By Luis Chaparro
CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico – The families of the victims are still living in fear of drug traffickers and feeling exposed two years after the massacre of 15 young men attending a birthday party in the Villas de Salvarcar section of Ciudad Juarez, a border city in northern Mexico.
Luz Maria Davila, whose sons, Marcos and Jose Luis Piña Davila, were murdered on Jan. 31, 2010, said the situation in the neighborhood was “the same” and people were still afraid.
“The government has not done anything. Everything’s the same here and the same stuff as always keeps happening,” Davila, who made headlines when she confronted President Felipe Calderon during his visit to the border city to demand justice, told Efe.
The new playing fields, park and memorial garden for the victims have visibly changed Villas de Salvarcar, but residents say the presence of criminals keeps people off the streets.
“The park and the playing fields are all really pretty and covered with federal government logos, but it’s a shame because we cannot enjoy them. Not long ago, some young men were killed on the soccer fields,” a woman who testified at the trial of the men convicted of the massacre said.
The five men convicted in connection with the Villas de Salvarcar massacre got 240 years in prison.
Since the Jan. 31, 2010, killings in Villas de Salvarcar, there have been two other massacres in the area.
On Jan. 23, 2011, seven young men playing soccer on a field built as part of the federal government’s “Todos Somos Juarez” community development program were gunned down.
Gunmen killed 15 young men on Oct. 23, 2010, at house in Villas de Salvarcar.
The “Todos Somos Juarez” program, which was implemented in February 2010 in response to the Villas de Salvarcar massacre, completed 160 projects dealing with business promotion, jobs, health, education and social development within 100 days.
So far, the federal government has invested 3.38 billion pesos (about $277 million) in projects in Ciudad Juarez, located across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas.
The government’s goal is to bolster security, education, sports, health, social development and employment in the border city, officials said.
Grassroots organizations and residents, however, report little progress and contend the government has only gone half way in completing promised projects.
“We are asking for justice for all of us who live here, for those of us who do not want to be hostages to violence that humiliates, that violates our rights, that makes people nothing, that kills and which has covered this city and this country with terror,” Pacto por la Cultura representative Veronica Corchado said during a memorial service Sunday for the massacre victims.
Community activists and relatives of the victims planted 15 rose bushes, one for each of the dead, in the garden of 1308 Villa del Portal street, where the massacre occurred.
Parents, siblings, friends and other people close to the young men who died two years ago in Juarez took part in a rally for justice staged by a group of community groups. EFE