Tuesday, August 3, 2010

U.S. Consulate Reopens

The U.S. Consulate Offices in Cd. Juarez reopened today after closing for four days for a "security review." The closing of the consulate raised the level of fear to new heights even for Juarez, particularly when citizens were advised to stay away from the area surrounding the building after a bomb threat against the facilities.

The reopening of the building is likely to sooth some of the fear that has gripped this city ever since a car bomb went off on a busy thoroughfare downtown, killing four people, accompanied by narco-messages painted on walls, apparently by a drug organization, threatening more car bombs. These fears were amplified in the public mind when the Consulate closed its doors, and after a fragmentation grenade went off as federal police were approaching an abandoned vehicle on a street (a phenomenon that for good reasons in Juarez sends up red flags), a scene witnessed and recorded by reporters and photographers who had learned about the incident. No one was killed but the explosion was photographed by frightened reporters and was seen by viewers in El Paso, Las Cruces, and Juarez (some of the coverage was near-hysterical), increasing the generalized fear.

As if this were not enough, a riot between rival gangs (the Doble A and the Azteca gangs) at Cereso jail in Juarez, which sent smoke pluming through the air visibly, and an unusually high death toll of 27 murders over the weekend, punctuated the lack of security in the city. While it is only prudent for citizens to proceed with caution and to be aware of their surroundings as they go about their daily business in Juarez, it appears the immediate danger of a car bombing going off in public is less likely than many people fear or imagine even though it remains a distinct possibility.

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