Author of ‘Murder City’ discusses mayhem in Juarez at CSUN

Andres Aguila

Charles Bowden, author of the Journalism Department semester book, “Murder City,” spoke to a full room of people Tuesday at the Oviatt Library presentation room.

Mostly journalism students attended and listened as the author spoke about his book, the city of Juarez, and the role of journalism in covering in a hostel city.

“’I have spent my life trying to learn,’ saying this, I hope that message resonates with you guys, with journalism students because that’s what journalism is really all about,” said Dr. Jose Luis Benavides, Journalism Department chair and associate professor, before introducing the author. “You want to be a life long learner. You want to be curious about the world.”

Along with Bowden, Molly Molloy, a librarian from New Mexico State University and border and Latin America specialists, gave statistics and showed newspaper photos of the violence in the city of Juarez.

According to Molloy’s statistics, the murder rate in Juarez is 200 per 100,000 people, compared 14 per 100,000 people in Mexico.

There have been 10,000 businesses closed, 27 percent of houses have been abandoned and 60,000 families have fled to the United States.

In 2007, there were 307 people killed, 1,623 in 2008, 2,660 in 2009, 2,237 in 2010 and as of Nov. 4, there have been 1,766 people killed in Juarez.

“These are impressive numbers and this is an incredible phenomenon,” Benavides said.

Bowden then talked about how those murdered could not all be part of the drug cartel.

“I don’t know exactly what’s going on. I don’t have a silver bullet. I don’t have a simple thesis. I just know that people just like me or just like you are getting slaughtered and everybody says they’re drug people. And that’s not true. You can take that statement of ‘they’re drug people’ and put it in a pot and grow tomatoes,” said Bowden.

Molloy shared a PowerPoint presentation filled with statistics on the massacres happening in the city – including how only 95 percent of 2,000 murder cases, those found dead did not have any weapons in their possession.

“We have to study this so that we will know what the truth is and what happened because most of these stories disappear,” said Molloy.

Molloy said the photos being shown are terrible and horrifying but should be preserved and shown because it is authentic proof of what is happening in Juarez.

Showing images of body’s hanging, victims laying dead, decapitations and kids riding their bikes by a crime scene showing how “life goes on.”

According to Molloy, more than 70 journalists have been killed in Mexico; 12 in 2010, including Armando Rodriguez, who was mentioned in the book.

There are also journalists who are seeking political asylum in order to leave Mexico.

Questions were then asked, including why he chose to dedicate “Murder City” to Armando Rodriguez.

“You’re being paid to report. To come back so people are alert. Because we can’t make this damn thing work unless people know what’s going on. That’s why we want you to be fair. You know, leave your prejudice in the saloon or some place, but that’s the job. Armando Rodriguez did it,” said Bowden.