Patricia Martinez (right) reopened her business, Pacífico bakery, after two years of having it closed due to threats. (Alejandra Barrera/

Once the most dangerous city in the world, Juárez struggles to prosper again

CIUDAD JUÁREZ – Patricia Martinez welcomed two men into her “Pacífico” bakery in downtown Juárez one late afternoon in December 2010. She greeted them with a smile as she did with all her customers without imagining that the encounter would change her life forever. Martinez thought they were just customers shopping for some pan dulce or homemade food. While Patty – as her friends and family call her – stood behind the counter, one of the men approached her holding a gun in his hand and, told her in a hushed voice that they were demanding “la cuota,” an extortion payoff. The man said that if she wanted her family to be safe and her businesses to remain open she had to pay 2,000 pesos, or around $155, every week.

Rancho 3M provides shelter to 84 children. (Diana Arrieta/

Juarez’ drug-war orphans find sanctuary, education and hope at Rancho 3M

CIUDAD JUAREZ – The 10-year-old boy’s stable family life, his modest home, and a routine that included going occasionally with his parents to Peter Piper Pizza for dinner came to a catastrophic end when the drug war plaguing Ciudad Juárez struck home killing his entire family. Caught on the street in a crossfire of warring gangs, Juan dropped under a nearby parked van, covering his eyes. Everything turned fuzzy. When he came out from under the van, his father, mother and sister were dead and he was an orphan. A few weeks later, Juan boarded a bus with 12 other children en route to Rancho 3M to a private Christian orphanage and school founded by American missionaries in the nearby town of Guadalupe.

Mexico caravan for peace winds up in Washington

By José de la Isla

EDITOR’S NOTE: Influential Mexican writer and poet Javier Sicilia jolted that country’s public and political conscience last year following the murder of his 24-year-old son Juan Francisco Sicilia, and six others, by members of one of that country’s drug cartels by forming and leading a national movement to end the years-long domestic warfare between the government and drug syndicates which has already cost as many as 70,000 lives. The movement came to the United States to address our involvement as the cartels’ principal drug-user market, arms provider and multimillion-dollar partner, while the Mexican government’s counter-offensive has come at a price of additional victims — 10,000 missing and 160,000 displaced persons in Mexico alone. Hispanic Link’s Mexico Citybased columnist José de la Isla has been traveling with the Caravan For Peace and Justice and is filing dispatches covering its final week of U.S. travel and activities in Washington, D.C., which wrapped up this week. Episode I: 70,000 faces of the caravan for peace

NEW YORK, Sept. 6 — Before the historic Caravan For Peace with Justice and Dignity arrived at Riverside Church on the Upper West Side, local volunteers wearing white T-shirts with “#YoSoy132NY” brought refreshments and fruit for the 110 sojourners on the buses coming from Cleveland, Ohio.

The streets of Veracruz, Mexico. (©Miguel Angel Lopez Velasco)

Mexicans pay in blood for America’s war on drugs

By Molly Molloy and Charles Bowden

EL PASO – Children play in the pool, hamburgers and hot dogs sizzle on the grill. The exiles will be here shortly after their year in flight from a house full of dead people. Everyone at the party has dead people murdered in Mexico by the Mexican government with the silent consent of the U.S. government. There are 100,000 slaughtered Mexicans now. These gatherings will grow larger.