- Title: Behind fence, Mexico's notorious Juarez is wary of Trump's wall
- Date: 4th January 2017
- Summary: CIUDAD JUAREZ, MEXICO (RECENT) (REUTERS) BORDER FENCE BETWEEN MEXICO AND THE UNITED STATES VARIOUS OF WORKERS INSTALLING SEGMENTS OF STEEL FENCE BORDER FENCE IN DESERT POLICE VEHICLE ON THE MEXICAN SIDE OF THE BORDER CHILDREN PLAYING NEAR THE FENCE MORE OF WORKERS INSTALLING SEGMENTS OF STEEL FENCE CIUDAD JUAREZ MAYOR, ARMANDO CABADA, DURING INTERVIEW (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) CIUDAD JUAREZ MAYOR, ARMANDO CABADA, SAYING: "Before 9/11 it was much easier for them (traffickers), they had kilometres and kilometres where they could do it (smuggle drugs), they crossed undocumented migrants through the river, you would see them doing it there and then escaping through the centre of El Paso. Now you don't see that, that is all in the past, now they have put up a wall, they have put in much more security, security cameras, a lot of technology."
- Embargoed: 19th January 2017 13:44
- Keywords: Donald Trump Mexico United States border wall Ciudad Juarez drug-trafficking
- Location: CIUDAD JUAREZ, MEXICO
- City: CIUDAD JUAREZ, MEXICO
- Country: Mexico
- Topics: Asylum/Immigration/Refugees,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0015XNZ6TJ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Mexicans overwhelmingly say they oppose the wall U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has promised to build along their northern border.
But in Mexico's Ciudad Juarez, where extensive fencing was erected by the U.S. to secure the border between 2007 and 2010, residents have a more nuanced view of what a wall can mean. They say the Juarez fence has both caused and relieved problems in the city and nearby areas.
Some say the barrier has made life in Juarez better, diverting drug and human traffickers to more remote spots where crossing the border is easier. Others say the high fence bred a new kind of crime in the city, encouraging drug dealers who find it harder to get wares across the border to divert some of their product to expanding and servicing a local market.
Juarez's newly elected mayor, Armando Cabada, sees both sides. He says the fencing, cameras, sensors and stricter controls on border bridges have stopped flagrant crossings of undocumented Mexican migrants into downtown El Paso, Texas, which sits just across the fortified border, in sight of his wood-panelled office.
"Before 9/11 it was much easier for them (traffickers), they had kilometres and kilometres where they could do it (smuggle drugs), they crossed undocumented migrants through the river, you would see them doing it there and then escaping through the centre of El Paso. Now you don't see that, that is all in the past, now they have put up a wall, they have put in much more security, security cameras, a lot of technology," said Cabada.
On balance, however, the negatives have outweighed the positives, he says. He notes that shortly after the wall was built, Juarez was plunged into a hellish war between cartels that made it the murder capital of the world, while El Paso remained the safest U.S. city of its size.
After the border got tighter, Cabbed said, "the narco traffickers had to battle much harder to cross their drugs into the United States, and a lot ended up staying here."
The increased local supply of drugs changed social dynamics in the city and addiction and petty crime soared, he said.
"Drug traffickers fought very hard to carry drugs into the United States and a lot of those drugs stayed here, so a local trade emerged which was in some ways very hidden, and it is true that there were cocaine addicts above all, and from this, heroin began to circulate, along with methamphetamines, marijuana and cocaine, and a local trade grew," Cabada said.
It is hard to isolate causes of the chaos that engulfed Juarez in 2008 when the Sinaloa and Juarez cartels fought over trafficking routes, but the belief that tighter controls contributed to the city's deadly, downward spiral is widespread among business leaders, security officials and politicians consulted by Reuters.
The city of 1.4 million saw murders rise from 336 in 2007 when work on the fence began, to 3,057 in 2010 when the work was mostly concluded. Only two people were murdered in El Paso in 2010, down from eight in 2006.
Last year, murders were back below 2007 levels and normal life has begun to return, but strong demand for methampehtamines in Juarez has triggered a local turf battle and a new spike in violence, Cabada and city security officials said.
Drug use in Juarez is among the highest in Mexico, government health surveys show.
A poll conducted in May by Baselice & Associates Inc for Cronkite News and other media groups spoke to 1,500 people in 14 border cities in Mexico and the United States. It found that 72 percent of respondents on the U.S. side and 86 percent on the Mexican side said they were opposed to building a wall.
Residents living in the working class neighbourhood of Anapra, on the western fringe of Juarez, are among the minority of Mexicans who would like to see more secure fencing.
"They are building the wall here and I think it is a good thing for the neighbours, because it gives us greater security for everyone here," said local, Antonio Mata.
"This won't do anything to stop people trying to cross over again, because they can cross over around that side too, the wall will not stop them, but it does bring greater security because here things will be calm, here nothing will happen, but in other places it will," added another local, Jorge.
Anapra sits on the edge of a rusting, low wire fence in place since the 1980s separating Juarez and El Paso, that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection is now replacing with 1.3 miles (2.0 km) of 15-foot-high steel bollard barricade.
Experts say fencing around El Paso is one of the factors behind a sharp drop in U.S. border guard apprehensions in the sector, to 14,495 last year from 122,256 in 2006, a drop partially attributed to illegal migrants shifting routes to less protected stretches of border.
Migrant flows are a fraction of what they were in the sector largely because of the greatly increased security presence including the fencing and a near doubling of border agents, the Washington Office on Latin America rights group said in an October report.
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