LIANE HANSEN, Host:
Unidentified Woman: (Spanish spoken)
JOHN BURNETT: Unidentified Woman: (Spanish spoken)
BURNETT: Three years into Juarez's long nightmare of lawlessness, the indices are still grim. In the first month of the new year, the city has already witnessed 200 deaths - about seven a day. Last year's death toll surpassed 3,000. Most of the homicide victims are young men believed to be associated with the two drug mafias warring for control of this valuable smuggling corridor. But there are many innocents.
OLGA ESPARZA: (Spanish spoken)
BURNETT: Father Francisco Aquilano, wearing the brown robe of the Franciscan order, smiled wearily as he spoke of trying to maintain his congregation's faith. He says they hold six funerals a month at his church.
FRANCISCO AQUILANO: (Spanish spoken)
BURNETT: Unidentified Man: (Singing in Spanish)
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BURNETT: Across town, in the Villas de Salvarcar neighborhood, workmen were pouring cement, laying sod, and putting stripes on baseball fields.
(SOUNDBITE OF HAMMERING)
BURNETT: Juarez residents have long complained about feeling abandoned by Mexico City. Jorge Luis Quintanilla was walking his dogs past the new complex with his granddaughter and he was clearly pleased about the addition to his working class neighborhood. But his satisfaction was bittersweet.
JORGE LUIS QUINTANILLA: (through translator) This is all good, but they didn't have to wait for this tragedy to give us a green space and other things for the community. It's late. They should have done it before, so the young people could have been playing sports instead of getting mixed up in gang things.
BURNETT: John Burnett, NPR News, El Paso.
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HANSEN: You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.
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