We, the undersigned, U.S. citizens and residents of El Paso, Texas and Las Cruces, New Mexico express our profound concern and dismay regarding the absence of public safety, the near-complete breakdown of the rule of law, and the humanitarian catastrophe in our neighboring city of Ciudad Juarez. The terror that now confronts the residents of Juarez, most of it a consequence of the climate of lawlessness created by drug trafficking, is endangering the future peace and prosperity of our binational region.
The Tragic Facts
Since 2006 the level of violence has been unprecedented, and Juarez has become one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Over 1,600 people were killed in Juarez in 2008, nearly 2,700 in 2009, and 2010 is on track to equal or exceed previous records. Since 2008 over 150 children under the age of 18 have been slain, including toddlers caught in the crossfire. Criminals acting with impunity have savagely raped, tortured, and executed hundreds of young women, disposing of their mutilated bodies in the desert surrounding Juarez. In 2009 there were 16,000 car thefts, of which 1,900 were classified as carjackings. In addition, disappearances, kidnappings, extortions, arsons, and assaults have become a daily occurrence.
The uncontrolled violence has devastated the economy of Juarez and seriously disrupted daily life. The dangerous climate has contributed in a significant way to a steep drop in new investment of capital, to diminishing productivity, to the closure of over 11,000 businesses, and to massive unemployment. Between 100,000 to 200,000 people have abandoned the city, with over 116,000 homes left vacant and many of them vandalized. At least 30,000 of the refugees have moved to El Paso.
Why Residents of El Paso and Las Cruces Should Care
It is in the interest of El Paso and Las Cruces to assist in all ways possible to quell the violence in Juarez. The three cities constitute one community and are deeply dependent on each other. Many people from El Paso and Las Cruces commute regularly to work in Juarez, to visit relatives, to shop, and to get medical and dental care. Many tuition-paying students from Juarez cross the border daily to attend elementary and secondary schools, as well as institutions of higher learning, on U.S. soil. The intense interaction between our three cities means an overall annual economic impact of billions of dollars in El Paso and Las Cruces. Juarenses annually spend over $1.2 billion in El Paso, and over 60,000 jobs El Paso rely upon the Juarez maquiladoras and other economic activity.
The Underlying Cause of the Violence
It is well documented that much of the Juarez violence is fueled by the various drug wars, those between cartels, those within cartels, and those between cartels and the governments of the U.S. and Mexico: wars that take the lives of members of drug trafficking organizations and those innocent of any involvement. Residents of El Paso and Las Cruces need to participate with our own government as well as with our Mexican neighbors toward finding a pragmatic and workable solution that ends the violence and restores order, law, and justice.
We can no longer afford to deny the overwhelming role that U.S. consumption of drugs plays in fueling the violence in Juarez and elsewhere in Mexico, or ignore that illicit cash and arms flows from the United States into Mexico play a direct and powerful role in sustaining the cartels and in fomenting the massive killing of people in our neighboring Mexican city.
Call to Action
It is time to recognize that the U.S. 40-year War on Drugs has been a dismal social, economic and policy failure. It has not achieved any of its goals. Narco-related violence along the U.S.-Mexico border is raging at unprecedented levels with no end in sight. We join many prominent Americans, including ex-U.S. secretary of state George Schultz , U.S. Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman, ex-presidents of Mexico Vicente Fox and Ernesto Zedillo, ex-president of Colombia Cesar Gaviria, and ex-president of Brazil Fernando Enrique Cardoso in calling for a comprehensive revamping of the failed War on Drugs waged by the United States and other countries.
We support a well-funded and aggressive U.S. national educational campaign to encourage people to refrain from the use of illegal drugs by connecting their use to cartel-related terror.
We support increased emphasis on treating substance abuse, including the building of more substance abuse facilities
We support U.S. drug policy initiatives that do not result in wasting government funds and empowering criminal gangs and trafficking organizations.
We advocate, as an important first step in drug reform, the repeal of the ineffective U.S. marijuana drug laws in favor of regulating, controlling and taxing the production, distribution, sale and consumption of marijuana by adults. The sale of marijuana in the U.S. black market contributes 50 to 70 percent of Mexico's cartel revenues.
We oppose unsuccessful militaristic approaches and demand that any future U.S. aid involve a rigorous accounting of allegations of human rights abuses and have strict performance metrics.
We support U.S. aid that is tied to social, educational and economic development in Mexico and support that country's fight to establish effective and just rule of law.
We call on the U.S. government to properly and without bias make decisions on applications from Mexicans seeking asylum from the violence in Mexico, as well as make use of other existing avenues available under U.S. law to ensure that all asylum seekers whose lives are in danger are not unjustly rejected.
Statistics cited in this manifesto are based on official and unofficial data widely reported in the media.
We, the undersigned, U.S. citizens and residents of El Paso, Texas and Las Cruces, New Mexico express our profound concern and dismay regarding the absence of public safety, the near-complete breakdown of the rule of law, and the humanitarian catastrophe in our neighboring city of Ciudad Juarez. The terror that now confronts the residents of Juarez, most of it a consequence of the climate of lawlessness created by drug trafficking, is endangering the future peace and prosperity of our binational region. We need action now.