The Female Journalists of Juarez
You probably heard that there were presidential elections in Mexico on July 1. Most foreign media outlets reported that the main issue in the election was the insane violence that has caused anywhere between 40,000 and 80,000 deaths during the last administration because of turf wars between the drug cartels, the federal police, and the army. But the truth is, most of the candidates barely discussed the issue. In all three political debates during the campaigns, the candidates never mentioned the victims and just talked about “the violence” and “the organized crime” in abstract terms, and offered very vague solutions to the situation. The mainstream Mexican press focused on the economy and the student movement, but mostly, it seemed, on the personalities of the candidates.
It's pretty clear that the mainstream media in Mexico supported the PRI candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto, who will most likely be the next president, despite tons of allegations of vote-buying and fraud. But the violence is very real, and it will be the biggest issue on the new president’s plate once he takes office in December. We still have no idea what he's going to do.
The violence that escalated during Felipe Calderon’s term mostly took place in Ciudad Juarez, right on the Texas border. Over the last five and a half years, more than 11,000 people have been killed in Juarez. It’s thought that the violence escalated once the Sinaloa Cartel tried to kick out the local Juarez Cartel in order to control this entry point into the US. During the last year, the violence has decreased a bit, perhaps because the Sinaloa Cartel won, and perhaps because the federal police and the army, who were also fighthing the cartels, finally left.
We went to Ciudad Juarez to meet the journalists who cover politics and crime for the Diario de Juarez. All of them are women and they have covered more crimes than anyone we can think of. They are also some of the bravest women we've ever met. We followed them around the city as they covered political rallies of the ruling party, PAN, and to crime scenes, to try to understand what happened there over the past few years and why the candidates were not fully addressing the most glaring issue in Mexican politics right now.