It's Thursday, Dec. 23, and I'm returning from Juárez, Mexico with volunteers from El Paso who have organized a Christmas festival for a dusty impoverished barrio where they have been providing assistance for years. Tito, a volunteer, opens a huge container of lemonade and hands out paper cups so we can give the lemonade to the dozens of vendors who eke out a living on the bridge connecting our two countries.
A crowd surrounds the battered van. One of the vendors has a baseball cap with the face of Jesús Malverde, the saint of the narcos, embossed on it. The presence of narcotics and narcotics-related violence is everywhere here. In 2009, for example, Juárez (with a population of about 1.5 million) had more murders than the combined total for New York, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Houston, Baltimore and New Orleans.
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