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Violence in Juchitan

“I wish I could say that things were getting safer here, but they are not. Business are being targeted a bit more than people on the street but there is a lot of street crime too.  One neighborhood in Juchitan has set up a neighborhood alarm system with panic buttons in each home and an agreement between neighbors to come running if a panic button is hit. About a month ago they detained three young men, two adults and one minor, who robbed a beauty salon with a knife.  They did not turn over the young men until the city sent a representative and agreed to provide more patrol on their streets.  Then the neighbors followed up with the police and magistrate to see that the young men were charged.   It is good to see an community organize around peaceful methods, in other areas criminals are being publicly humiliated or lynched because the people are so frustrated that there is no follow though from the justice system.  When one Facebook friend complained that only one neighborhood was getting attention one of the leaders commented, ‘You too can organize’.   No one is coming to help.”
No one is coming to help, it is a very scary thought, but if we do not do something ourselves then nothing will happen.  On Wednesday evening I became a victim of the ever increasing insecurity in Juchitan.  A friend and I were standing in the entrance to an narrow inner street, here they call them callejon, but they are not like the alleys where I grew up.  There are small narrow streets that are like a warren off the main blocks.  I don’t often travel them as only some go through to the next street and some end in courtyards.  Just take a look at Juchitan on any map program and you will see what I mean.  They are rarely wide enough for two cars to pass, so when my friend was going to show me a property for sale I parked on the main street and we walked 20 ft into the alley. As we stood and waited for the owner to arrive, two young men walked out of the alley towards us.  I noticed them but did not think much about them.  They came even with us, were almost past, when one shouted and each attacked one of us.  One grabbed the cellular phone out of my friend’s hand and the other grabbed my purse.   He had to pull hard because I wear it across my body but in less than 10 seconds the rings holding the purse to the strap snapped and I watched dumbfounded as they ran back into the alley.  The image of my black purse bouncing away with the thieve’s gait is stuck in my head. As luck would have it we were not in the neighborhood with the alarms and although the neighbors had us come into their gated yard and  gave us water to calm our nerves, the men were long gone.  The only good news of the afternoon was that I had my cell phone and car keys in my pockets so I did not lose them.
As I went through the process of reporting the crime and talking to people, no end of stories about street assaults came out.  I only made a report because my ID was stolen and I needed a report to apply for a new one.  The official who took my report said that it is out of hand, “Everyone here in Juchitan steals. No one follows through on prosecuting because the process for the victim is grueling. ” Outside the office people said that the justice system is so corrupt that nothing ever happens save for a payment to the officials or judge or harassment of the victim because the assailant’s family knows where you live.
The list of theft and assault seems never ending.  One woman was reporting her debit card stolen, it was taken from her hand, in the ATM section of the bank, at noon,  with 10 other people in line behind her.    A friend of mine asked her preschool class what their fathers do for a living and one four year old boy said, “My dad steals things.” Wednesday’s Facebook reported that the neighborhood alarms sounded once again on Tuesday night as two men tried to break into a home.  That same Wednesday a class mate of my oldest daughter was on his way home from school when two guys got on and robbed the bus. This weekend one of our students became ill with the Chikungunya, the new mosquito borne tropical illness in the area.  We could not contact her brother who lives in Juchitan because a month ago he was assaulted and his cell phone taken.   On and on it goes.
Back to my original point ….. No one is coming, no official cares,  we must organize ourselves to make our streets safer and we need people to rise up as leaders who will promote lawful and humane solutions.  Too long have our political leaders shown the path of take what you can get while you can get it, there is no development for jobs and a few years ago our biggest employer left town due to the social problems.  The government is not the solution to the problem, it is the problem, but as I told one of my students, governments are made of people and we can talk to them, but not to ask for help, to show them that what we are doing is working. I was angry before I was a statistic, now it is personal. No one is coming to help, but you too can organize.


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