Drop in Juárez Murder Rate Is Bad for Funeral Business

The El Paso Times reported that as Juárez’s murder rate drops, funeral homes suffer, a story that elicited horrified reactions from the community.
Fri December 2, 2011 11:20 pm
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The dramatic drop in Juárez's murder rate is not good for everyone: funeral directors are hurting, the El Paso Times reported on Thursday in a story that read like a Slate pitch

“What represents a problem for {Juan H. Pharo, a funeral home representative} is now a relief for most of the people in Juárez, who have seen a decrease in the violence, particularly in the number of homicides in the city,” wrote Lourdes Cardenas.

Juárez has seen 1,818 homicides this year, down from last year’s high of 3,103 and 2,647 in 2009, according to figures provided by the local prosecutor s office. Since the cartel war ramped up in 2008, some 9,100 people have been murdered in Juárez alone.

For this level of violence, Juárez has received the unwanted title of “ Murder Capital of the World.”  And in January 2009, Sito Negron dubbed the city “Baghdad, Mexico” in the pages of Texas Monthly , writing that “More than 1,300 people were killed in Juárez in 2008. Let that sink in. It’s not just hit men and drug smugglers and corrupt policemen; it’s children, teenagers, innocent family members. They have been shot, burned, tortured, beheaded. Go to YouTube, search for ‘Juárez Sinaloa cartel,’ and see for yourself how similar the violence is to what has transpired in Baghdad.”

At the peak of the violence, a single weekend could see up to fifty homicides. Pharo, who works on commission, recalled those busy days: “
There were days in which we had 12 or 15 services per day. Today we have one or two per week.”

With homicide numbers dropping so dramatically, Pharo has had trouble adjusting financially. “Pharo said that it is good that the violence is decreasing because that is good for the city, but his pocket is resenting the change. ‘I have two children and I have to feed them,’” Cardenas reported.

Commenters on the newspaper’s website were outraged by the story. “This story is vulgar,” wrote Bobby De La Rosa. “This is one of those professions that we hope continues to struggle. Times might have been good for him a couple years ago but his good times came with the ultimate price for his customers,” wrote Sammy Carrejo.

Adrian Nunez saw something more sinister at work, writing “The story makes it clear that the violence wasn’t the problem in juarez...but the people that allowed the violence to flourish because of the mindset of its citizens to begin with.”

And on Twitter, El Pasoan Ray quipped, “I’m also a supporter of violent death and think it’s a shame there is a decline in such activity. #sarcasm.”

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