The Long Wars Against El Paso and Ciudad Juarez

Violence Foretold

Photograph Source: iose – CC BY 2.0

Perched above the Rio Grande with a splendid view of neighboring Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, the Cielo Vista Mall is one of the commercial nerve centers of El Paso, Texas. On a normal weekend, the mall and an adjacent Walmart store bounce with shoppers, many of them middle-class customers from Juarez and northern Mexico who pump money into the local economy, support jobs and bolster Texas state tax coffers.

This routine went on for years without major incident until, suddenly, an invader came to town on August 3, 2019.

The intruder wasn't one of the migrants from the south trying to cross the border here that Fox News, the President and his cronies rail about, but a young white racist who drove hours and hours from a Dallas suburb armed with an assault rifle and a mission to kill Mexicans.

Unloading his weapon at the Cielo Vista Walmart on a Saturday morning, the killer slaughtered 22 people and wounded 25 others before surrendering to police.

"It reminds me of the 19th century and early 20th, when the Texas Rangers would go hunting Mexicans, especially in the 1910s," said Oscar Martinez, an El Paso historian, educator and author who grew up in Juarez but was educated in the Texas city.

Though racist killings of African Americans are part of the historic epistle, "there is little knowledge outside of the Chicano community that people were lynched," Martinez added.

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Kent Paterson is a freelance journalist who covers the southwestern United States, the border region and Mexico. He is a regular contributor to CounterPunch and the Americas Program. 

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