Friday, March 5, 2010

Cd. Juarez Friday Morning

There is definitely a new feeling in the air, caused by the strong presence of motorcycle police stationed at hundreds of intersections, and a lot more military and federal police patrols appearing much more randomly and frequently. The last time I saw this kind of highly visible presence of law enforcement, spread out extensively throughout a large area, was in March 1965, in Harlem, a few months after serious race rioting had shaken New York City. In other troubled city's I've been to law enforcement personnel were highly concentrated only in clearly strategic spots such as large public gathering spots or major government buildings, or else they moved in long convoys throughout potentially conflictive neighborhoods as a show of force.

The new visibility is not just for show: there were motorcycle police at virtually every intersection in Anapra, an area without heavy traffic, all the way to the end of the village. The deployment appears designed at least to reduce the huge spike in homicides occurring out in the open, in traffic, in broad daylight. If this extensive presence is maintained, it may not reduce the overall homicide rate much, but will certainly push it off the major streets, probably back to the neighborhoods where the victims live. If behind the scenes efforts to nab extortionists is as serious as this latest effort seems to be, I would expect a strong downward trend in extortions this year.

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