- Title: MEXICO: Violence in Ciudad Juarez overshadows Day of the Dead celebrations
- Date: 3rd November 2010
- Summary: MUSICIANS PLAYING IN CEMETERY / ABANDONED TOMBS
- Embargoed: 18th November 2010 12:00
- Location: Mexico
- Country: Mexico
- Topics: Crime / Law Enforcement,Arts / Culture / Entertainment / Showbiz
- Reuters ID: LVA30CAQPHZKDFRB4C7IXXMI11FQ
- Story Text: For residents in Mexico, the annual Day of the Dead celebration is a joyous celebration but this year's festivities on Tuesday (November 02) in Mexico's most violent city, Ciudad Juarez, were somber after almost 30,000 people have died in drug violence across Mexico.
Mexico's Day of the Dead is an annual celebration that blends Catholic rituals with pre-Hispanic beliefs that the dead return once a year from the underworld. Residents leave offerings for their loved ones including favorite food and beverages.
At the San Rafael cemetery in Ciudad Juarez, earth on top of tombs is fresh and recently overturned. Some crucifixes are new and there are flowers on others but few residents visit the cemetery.
A relative of one of the young slain party-goers last week, Julio Zaldivar, said the event no longer represents a joyous occasion.
"I think it's painful for the city, because it's no longer a celebration. Before, we died of old age and now it's different. Now youngsters die."
Julio Zaldivar lost a daughter and four nephews after 14 people were killed at a family birthday party last Friday in the Mexican city that is the epicenter of the country's drug war.
"They were twins, one was left behind. They killed her, a 17-year-old girl. "What could she have done? It's brutal, what they are doing. Now, they are vicious to people who get into trouble but why do they get involved with innocent people? Why?"
The shooting in Juarez on Friday was the second massacre at a party this month in the city across from El Paso, Texas. Ciudad Juarez has become one of the world's most violent cities since drug cartels launched a turf war there in early 2008. Almost 7,000 people have been killed in the city since then.
"No, it's not a celebration in Ciudad Juarez anymore. Every day, you have seen what violence is like in Juarez. One can't live in Ciudad Juarez anymore. I want to take my family somewhere else, because there is a lot of violence in Ciudad Juarez and authorities don't do anything," said a friend of one of the murdered victims, Alberto.
As musicians play, the cemetery, which would be normally crowded on this day by residents accompanying their deceased loved ones, now looks empty.
Calderon sent some 10,000 troops and federal police to Ciudad Juarez in 2008 to fight the cartels, but killings have surged since then and even a switch of security operations to federal police from the army has had little impact.
More than 200,000 people, mainly wealthy and middle-class residents, have fled the city of some 1.5 million people.
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