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Although the episodes took place in different cities and in different circumstances al the victims have c something in common: their youth. And sadly the barbaric executions at dawn on Saturday 23 October at Ciudad Juárez, the following day at Tijuana and finally (one hopes it is the end of these episodes) on Wednesday 27 at Tepic, are only part of a series of mass killings of the young.
And as though the deaths of these boys and girls were sufficient reason to be discouraged, even more dramatic is the fact that the perpetrators of the killings were also youths, assassins in the pay of criminal groups, who parade themselves as drug “bosses” and despotic kings who destroy whatever stands in their way of controlling a certain territory and of selling their poison. Poison which in the country bordering on the north some are determined to “legalise”.
Ciudad Juarez is not the only city suffering from the violence caused by rivalry between criminal gangs and by the unremitting war being waged by the Federal Government against these criminal groups; but perhaps it is the city most affected by this growing wave of death and desperation.
While the authorities, organisations of civil society, political parties, business people and intellectuals have still to agree in order to improve the widespread insecurity the young continue to suffer. It does not matter whether they are students, former drug-users in rehabilitation, drug pushers, their friends or relatives or simple citizens: in the end they were all young people.
The young are suffering because of a lack of opportunity and of the incapacity of society to offer the new generations a better world. In fact many of the young murderers become such precisely because they want to make some money, easy money, which then they easily throw away.
There are other States in Mexico which are suffering like Chihuahua, where Ciudad Juarez is to be found: Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Baja California, Sinaloa, just to name a few. Areas of the country where the people live with a great sense of sadness, not only because they look back to happier times when it was possible to live in peace, but because there is certainly much to be sad about: weeping for the death of a loved one; living in a constant state of siege; having to leave one’s homeland and emigrate to the United States, not because of poverty, but to avoid being kidnapped or killed for having refused to pay “protection money” to the criminal groups. If this is what happens to the “powerful,” what about the weak?
In this difficult situation – it is estimated that since 2006 about 2,200 young people have been killed in violent circumstances associated with organised crime– only a few people are trying to change things. Some are trying by political means, some by the media, some from the pulpit and some in ordinary life as men and women of peace.
The drug problem which afflicts Mexico is the result of decades in which the authorities and the criminals colluded. Nowadays the drug bosses are being pursued and hence the war. But it is also the result of fathers and mothers who ignored (in the broadest sense of the term) the education of their children allowing permissiveness and relativism to reign. It is the consequence of a personal inability to live according to the Gospel –and the majority of the population is Catholic.
This evil has its origins in a society which has not been able to produce a good standard of living for all its people, a situation which ahs caused a whole series of social problem. It is a sad society... a “society of sadness”.
Among the causes of the problem of the drug trafficking we should not forget to mention as contributory factors the almost total lack of interest on the part of other nations which in spite of their economic might, are not able to control consumption of drugs of which Mexico is the producer or at least distributor; without forgetting the lack of will to prevent the international arms trade, the arms which then come into the hands of the criminals who wander the streets of towns and cities and are pointed at the innocent.
Fortunately there are still some individuals and organisations taking an interest in doing something to change the situation. People and institutions which produce change. In this area there are also the Salesian oratories, present along almost the whole frontier with the United States: Tijuana, Mexicali, Nogales, Ciudad Juárez, Ciudad Acuña and Nuevo Laredo.
These oratories are a kind of “oasis” where the young people can –incredible though it may seem – feel safe and at home. Where they have the chance to play sport, grow in the faith, in artistic skills and for a while forget the violence around them. Working there are not only the Salesians, but many committed lay people.
But what can such small efforts achieve in the face of such a huge problem? A great deal because they represent the altarnative. An alternative in which a “Cheerful society” can still dream.