Murder City

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ciudad Juárez sits across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas. Once a thriving border town, it now has a murder rate that exceeds that of Baghdad—in 2009 more than 1,986 people were killed in Juarez. Charles Bowden, one of the few journalists who’s spent extended periods of time in Juárez, describes what’s happening in that disintegrating city. In Murder City: Cuidad Juarez and the Global Economy’s New Killing Fields he interweaves stories of Juarez’s residents with a broader meditation on the town’s descent into anarchy, its culture of violence that he warns will spread north.


Charles Bowden

Comments [28]

Jan McLaughlin from North NJ

When I first heard of "NAFTA" I knew in my heart something like this would be the result. Wept to hear the reality is worse. Heartless, multinational corporate empire. What is there to be done?

Apr. 20 2010 11:48 PM
The Deportee's Wife from Mexico

Thank you very much for this amazing interview. As a deported man's wife living in Mexico, I applaud Charles Bowden's incisive comments. In my opinion, his analysis is spot-on.

I have a blog about my experience of living in Mexico as a result of my husband's deportation. Recently, I've been blogging more frequently about how drug war is expanding into my neck of the woods, the city of Cuernavaca.

Please feel free to visit my blog:

Thank you again for a fantastic interview!

Apr. 20 2010 07:53 PM
pete from bedford,ny

One of the all-time great closing quotes by an author - "I can now go to the whiskey bars and read poetry and let the New York Times take over." Superb interview!

Apr. 18 2010 08:13 AM
Liz from New Jersey

Heard this while driving from a doc appointment, and I just had to sit in the parking lot at work to hear out the end of the segment-- what a wonderful, fascinating interview! I think I could listen to Mr. Bowden talk for hours. Thanks for this segment.

Apr. 16 2010 12:33 AM
Dan O from Chelsea

Strong enough stuff as to leave my hair permanently curled.

Apr. 15 2010 12:51 AM
Creu Jistu from Estados Muertos

Isn't this a sign there are JUST TOO MANY PEOPLE being born and released into the wild to live like feral animals? Obviously human life has no value, either to big business or to the drug cartels.

Where is the Pope on this? catholics do whatever he says. (Oh wait, he's got OTHER troubles right now) Condoms and free abortions would help put a dent in this problem...well, in about 20 years it will help!

Apr. 15 2010 12:14 AM
peter from vancouver

awesome segment

Apr. 14 2010 11:50 PM

great guest, thanks leonard.

Apr. 14 2010 08:42 PM
jacobo from Mexico

It is unfair to blamie the drug and corruption only to Mexico, when the end users are in the USA. While the majority of decent Mexican nationals are suffering the effects of the drug trade to the USA, no great caches of drugs are made in the US and the consumption and traffic of weapons to be used by the drug bands are at their fullest.

Apr. 14 2010 03:51 PM
Eugenia Renskoff from Williamsburgh, Brooklyn

Hello, It is very sad that the drug problem in Mexico is killing and will kill so many innocent people. As far as the police not being any help, I know from other countries in LatinAmerica that it is only too true. Someone posted a comment about corrupt taxi drivers in Mexico City. Again, I have heard of this in other parts of the region. Eugenia Renskoff

Apr. 14 2010 01:52 PM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

Great guest. The next scene in this tragic drama is happening here in the US as the killings cross's the boarder deep into our country.

Apr. 14 2010 12:51 PM
CH from Manhatan

To the elite in Mexico, Mexico is simply there to be exploited and used , extracted for its wealth it is not their land , people or society so they see no need to develop the country.

Apr. 14 2010 12:42 PM
alex from Brooklyn

Baron, reading 2666 right now and this sounds very creepy in relation. I can't think of a thing that Bowden mentioned that I disagree with.

Apr. 14 2010 12:40 PM
george from nyc

very wonderful guest

Apr. 14 2010 12:39 PM
manny from brooklyn

I'd love to hear Bowden give some policy solutions that could help curb urban violence? do we need to address institutions, political, or fiscal policy? can we use community organizations or police reform? are any of these issues being addressed?

Apr. 14 2010 12:37 PM
CH from Manhatan

Mexico is suffering under an apartheid system whereby the elite and powerful are white and the masses are of indigenous decent. Until this disparity in power and national identity is resolved , this type of violence (which seems to bypass the native looking Mexicans it seems)
this type of violence will remain part of mexican society. The elite in Mexico dont care about the country because they dont feel they are part of it

Apr. 14 2010 12:34 PM
baron from brooklyn

Anybody read Roberto Bolano's 2666?

It's fiction that is sounding eerily like Bowden's real experiences.

Apr. 14 2010 12:34 PM
The media

What ha been the effect of the war on print and tv media? Are there any clever workarounds, like tweeting reports of murders, using other social media, radio, and etc?

Apr. 14 2010 12:30 PM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from Langley, VA

Why hasn't the Mexican Gov't declared Marshal Law and cleaned out each city one by one?

Why hasn't President Obama sealed the border so that the drugs, crime and violence as well as illegals and potential terrorists are prevented from being imported into the US?

And there is little "arms trafficking" going on between the US and Mexico. The drug gangs want fully automatic weapons and get them from corrupt Mexican police, National Guard and military sources. They can't get those guns from the US civilian market, let alone the grenades, explosives and missile launchers that they also crave. Some of these weapons are coming from Cuba and Venezuela - two countries with insane leaders who will do anything to destabilize democracy in the Western Hemisphere and hurt America.

Apr. 14 2010 12:27 PM
The Truth from BKNY

I would not go to Mexico if someone gave me a free trip all expenses paid...why are people still going over there?

Apr. 14 2010 12:26 PM
The Truth from BKNY

Did I just hear him call them a "ignorant people with no education"

Apr. 14 2010 12:24 PM
Brian Driscoll from NYC

How is El Paso being affected by the problems in Juarez?


Apr. 14 2010 12:21 PM
Mexico City

Mexico City is not "nice." You can't just get into a cab in the city for fear that the driver will take you to an appointed place where his friends will rob you. Everyone lives behind massive walls. The water system is broken and the air quality is miserable.

Apr. 14 2010 12:19 PM
Rick from Manhattan

Charles sounds so optimistic!

Apr. 14 2010 12:14 PM
Sbrand from Maplewood, NJ

I grew up in El Paso, TX.
NAFTA indeed RUINED the beautiful symbiotic relation that El Paso had with Juarez.
It also destroyed the environment, created insane migrations, etc.
Any Mexican national who could afford it has now moved to the US side - the school crowding is over the top.
The colonias in Jaurez are visible from the US side. So stark.

Apr. 14 2010 12:13 PM
Jennifer J from Chinatown

I hear a lot of pro-marijuana people suggesting that legalization would solve all of this. From what your guest is saying this is a pittance compared the the greater issue of NAFTA and hard drugs.

Apr. 14 2010 12:12 PM
JP from NJ

We had the crack epidemic in the 80’s. It was bad, real bad. We have quickly forgotten how violent this country became during that time. A lot of people died form the violence that erupted. But the national guard wasn’t called out and the country did not go into lockdown mode nor were government officials being gunned down on a daily basis. Please ask isn’t the majority of the problem with Mexico is that their government is insanely corrupt from the federal branch all the way down to local?

Apr. 14 2010 12:09 PM
shaun from nyc

A topic well worth a look, one with many different angles. Lisa Guaqueta, for one, takes a look at the problem in Ciudad Juarez from the perspective of US and Mexico arms trafficking and regulation.

Apr. 14 2010 11:05 AM

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