Life and Death on the Streets of Juarez

From the San Antonio Express - In Ciudad Juárez, the most dangerous and sinister city of the Western Hemisphere, the Plaza de Armas is one of the few public spots where ordinary people still congregate. The tiny park sits below the cathedral, eight blocks from the international bridge. It is an oasis of calm, community and shade trees in a city where more than 2,000 people have been killed by drug violence this year. When San Antonio Express-News photographer Jerry Lara and I visited the plaza about noon Sept. 16, Mexico's Independence Day, it was brimming with human life, from old vaqueros in white straw hats to young lovers entangled on the benches. A street photographer, with a white plastic horse as a prop, waited patiently for customers. In the gazebo, an amplified preacher belted out an off-key hymn of salvation, while shoeshine men and taco vendors plied their trades. Under a bright blue sky, a life-size bronze statute of Tin Tan, a native-son actor, sat grinning on a fountain's edge, a big cigar in hand. This was my third visit to Juárez in the past year. It's a creepy place on a good day. Here, it is impossible to evaluate risk, as the normal laws of human conduct do not apply. As Lara worked, I stayed close by, watching for camera snatchers. Read more here:


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