POSTED: Friday, February 12, 2010 - 12:05am
UPDATED: Wednesday, March 10, 2010 - 4:50am
The President of Mexico paid a much-anticipated visit to Juarez, during which he was expected to lay out a plan to quell the violence in the city. President Calderon not only greeted by hundreds of protesters but also a dramatic turn of events, as the mother of one of the victims of the recent massacre confronted him.
It was a member of President Calderon cabinet who addressed the issue of more military being sent to the area to try to control the violence in the city. But President Calderon himself made no mention of any specifics. The plan he did present had to do with city improvements, things like creating jobs, paving roads, building parks and running day cares. At the same time, he did make mention of the importance of the government doing all it can to fight organized crime.
"We have to confront organized crime with all of the government's power," said Calderon.
That was one of the key points addressed by Calderon as he paid a visit to Juarez to address the violence that has plagued the city.
"That criminal dispute is a violent dispute over a territory and that violent dispute makes it necessary to have a government confront it and fight it," said Calderon.
President Calderon did not discuss sending more military to the area but rather, he focused his attention on several projects aimed at helping out the less fortunate, one of which is an expansion of a program called "Oportunidades", a program that had only served rural areas. "It's a program that determines the poorest people and helps them out financially, gives scholarships to kids to go to school and we are going to expand that program in Juarez to 25,000 homes," said Calderon.
During President Calderon's speech, the mother of one of the 18 people killed in a massacre at a birthday party two weeks ago went before him and demanded justice. "I cannot tell you welcome, Mr. President, because for me, you are not welcome. Nobody has been welcomed here for more than two years in this city. There are crimes and murders and nobody does nothing. I want justice for my sons and for the other students," said the woman.
The mother was not alone with her concerns. Several protests were held throughout the city in light of the President Calderon's visit, the biggest one at Universidad Tecnologica, where we're told more than 2,000 students participated. The protest started within school grounds but when demonstrators saw military in the area, they got in the middle of the street to prevent them from using the street.
"They say we are the future and they're trying to run over us. So, we feel threatened," said one of the protesters.
President Calderon, for his part, stressed that it's not the government the people should be mad at. "The biggest threat to human rights is not coming from the government or the military, it comes from organized crime," said Calderon.
Protesters say they see President Calderon's visit as more of a show than anything else. "I see the president's visit as a way to calm people down, but the reality is another. The reality is that nothing is going to change," said a demonstrator.
President Calderon's visit was brief, making his first appearance at around 1:00 p.m. and leaving back to Mexico City this evening. Calderon is expected to visit Juarez once again next Wednesday.