I learned from Noel Maurer's Blog that Ciudad Juarez used to have a low murder rate before 1993, but it rose steeply after the local leader of the Juarez Cartel, Aguilar Guajardo, died, and Amado Carillo replaced him. After Amado Carrillo had firmly established himself thing calmed down somewhat, but by then the violence had switched to a new equilibrium. But anyways, go read Noel Maurer's take on it
- The homicide rate in Ciudad Juarez was not different from other border cities.
- The homicide rate for women, while certainly higher than average for Mexico, was lower than in other large urban areas and not significantly different from other border cities.
- Ciudad Juarez is not poor or particularly unequal as measured by its gini coefficients relative to other Mexican municipalities.
What about the other big border cities?
Why did Ciudad Juarez acquire such a bad reputation:
- The big increase in murders when the Juarez Cartel switched owners. And since the homicide rate for women increased even faster than for men, people started freaking out, even if it was well below other cities in Mexico.
- virtually all the victims were poor, young, slender women with cinnamon skin and long dark hair Missing pretty girl syndrome. Young attractive women are given a disproportionate attention when they go missing. In thruth the age of the victims was no different in Toluca than in Ciudad Juarez, but various organizations played up the pretty young girl part. Most recently the MAC makeup line had to apologize for its cosmetics line quinceanera inspired by Ciudad Juarez.
- The anti-globalization movement latched onto the killings to show the evils of free trade since they increased around the time NAFTA came into effect.
In the next chart I chose to include the montainous and very rural municipality of Badiraguato since a lot of cartel leaders have come from this municipality in Sinaloa. There's some doubt as to whether the current leader of Juarez cartel, Vicente Carrillo, was born in Mexico City or Sinaloa but his uncle and former leader of the Guadalajara Cartel, Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, was born in Badiraguato. Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, was also born in Badiraguato
- There were a lot of births to single mothers (single as in not partnered, as opposed to those unmarried mothers living in a domestic arrangement). Divorce also tends to be more common in the northern states, but it is still low by international standards.
- Chihuahua along with Coahuila had the highest unemployment rate in 2009 (Ciudad Juarez is not part of the urban areas covered in the unemployment survey). But I'm sure part of the reason was the incredible rise in violence that started in 2008. Before the drug war, the whole border region had experienced the highest economic growth rates in all of Mexico.
Hopefully I convinced you that the current violence levels in Ciudad Juarez weren't due to a long process of social decomposition contrary to how the Mexican government is trying to portray it:
The deterioration of values and evidently the expression of violent criminality in Mexico, was not a phenomenon that appeared suddenly, or that occurred fortuitously in our country; it was the fruit of a very long process, that today is showing, precisely, this grave result for the country, but it wasn't something that happened suddenly.There's no question that the equilibrium of violence can shift over long periods but what happened in 2008 was a sudden shock, not the fruit of a long process. Reasons to believe otherwise have no basis in objective reality.