Mar 19, 2012

Drug War Damage: Mexico's children hope that "They don't kill me or cut off my head"

"From the mouths of babes"

La Jornada: "The levels of violence, especially in the north of Mexico, have, to a notable degree, permeated into the view of reality of children and young people, and into their perception of what they expect of the future:  "That it may be clean" ... "that they don't kill me" ... "no more crime" ... "no more shootings" ... "that they don't cut off my head" ... "that they don't kill my uncles" ... "that they don´t rob".

The above are responses of children between 6 and 9 years old, to a questionaire used by the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE), in preparation for the holding of its children's and women's consultation on April 29.

Carried out in 22 groups, the views of children between 6 and 15 linked to drug trafficking were explored. "Where do you feel insecure?"  "The street", invariably. "Why?" Because there may be a shooting ... with bullets" .... (Your fear?) "that they may rob me" ... "that I may find stray bullets"  .. "they may kill me with a bazooka" ... "that they kill my mom ... my family".

... And how to solve the problems? Perceptions vary among children by age, but the answers given to IFE present opposing solutions to the problem. "Speak with Los Zetas," replies a girl. "Ask them for help," is another answer. Others believe the way is to ask the police, the army and the navy to intervene in conflicts.

Appeal to police forces is not seen as a good option by all respondents, because "the police cause the problems" ... "I saw how they asked a guy for money ... yes, in the bus terminal to Mexico, the police came up to my grandfather and they took him somewhere and took his money, so I avoid going there, I'm afraid ... Sometimes the police are the ones that make the problems ... I see then asking for money ... Police cannot be trusted ... There are bad cops, I don't trust them."

However, there are other children for whom the answer to the problem of violence is simply killing those who create or belong to criminal gangs. "When I want to kill a man," says a child, "I exchange his gun for one of water, then he shoots me with the water, but then I take the pistol that he left and I kill him."

The consultation with the children and young people was conducted in Tijuana, Baja California; Campeche, Campeche; Torreon, Coahuila; Tepoztlan, Morelos; Merida, Yucatan and Mexico City.

Its aim was to research the situations where children feel more comfortable and confident (usually the home); where the risk areas are; whom do they trust; how do they seek to resolve problems; what decisions they make; how they perceive discrimination; their perception of change and the future.

... Their aspirations for the future. ... "That the politicians no longer be associated with the narcos, more equality, more social security, no more rape and unemployment , that there is no poverty and that the President change, that the police not take bribes and there is no discrimination."

About what they would like to be: .. the responses of of the children are linked to their current situation of insecurity and violence. "I would like to be a federal police or a soldier, in order to be between life and death." They want "to live without violence, that there are no shootings, that we may be safe ... have a peaceful future so that my children do not fall into this" ..." Spanish original

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