Author Topic: Mexico's ghost towns  (Read 1838 times)

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Mexico's ghost towns
« on: September 19, 2015, 12:48:44 pm »
Mexico's ghost towns
Residents seeking asylum in US fear returning to deadly Juárez Valley
By Ignacio Alvarado Álvarez in Guadalupe, Mexico
Photos by Julián Cardona for Al Jazeera America
Published on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015

In the spring, the mayor of Guadalupe had dozens of homes and businesses in the downtown area painted in vibrant shades of pink, blue, green, orange and fuchsia. They are buildings that have been abandoned by their owners or burned remains after being torched by the owners’ executioners. Each dwelling is an insult; instead of portraying life, the fresh coats of paint give testimony to barbarity and impunity. It is the face of a cadaver dressed up with vulgarity.

Guadalupe is one of a handful of towns in the 55-mile Juárez Valley, along the Rio Grande. The region was a hub of cotton production in its heyday. But these days, Guadalupe is a ghost town, inhabited mostly by older residents who refused to leave their homes or poor ones who were unable to. In a town whose population was 10,000, authorities have reported more than 300 killed since 2008. Among the victims are mayors, former mayors, police chiefs and patrolmen, councilmen, businessmen, politicians and social activists. Many of those who weren’t killed fled.

Martín Huéramo is one of them.

Huéramo, 48, served as one of six members of the Guadalupe City Council. He and hundreds of other Juárez Valley inhabitants have found refuge in Fabens, Texas, while the United States decides if they should be granted political asylum, which is rarely given to Mexicans. They are all convinced that the terror in their hometown has nothing to do with a supposed turf war among drug cartels, as the government and mainstream media attest.

Instead, they believe, the massive violence was provoked by the government itself, at the behest of a handful of powerful investors. In the abandoned and burned-out remains of Guadalupe, former residents see a scorched-earth policy: The state colluded with capitalists and criminals, they say, to empty the area of both residents and industry so that large binational groups could swoop in and develop huge infrastructure projects on valuable borderlands rich in natural resources.