Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Army to Stay in Juarez Six More Weeks?

This afternoon the City Council of Juarez approved a measure requested by Mayor Reyes Ferriz, permitting him to sign an accord with the Mexican Department of Defense that would prolong the stay of the Army in Juarez until November 1. A condition of the measure is that Governor Jose Reyes Baeza and the state of Chihuahua must be a party to the agreement. Governor Baeza was in Juarez yesterday and indicated he would meet in Chihuahua, probably next week, with the Mexican Secretary of Defense and the Justice Department (Gobernacion)to determine just when and under what conditions the Army will cease its policing functions in the state.

The council approved an expenditure of about $1 million (US) to cover the salary costs for the six extra weeks the troops (which number about 7500) will remain in Juarez.

In recent days the armed forces have made a number of important arrests of assassins and there is a general feeling that the presence of the troops, combined with intelligence collection, is beginning to make a difference. On the other hand, the unprecedented crime wave this summer, which catapulted Cd. Juarez into the dubious honor of becoming the homicide capital of the world and intimidated the local population with high rates of kidnappings and extortion of businesses, caused many citizens to question the effectiveness of the presence of the army.

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