Wednesday March 24, 2010
Thirteen days have past since the last mass killing occurred in Juarez and I am just now sitting down to pick up where I left off. Three days after six people were killed at a funeral wake in Paraje del Sur, a couple of other deadly shootings vastly overshadowed their deaths and consumed the attention of the international press, including myself. I’m referring to the murder of US consulate worker Lesley Enriquez and her husband, Arthur Redelfs, who worked as a detention officer in the El Paso County jail. Also killed was Jorge Alberto Salcido Cenicero, who’s wife worked for the US consulate in Juarez.
And this morning, there is yet another mass shooting in the Juarez headlines, unlikely to get air time or ink spent in the international press. Four young men where killed outside a funeral home they were making improvements to in their neighborhood. The news reports attribute their deaths to rival gang activity and say these were young men who were trying to reform their lives. One of dead apparently lived in El Paso.
The mass shooting thirteen days ago, occurred in a remote colonia called Paraje del Sur. From the international border it took me 40 minutes to reach the neighborhood. I put 100 miles on my car in my attempt to cover the story. Despite my efforts, though, I wasn’t able to get much insight into the attack.
Paraje del Sur is in the south eastern corner of Juarez, one of the newer neighborhoods of government subsidized housing projects meant to house employees who work the dozens of maquiladoras in that portion of the city. I often see the colonia’s name in the news as it is a common site of violence, mostly shooting deaths. This was my first visit to the neighborhood.
I arrived at about 11:30 in the morning. Despite the newness of the corner stores, and gasoline stations the colonia has a desolate feeling. In stark sunlight, there is a noticeable lack of trees as the neighborhood is built over no more than desert sand and prickly shrubs. Graffiti is everywhere.
The killings happened just a few blocks from the entrance of the colonia, which is marked by a large sign in blue lettering that says Paraje del Sur. When I arrived there were already other media there. A black hearse was parked in front of the house as the family was preparing to bury the 18-year-old boy whose wake the night before resulted in six more deaths. The family was visibly annoyed by our presence and did not want to talk, something I can sympathize with. I took a couple shots and talked with neighbors who had gathered around on the same block. I didn’t get much more than second-hand accounts, but the note of of frustration and desperation present in so many of the interviews I do was unmistakable.
The family left in a small sedan behind the hearse and the media began clearing away. I asked some of the local reporters whether there would be a press conference later on. Some of them actually chuckled at my question. “No,” they said. The only response to the media from authorities was to send us a police report with basic details. This time there would be no denouncing by the mayor, the attorney general, the federal police or military, like there was in the last massacre. The realization felt surreal to me. It felt like even mass killings, like this one– the second in seven weeks, had become just another example of the daily violence in the city.