Lecture outlines problems in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico

Zabin Patel

Hector Dominguez-Ruvalcaba, an associate professor in the Spanish and Portuguese department at The University of Texas at Austin. At the Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies, 1902 Sheridan Road, gave a lecture to a room of about 20 students and faculty members who sat silently as a slideshow projected images of a devastated Ciduad Juarez, Mexico.

“This isn’t good,” he said. “It may make you cry,”

Ruvalcaba discussed the politics of terror imposed on the citizens of Ciudad Juarez by criminal organizations and the Mexican police force, which work together to deprive the local population of basic rights such as free speech, security and life. According to the 2010 Census, 18.5 percent of homes were vacant in the city. Between 2007 to 2010, there have been 4,500 homicides, and 10 percent of the population has emigrated due to violence.

Ruvalcaba argued a culture of violent masculinity that is dominant in modern day Mexican society and a police force that operates primarily on corrupted money laundered through the drug business perpetuated the civic decay.

“There is a perfect system of criminality working together with financial institutions, the police and military, in which they all benefit,” he said.

Ruvalcaba spoke of people whom he said police and military personnel beat, killed or raped.

“There is an unnecessary loss of life because there is a hate for people who are happy,” he said.

He told, for example, of a boy who was shot dead for laughing while on a drive with his father.

Ruvalcaba said globalization has spread the ideas of sexual slavery, illegal human trafficking and collaboration between law enforcement and criminals in countries throughout the world, including the U.S.

Mexicans are not committed to combating illegal activity because 30 percent of the Mexican economy depends on it, he said. The sale of narcotics brings Mexico more than $400 billion a year, according to Ruvalcaba.

However, former Mexican presidents and nonprofit organizations are trying to help the situation, Ruvalcaba said. Proposals to reduce crime include criminalizing drugs and legalizing migration from Central America to Mexico, which would decrease illegal trafficking, he said. However, making the drug trade unlawful would collapse the Mexican economy, he said.

Weinberg sophomore Rafael Vizcaino, a Mexican citizen, said Ruvalcaba’s humanitarian view of the situation drew him to the event. During the presentation, Ruvalcaba showed a video clip of an all-male Ciduad Juarez band that advocates the killing of innocent people, demonstrating how the Mexican media perpetuates the ideal masculine form.

“It is shameful but true,” Vizcaino said.

Ruvalcaba said the solution to the city’s problems will come from the community.

“It won’t come from the top,” he said. “It will be a grassroots movement.”

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