US Documentary Looks at Juarez’s ‘8 Murders a Day’

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An upcoming documentary by a U.S. filmmaker pledges to look at the human side of the record violence hitting Ciudad Juarez, a border city which has become the epicenter of Mexico’s drug war. “8 Murders a Day,” directed and produced by independent filmmaker Charles Minn, is opening in select theaters in Texas and Arizona in February.

According to the film’s website, Minn interviews college professors, local journalists and authors to put the Juarez violence in context, most likely for a U.S. audience with limited knowledge of the conflict.

Minn has called the city’s soaring homicide rates “the greatest human rights disaster in our world today.” The film takes its title from the daily murder rate registered in Juarez last year: 3,111 murders, or about 239 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, for a city with a population of about 1.2 million. So far in 2011, that average stands at six murders a day. Over 130 people have been killed in the city as of January 24, according to EFE.

The city is a batteground between the Juarez and Sinaloa cartels, although much of the violence is generated by street gangs like La Linea or the Aztecas, who sell their alliances to the warring factions. 

Projections from the Mexico-based Center for Social Investigations (CIS) state that murders in Juarez may again surpass 5,000 by the end of 2011. The Institute had previously estimated correctly that killings in the city would reach 3,000 in 2010.

The homicide rate has also spurred mass migrations from Juarez into the U.S. According to an October 2008 report by the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). An estimated 230,000 people fled the city between 2008 and 2010.

On Sunday, at least five people were killed in Ciudad Juarez while playing soccer at a community center funded by the “Todos Somos Juarez” (We Are All Juarez) social program. Another five people were also killed in other parts of the city, bringing Sunday’s homicide total to 13. El Diario also reported Monday that authorities found the bodies of two women, one of whom apparently had been stoned to death. 

President Calderon insituted the Todos Somos Juarez program after gunmen stormed a birthday party in February 2010, killing 15 people. Local media saw the massacre as a case of mistaken identity, and Calderon caused an outrage in the city after commenting that those killed may have had links to drug traffickers. The $270 million Todos Somos Juarez rescue package is supposed to compliment the military offensive in Juarez, one of the most intensive in Mexico. Calderon first deployed 2,026 members of the armed forces to Chihuahua state in March 2008, followed by another deployment of 5,332 soldiers to Ciudad Juarez a year later.

The fact that murders have not reduced in Juarez, despite the massive military presence, has lead some crime analysts to argue that it is precisely the troop surge which has created surging violence.

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