Needed: An “Iron Wall Of Bayonets” Between Mexico And the U.S.

Charles Bowden`s Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy`s New Killing Fields

is an effort to make sense of Mexico`s
downward spiral into a blood-drenched

failed state
. The

breakdown of Mexican society
is shown through the
microcosm of Ciudad Juarez, the city right across the
border from

El Paso, Texas.
In 2008, the year covered by
Murder City, no less than 1607 people were murdered in Juarez
(official population of 1.3 million).

Bowden`s book is full of powerful
and disturbing images. The author provides an excellent
feel for what it is like to live in Juarez during the current murder wave. The

lawlessness of Mexican society
is also well
described with a barely subdued rage in passages such as
this one:

“You can take a woman and rape her for days and nothing will happen. If
you choose, if in some way that woman displeases you,

you can kill her

her. Rest assured, nothing will happen to you
because of your actions.”

In Juarez, accused wife-beaters and
rapists are let off and offered
they are even apprehended.

When you read
Murder City
you can hear the screams of the executed victims, watch
as another

mass grave
is uncovered and the never-identified
corpses are quickly taken away by the

Mexican army,

ride shotgun
with a

professional contract killer—as he riddles a target`s
car with bullets.

The book`s most powerful scene: the

August 13, 2008

rehab clinic massacre
in Juarez in which eight
patients were killed by “armed
. Mexican army soldiers were parked right
outside the clinic, but took off once the shooting
started. After the massacre, ambulances refused to come
to take the wounded and the police cordoned off the
area, but declined to enter the scene of the crime.

Bowden describes a

makeshift memorial
in the clinic:

“I found this glitter in a room with flies buzzing off the fresh blood
on the floor and the walls. A candle glittered in the
corner by a crucifix. The bodies had been taken out, the
machine gun fire had died. There was nothing left but
the flies and the flame”.

An apt metaphor for present day

Bowden blames the Fox-Calderon
administrations for mounting an offensive against the
cartels thereby provoking the current turmoil. He flatly

Mexican police
(municipal, state, and federal) of
being in the pay of the drug traffickers and not doing
anything to prevent the violence. He tells the story of
a kidnapped traffic cop who escaped his captors and
crawled into a bakery seeking help—but when the owner
wanted to call the Juarez police, begged him not to and
later fled the city. After municipal police officers
began to be executed, the police announced that they
would not be responding to calls anymore, but would stay
in their stations. The ineptitude of
`s cops is illustrated by the fact
that they posted up ads in payphones to help them find a
kidnapped colleague.

State and federal police are no
better, according to the author. One of the main
subjects of the book is a former
sicario turned “born-again
who kidnapped and murdered his victims
while working as a Chihuahua state
policeman. Ironically, the hitman was officially part of
the state police`s anti-kidnapping unit. As for the
federal police, in April 2008, four federal policemen
were arrested in Juarez for

, causing a scandal,

molesting a woman
and assaulting
[other federal
police] agents”.

The Mexican army is no less
corrupt. When the army entered Juarez in force in early
2008, one of its first acts was to detain and

sexually assault
a municipal policewoman. Also, the

– a paramilitary drug trafficking
organization—were founded by Mexican army commandos and
became a murderously efficient private army. Bowden
reports it was originally

to be a
“new, pure force to fight drugs”
and was trained by
the U.S. government, but it quickly went rogue and
“joined the Gulf

Overall, according to the author,
“over a hundred thousand troops fled the

and joined criminal organizations in the
first decade
of the new century”.

Bowden shows the Mexican
government`s response to the violence to be laughably
inadequate. After the commander of a special police unit
was murdered, “…
Juarez officials decide to address the problem of crime.
They launch a campaign against jaywalking in the city”.

The fact that Mexico is broken down beyond repair is
illustrated by the striking fact that Juarez`s
mayor, the publisher of its daily newspaper, and other prominent
citizens live across the border in El Paso.

The atmosphere in Juarez is filled
with fear that rivals the worst days of

. Cops are afraid to leave their precincts,
shooting survivors are finished off in the hospital in
full view of the staff, and journalists do not identify
murder victims for fear of reprisal.

Murder City
lacks any meaningful analysis of the socio-political
situation in Juarez and its effect on the United States.
Bowden provides no

historical background
and barely analyzes the

causes of the violence.
There are scattered
interesting observations—Mexican soldiers
and dark
"[t]he officers
have lighter skin that
pigment steadily
as the rank gets higher until there
is the rarified air of the generals who look like

dropped in some colonial outpost”.

However, that is all we ever get about
ethno-racial composition of Mexican society.

Bowden comes across as a strident
critic of NAFTA (he accuses it of

and steal

American jobs
). But does not develop his
argument beyond a few sentences such:
“What Americans
got in return were cheap prices at


at home, and an

explosion of illegal immigration
into the United

Bowden does not address the issue
of immigration to the U.S directly. However, everyone he
spoke to who lived in America as an illegal alien was
engaged in some form of criminal activity and was in
jail. This, as well as the fact that so many subjects of
Murder City

heavy drinkers

users explodes the myth of the

immigrant who is in America to
jobs those lazy Americans will not

Overall, the book`s narrative is
very disorganized and hard to follow. We might read
about an incident in the beginning of the book, only to
be reminded of it in the middle, and have it described
again in the end of the book. The prose has an
annoyingly dream-like quality that does not fit well for
a non-fiction book. Further, Bowden injects too many
personal reminiscences and feelings.
Murder City
would be better as a magazine article or a travelogue,
not as a current affairs book.

However, for all the weaknesses of
Murder City, it serves as a warning to Americans about what is

happening just over the border
—and what kind of
society we will have if unchecked immigration from
Mexico is allowed to continue.

Already, the violence of Juarez is
spreading to this country. Phoenix, previously a favored
destination for young Northeastern professionals and a
jewel of the Sun Belt has become the
of the United States.

In El Paso, Carlos Spector

was the immigration lawyer
for Emilio Gutierrez
Soto, a Juarez journalist who wrote articles about
Mexican soldiers robbing civilians in Chihuahua and

fled Juarez for El Paso
after receiving

death threats
from a Mexican army general.
In El Paso,
on American soil,
Spector has been followed and menaced by Mexican army
officers. Similarly, the unnamed former
sicario that
Bowden interviewed is now on the run in America from his
former employers—but feels just as unsafe as in Juarez.


kidnappings, torture

, and

police corruption
will be daily features of the
American Southwest if measures are not quickly taken to
stem the deluge of illegal aliens. If it continues,
within a decade, parts of America will be just as
lawless and violent as Ciudad Juarez.

What we need
is an

“iron wall of bayonets”
—to adapt Vladimir
Jabotinsky`s term—between

us and the failed state of Mexico.

And if immigration enthusiasts
think that is
“discriminatory”, they should visit Ciudad Juarez and see what the
alternative is.

Eugene Girin
him] immigrated legally from the Republic of Moldova in
1994 at the age of 10. He has been published by

Front Page Magazine
, and
currently writes at

Alternative Right.