MANUEL BENAVIDES, Chihuahua, Mexico — Mexico swears in a new president on Saturday. And the hope is Enrique Peña Nieto will be able to boost the economy and stabilize security. Both might be achieved if the nation ends its war on the drug cartels. In northern Chihuahua, citizens explain their hopes for a new government and their yearning to live without terror.
The people are friendly and welcoming in the remote village of Manuel Benavides, a beautiful place near the U.S.-Mexico border but about two hours southeast of Presidio, Texas.
Bullet holes pockmark the walls of an abandoned tienda near Manuel Benavides, Chihuahua, Mexico.
But everyone’s terrified. No one wants to speak. Like much of Chihuahua, like much of Mexico, the truth is elusive, opaque and silence is the best policy.
Public radio reporter Lorne Matalon, federal public defender Liz Rogers, Big Bend Gazette publisher John Waters, and station manager Tom Michael conduct a KRTS roundtable on borderland issues, including drugs, immigration, and international politics.
You can podcast Lorne Matalon’s recent KRTS News reports on Mexico here.
Mexican soldiers patrol Ojinaga, Chihuahua, Mexico, during the anniversary of the Mexican Revolution, November 2012. KRTS photo by Lorne Matalon.
The Mexican Supreme Court recently ruled that General Manuel de Jesus Moreno Avina, who was in charge of the Ojinaga military garrison for 18 months – beginning in 2008 – should be tried for human rights crimes in a civil court. This would mark a departure from what the constitution currently stipulates: that military crimes be tried before a closed, secret military tribunal.
For KRTS News, Lorne Matalon reports from Ojinaga, Mexico.
A patrol on the streets of Ojinaga, Chihuahua, Mexico during celebrations for the anniversary of the Mexican Revolution. (Lorne Matalon)
Mexico is celebrating the 102nd anniversary of the start of the Mexican Revolution this week. In Ojinaga, citizens are paying homage to the past but also to the future. This week, a leak of documents in Mexico City shows that a disgraced former Mexican general will be tries in a civilian court rather in than a closed military trial. Citizens remain scarred by the reign of terror allegedly unleashed by Major General Manuel de Jesús Moreno Aviña. He stands accused of systematic abuses in 2008 and 2009 in Ojinaga, Chihuahua. According to the Mexican daily Reforma, General Moreno Aviña is responsible for at least seven summary executions and deciding which detained individuals would disappear.
KRTS General Manager spoke with reporter Lorne Matalon after he returned from Ojinaga.