For the families of the victims, the memory of the massacre of Villas de Salvárcar in Ciudad Juárez lives on but the memorial erected to commemorate the horrific violence is in disrepair.
On January 31, 2010, a group of about 60 youths was celebrating a birthday party in a house at 1310 Villa del Portal street in the tranquil neighborhood of Villas de Salvárcar when they were attacked by a criminal gang. At least 20 hitmen pulled up in half a dozen vehicles and opened fire, killing 16 and wounding 12.
The victims were all between 15 and 20 years old.
Among those victims were two of Luz María Dávila’s sons: José Luis, 15, and Marcos, 19. “They were together all the time, and together they left,” she lamented in an interview with the newspaper Milenio.
Their home was nearby, close enough for Dávila to hear the gunshots. When she arrived at the scene, one of her sons was already dead; the second died the next morning in hospital.
The 16 deaths came at a turning point for the people of Juárez, tired of the steadily increasing violence affecting their lives.
In 2008, the city recorded 1,600 homicides. In 2009 there were 2,600 and in 2010 the number rose to 3,000.
It was in that context that the program Todos Somos Juárez (We’re all Juárez) was created, with a focus on five themes: education, health, economy, labor, social development and security.
Medical doctor Arturo Valenzuela was member of the last one: “. . . we turned the great pain we suffered into awareness, and our awareness into participation.”
The progress achieved by the program was seen in declining murder numbers: homicides in 2011 decreased to 1,203, a trend that continued. By 2013, that figure had dropped to 181.
Of the 36 people accused of the killings, only five have been convicted. A sixth was released after the Supreme Court found his statement had been obtained under duress and through the use of torture.
As for the motive for the massacre, it has been suggested that it was a case of mistaken identity as one drug gang attempted to settle accounts with another. Another theory was that some of the youths at the party were gang members themselves, and were being targeted by rivals.
The house at 1310 Villa del Portal became a memorial of sorts for the fallen youths, but time has taken its toll. The single word “justice” can still be read on a faded mural. Sixteen stones inscribed with the names of the youths lie near a small wooden cross in a front yard strewn with garbage.
Over time, agree the neighbors, the house has lost its symbolism.
A few meters away from the forgotten memorial is a sports facility that was built by the federal government, a place where dreams can begin for local youths.
Trainer Jorge Gánem declared that investing in sports is the best way to counter violence.
“We must channel their energy and enable their dreams to keep them away from the hell that is crime,” he said.
Source: Milenio (sp)