6:55am

Sun July 1, 2012
Latin America

Election Gives Little Hope To Embattled Juarez

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

As Carrie said, the war on drugs is not the primary campaign issue in Mexico. But it has been at the heart of outgoing President Felipe Calderon's agenda. The bloodiest battlefield in that war has been Ciudad Juarez, which is right across the border from El Paso, Texas. And the presidential election has not put residents there in a hopeful mood.

As Monica Ortiz Uribe, of member station KJZZ reports, many in Juarez have little faith that a new president can bring peace.

(SOUNDBITE OF VEHICLES)

MONICA ORTIZ URIBE, BYLINE: At a city park just beyond the border crossing, a group of college students has just been robbed.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Spanish spoken)

URIBE: We stopped to buy food, when someone broke into our car, says a girl wearing electric blue eye shadow. She's too nervous to give her name. The thieves made off with an iPod, a passport and some cash.

ABEL LOPEZ: (Spanish spoken)

URIBE: We won't call the cops, says Abel Lopez. He's a lanky 23-year-old who styles his hair like an ice cream swirl. Crimes often go unsolved in Juarez, and Lopez says he doesn't trust the police. He feels the same about politicians.

LOPEZ: (Spanish spoken)

URIBE: Honestly, I've never voted, he says. What for? Nothing changes.

(SOUNDBITE OF SIREN AND RADIO ANNOUNCEMENT)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Spanish spoken)

URIBE: The death count in Juarez is recited each day on a local AM station. Two years ago, this city averaged eight murders a day. That's down to two or three. After a grueling period of daylight shootings, mass murder and rampant kidnapping, people here ache for a normal life. But many doubt this election will suddenly bring peace and prosperity.

(SOUNDBITE OF PAPER RUSTLING)

URIBE: At a small shop on the outskirts of town, Laura Aguilar watches a women paste peach tissue paper to a pinata she's about to take home. Her biggest concern right now is the economy.

LAURA AGUILAR: (Spanish spoken)

URIBE: Right now, there are no jobs, she says, and those who have one are poorly paid. Two of her children work at factory jobs, each making less than $40 a week. She doesn't expect the next president will change things.

AGUILAR: (Spanish spoken)

URIBE: One of the candidates can't even say how much a kilo of tortillas costs, she complains.

The owner of the pinata shop is Dina Moran. Her son was one of thousands murdered in the ongoing drug violence. He was a cop, she says, one who wanted things done right.

DINA MORAN: (Spanish spoken)

URIBE: Moran refuses to vote. What's the point, she says - the good guys end up in the cemetery and the ones who commit the crimes have the power.

Across the border in El Paso, Texas, Eduardo Diaz is one of thousands of Mexicans who calls this American city home. He's a chemical engineer who supports Mexico's fight against organized crime.

EDUARDO DIAZ: For many years in Mexico these people were allowed to do anything they wanted to do, as long as they provided funds for people in power. And right now, we're paying the consequences of that.

URIBE: Diaz maintains strong business and family ties to Mexico. He believes Mexicans must continue to fight hard for their democracy. Today, he and his family will make the trip into Juarez for one reason: to vote.

For NPR News, I'm Monica Ortiz Uribe reporting from Ciudad Juarez. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.