated by various secretariats put the number living in poverty at 54 million. The report mentioned here by the World Bank from Nov. of last year is very detailed but this news account highlights Mexico as being one of the countries of Latin America with the LEAST upward mobility since 2000. See the chart depicting movers and read the last paragraph. “Just two other countries — Guatemala and Nicaragua — had less economic mobility than Mexico.”

Also, the World Bank uses a figure of $10 US/day as its lower threshold for measuring membership in the middle class. This is about 130 Mex pesos/day. If you know anyone who works in the informal sector here, ask them how much they make on a good day, think about that figure and ask them if they consider themselves middle class.

Commentary on “How Mexico Got Back in the Game” T. Friedman

Yes, just what we have been waiting for! Economic Flat-Earth-Society guru Thomas Friedman says Mexico is ALL RIGHT! No mention of 125,000 murdered people and 27,000+ more missing in the past 6 years…  Why mention it when the outcome and outlooks (according to Friedman) are so rosy?  I would love to know what PR bill-of-goods Mr. Friedman is buying and who is selling it.  I hope there will be an investigative report soon on the Mexican government’s rebranding campaign and how it is being run.  I have no doubt that it is growing bigger and is getting more and more success every day as business reporters and columnists swallow the happy pills.  Thanks to Ed for sending this one…

Meanwhile, killings continue this weekend in Ciudad Juarez.  At least 2 more today since my early morning report…
WAIT WAIT THERE’S MORE!!! Tony Garza is a former US Ambassador to Mexico and now a big investor, profiting from free trade… Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  But, to be fair, there is something wrong with all this economic jingoism completely ignoring the human toll of more than 100,000 murdered Mexicans in the past 6 years…  And the increasing rate of poverty in the country. What kind of economic success leaves more than 50% of the country in poverty or EXTREME poverty? molly

El Pasoans Take Risks to Keep International Bonds

An article found on the KFox14 website brings to light the necessity for El Pasoans to cross the Juarez border:

EL PASO, Texas — The U.S. Department of State is keeping Ciudad Juarez listed as a specific concern for those who need to cross the border, but many El Pasoans need to keep going.

They go for family and businesses, so they make adjustments and take their chances. For some, the price is high.

The familiar border aroma of onion, cilantro and jalapeno rise in Rosemary’s kitchen in El Paso – the same way they once did in her home in Juarez.

“I still imagine myself cooking, cleaning,” she said.

For 17 years, the El Paso-born American rose at 4 a.m. to make the trek back and forth across the international bridge, and she did it all for a man.

“It just gives me a great sadness because I sacrificed so many things. I sacrificed a lot of things being in Juarez,” Rosemary said. I sacrificed family; I sacrificed friends because I wanted to be with the man that I loved.”

Together, the couple built a house from one room and a thriving little enterprise.

“He built his business starting with nothing but a shovel and a little truck,” she said.

While Rosemary commuted to El Paso for her job, her husband worked seven days a week building their future.

Then, in 2009, cartel violence consumed the city.

“A lot of my husband’s friends who had the same types of businesses had all been killed already,” she said.

Rosemary’s extortion nightmare began and everything about the couple’s future was threatened.

“That put our life, his life, the life of our family in danger,” Rosemary said.

The couple starting handing over $200 a week from his business.

“I begged him and I pleaded with him to move here to El Paso and he refused. He said he was not going to give in to anybody and that he came to this life with nothing, and he was going to leave with nothing,” Rosemary said.

The nightmare went on for a year, and then, the extortionists wanted more.

“The day that he was shot, I was at my job here in El Paso and they told me that they had shot someone inside the business of my husband. It was all over the news,” she said.

In an instant, Rosemary’s husband’s life was over. Her life was over and she knew it. In a matter of hours, with the help of family in El Paso, Rosemary packed up everything she could and moved back home.

American business owners by the dozens would follow suit.

“It was us, it was our neighbors, our neighbor got shut down for a year, and then, our neighbor next to him – they assaulted him twice,” said Luis Gallegos, who owns a staffing company.

In 2009, an extortion threat arrived at the door step of Arias and Associates, Gallegos’ company.

“I got a call in the afternoon, we were right here and they called us that all our employees are locked in,” Gallegos said. “They wouldn’t let them out because the federal police had just gotten executed a just 10 feet from our door.”

Soon after, the Gallegos family would be trapped in a gun battle while stuck in Juarez traffic. Their teenage son witnessed a man shot to death by automatic gun fire.

“We were panicked,” Gallegos said. “We were shocked, but our employees were like, ‘Well, it happened to me when I worked over there at the liquor store.’”

But they were not so cavalier about cartel crime. Their thriving staffing business provided a workforce to some of the 150 “maquiladoras” (factories) in Juarez, and it immediately went into stealth mode.

“The business, everything, is all being handled over the phone,” said Hossana Gallegos, Luis’ wife and business partner.

Luis said that they would not conduct business at night and would avoid staying late in the afternoon.

“If we go, we don’t even call our employees,” Hossana Gallegos said. “We don’t tell them that we are going to be there.”

Hossana and Luis, who are Americans, operate their business in Juarez as though they are phantoms. They are doing as many Americans commuting to Juarez now must do. They drive modest cars and constantly change their routines.

Although security measures are not openly discussed, these business owners say it’s an adjustment being made by all, including maquiladoras.

“You see a lot of increase to the security,” Luis Gallegos said. “They’re shutting streets down. The access to the plants is more difficult.

The Mexican chamber of commerce reports more than 10,000 businesses have shut down since 2009.

It’s unclear how many of those businesses were American-owned, but Mexican business owners by the hundreds have sought refuge relocating to the U.S. side of the border. Most of them move their businesses revenue to the states.

They represent a growing social and professional network that meets at a restaurant on a regular basis.

Statistics from the state department show that there may be no going back to a prosperous pre-cartel Juarez anytime soon.

The state department warnings remain in place in Juarez calling it a specific concern.

The number of non-immigrant visas to the United States has increased steadily since 2009 and continues to rise. State department numbers show Juarez has one of the highest murder rates in Mexico.

Immigration and human rights attorneys representing those seeking asylum in the United States agree that safety remains a rapidly deteriorating concept in Mexico despite what its politicians push to the public.

Meanwhile, Americans trying to run their business with one foot in each country wistfully wish for days past before commuting got crazy.

“I would still commute every day, but it was not the same as before. I would always have to look behind my back. My husband would always be waiting for me as soon as I left for home and would lock the gates as soon as possible,” Rosemary said.

There seems to be no predictability factor as to whether Juarez can ever return to the days before blood began running in the streets.

“I was happy living in Juarez; I had everything I needed around me,” Rosemary said. “I had a Sams, Walmart, and all the stores.”

Those in El Paso creating a booming bi-national community on the border say they are adjusting.

“As soon as you crossed the border, you would see the soldier and then there was one after the other, patrols, the trucks,” Luis Gallegos said. “They would pull you over, and you don’t see that so much anymore. And oddly, you feel safer now.”

As far as the economic impact in El Paso is concerned, given the businesses and business people and families who have moved here from Juarez, every indicator from numbers gathered by the El Paso Regional Economic Development Corporation show that all the stability and growth of the city’s economy is coming from our military base, and not from beyond the border.

“A lifetime of solidarity with the poorest of the poor”…Fr. Peter Hinde to receive Honorary Doctorate degree

Many of us in the border region and many more people in the US and all over
Latin America have had the privilege of meeting Father Peter Hinde and
Sister Betty Campbell of Casa Tabor. This is a wonderful recognition of a
lifetime of work and witness that continues every single day in their
barrio in Juarez. molly

“A lifetime of solidarity with the poorest of the poor”*

Fr. Peter Hinde to receive Honorary Doctorate degree

Fr. Peter Hinde, O.Carm, co-founder with Sr. Betty Campbell, RSM, of Tabor
House in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and a co-founder of CRISPAZ, Cristianos/as
por la Paz en El Salvador<http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=001plZJebL6Mipr_xBj0H6O2JJ2weSam79d49YPGR…>
, will receive an honorary Degree of Doctor of Divinity from Christian
Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, IN on May 12, 2012.

Quoting Marty Schladen of the El Paso Times, “Hinde, known now as Father
Peter, has gone from World War II fighter pilot to a member of Veterans for
Peace who comes to El Paso every Friday to protest U.S. military
involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. He lives among and ministers to some
of Juarez’s poorest residents. And he argues that U.S. policies help keep
them poor.

Click here to read more

Links to Commentary on Wal-Mart’s Alleged Bribery Cover-up

Go to the link for Pan American Post to see the reports in major US papers
highlighted. In contrast to the “cost of doing business in Mexico” yawns
and who cares? Does anyone challenge the basic assumption that Walmart
benefits ordinary people in Mexico or elsewhere? Is it an unquestionable
benefit to provide cheap products made by people paid terrible wages in
China, India, Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras and elsewhere to people in
Mexico (and many in the US also) who have seen domestic manufacturing
destroyed by free trade policies over the past 18 years? Does anyone think
that small business people in Mexico benefit from a rotten system that
requires street vendors and sellers of second hand clothes and other goods
to pay bribes to get a spot in a flea market, or worse, who must pay
protection money to keep from being beat up or killed?  Small businesses in
Juarez now are being destroyed by extortion and the cruelty of the criminal
gangs (often allied with the police) that threaten and carry out threats by
burning and killing. molly

 

15 yr old girl shot outside of her house

Yesterday, Friday, at least 3 people were killed in Juarez. But near
midnight, in another attack a young girl, 15, was shot in front of her
house in Senderos de San Isidro in the southeast region of the city.
Another girl with her was also seriously wounded in the attack.

The 2 girls were talking in front of the house after 11 pm, standing on the
sidewalk when a vehicle came by with several people on board. According to
witnesses, no one got out of the vehicle but they began to shoot from
inside the car. The father of the dead girl cried out “JUSTICIA!” and said
that the municipal police who arrived at the scene only cordoned it off and
then stood around instead of trying to find the people who had murdered his
daughter.

“There is my daughter lying dead and they just fuck around…go an look for
the murderers…Mr. President! look and see what your agents are doing!
There is my daughter lying there…” screamed the man.

At least three of his neighbors had to restrain him as he was trying to
embrace the body of the girl…

This afternoon, another murder was reported of a 16 yr old boy in colonia
Villa Residencial del Real. He was killed with a knife early in the morning
and his body left in the street.

Rafaguean a quinceañera afuera de su casa

The note below was sent by Jose Rivera who knows the history of the gangs
in El Paso and Juarez because he lived through it. Now he is living through
tornadoes in the midwestern US…far from the border…But I asked his
permission to post his response to the story of the 15 yr old girl murdered
friday night in front of her home in Juarez… Below, a further note on the
murder in El Diario.  The killer is said to be a 14 yr old boy, a friend of
the victims… The article says that dozens of young kids in these
neighborhoods on the southeast of Juarez are making a living by stripping
abandoned houses of things that can be sold.  And that 40 percent of the
kids do not have jobs and do not go to school…molly

 

 

 

More than Words: Photojournalist captures the violence in Mexico via El Nuevo Sol

Julian Cardona/ Photo by Karla Henry for El Nuevo Sol

Mexican photojournalist Julian Cardona presented his photographs illustrating the violence in Mexico and the economic turmoil its citizens face during his visit to California State University, Northridge on Tuesday, April 11.

Sharing photographs from his books including Exodus/Exodo and Juarez: The Laboratory of our Future, Cardona noted the ramifications of North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA), an agreement among the US, Mexico and Canada, and the risks migrants face when crossing the border.

“First thing I realized was that in the city there were external forces and transnational forces that were playing a role in the everyday life,” said Cardona.

As a photographer for El Diario de Juarez, he witnessed first hand the effects of foreign markets in Mexico, noting the privatization of the public enterprise and market de-regularization.

To read more, visit El Nuevo Sol

For more on the violence in Mexico, click here

The Deadliest Place In Mexico Who’s killing the people of the Juarez Valley?–Melissa del Bosque in the Texas Observer

To reach the deadliest place in Mexico you take Carretera Federal 2, a well-paved stretch of highway that begins at the outskirts of Juarez, east for 50 miles along the Rio Grande, passing through cotton and alfalfa fields until you reach the rural Juarez Valley, said to have the highest murder rate in the country, if not the world.

The Juarez Valley is a narrow corridor of green farmland carved from the Chihuahuan desert along the Rio Grande. Farmers proudly say it was once known for its cotton, which rivaled Egypt’s. But that was before the booming growth of Juarez’s factories in the 1990s left farmers downstream with nothing but foul-smelling sludge to irrigate their fields. After that, the only industry that thrived was drug smuggling. Because of the valley’s sparse population and location along the Rio Grande’s dried up riverbed, a person can easily drive or walk into Texas loaded down with marijuana and cocaine.

For decades, this lucrative smuggling corridor, or “plaza,” was controlled by the Juarez cartel. In 2008, Mexico’s largest, most powerful syndicate—the Sinaloa cartel, run by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman—declared war on the Juarez cartel and moved in to take over the territory. The federal government sent in the military to quell the violence. Instead the murder rate in the state of Chihuahua exploded. The bloodshed in the city of Juarez made international news. It was dubbed the “deadliest city in the world.”

Click here to read more