In This Review

The Fight to Save Juárez: Life in the Heart of Mexico's Drug War
The Fight to Save Juárez: Life in the Heart of Mexico's Drug War
By Ricardo C. Ainslie
University of Texas Press, 2013, 296 pp

Ainslie’s book is mainly a journalistic account of the horrific drug-related violence and deeply entrenched police corruption that have wracked the border town of Ciudad Juárez. This narrative is interspersed with compelling interviews with, among others, the city’s besieged and courageous mayor, a sympathetic mistress of a successful drug trafficker, and a human rights activist. Between 2008 and 2010, the citizens of Juárez suffered through several intertwined struggles: turf battles between the Juárez and the Sinaloa cartels, between various levels of Mexican law enforcement, and between the cartels and the central Mexican state. In this Byzantine world, even the president of the country was accused of acting on behalf of one of the cartels. But Ainslie strongly believes that then President Felipe Calderón had no choice but to take on the increasingly powerful drug-trafficking organizations. Initially, the frightened citizens of Juárez welcomed the intervention of the army and the federal police. But as the violence mounted, the voters elected an old-guard mayor with a reputation for collusion with the drug gangs, anticipating that he could negotiate a truce. The violence in Juárez has since abated, but the causes of this are the subject of heated debate.