Texas Book Festival — San Antonio Edition
Interview with Ricardo Ainslie
Published: April 10, 2013
You say that what happens in Juárez will have lasting repercussions for both the US and Mexico. Why?
I think the Mexican government made a decision – and no official ever told me this – but I think they made a decision that we have to make a stand in Juárez. Juárez is too important for all kinds of reasons. There's no other way for accounting for the fact that at one point in time a full 20 percent, maybe even 25 percent, of the federal forces deployed in the war against the drug cartels were in Juárez. You have this stuff going on on a big scale in some of the other states, but they sent a lot of firepower into Juárez.
They weren't able to solve the puzzle of how to end cartel violence in Juárez. They took down a lot of people, and a lot of them Sinaloa cartel people, a lot of them Juárez cartel people. That town was under siege for the better part of a year and a half. Roadblocks everywhere. They completely disbanded the local police, and so on. So I think they put all their chips in this basket and said ‘we gotta make this work.’
Now, what I think is interesting is that after Villas de Salvarcar, that massacre, it's the first time that the Mexican government makes the decision to invest in the social fabric of the city — Even though that had clearly been part of what happened to turn around Colombia. It wasn't until 2010 in Juárez that the Mexican government started doing that.
So today we have a Juárez that – last year we had something like under-800 murders. When you consider that it's still more than twice the number they had in 2007, which was a record, it's bad. But they also had over 3,000 murders in 2010 alone. So, 800 feels like a relief to that city.
Like any success, it has – what's that phrase, success has many authors? There are a lot of different explanations for why things got better in Juárez. But the most frequent explanation you'll hear is that the Sinaloa cartel won. And you know, it may be that they did. I think in any event, whatever happened, they haven't stamped out organized crime in Juárez. That's clear.
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