May 23, 2011
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According to one Latin American business magazine, the city of Monterrey in northeastern Mexico was the safest city in Latin America 5-6 years ago. Unfortunately the drug related violence now means Monterrey is given a special mention in both the U.S. State Department’s and the British Foreign Office’s travel warnings on Mexico. I don’t keep a record of the killings but they seem to happen almost daily alongside many other terrible and disturbing acts. For me second only to the violence itself, is seeing people living in fear. Fear disables people. People can’t think, speak or move freely.
Scared to say certain names, scared to discuss certain topics, scared to talk to strangers, scared because you don’t know who is who and who is talking to who, scared to leave your home after a certain time, scared to go to certain places, scared of the roadblocks, scared of the carjackings, scared of the robberies, scared of the extortion, scared of the kidnappings, scared of the disappearances, scared by the stories of torture, decapitation and mass graves, scared of the men in their masks with guns almost as big as their bodies, scared because you have no trust in the political structures or the security forces that guard them, scared of the nightly bursts of indiscriminate automatic gun fire.