Mexican Drug War Orphans 10,000 Children in One Year

Jenny Inglee is a Los Angeles-based journalist and the Education Editor at TakePart.
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The head of a teddy bear adorns a child&39;s grave at San Rafael Cemetary outside Ciudad Juarez. (Photo: Claudia Daut/Reuters)

In 2009 alone, 10,000 children were orphaned due to the Mexican drug war in the U.S border city of Ciudad Juárez. The city has the distinction of being the most violent in Mexico.

The children's parents have been executed or have disappeared. Reported by Impresiones Latinas, Aurelio Paez, director of a local orphanage, Wine, Wheat and Oil, says: "We live in a state of war and children are left to drift." Of the 90 children housed at the orphanage, 63 have lost their parents to organized crime.

Some of the children are in shelters and orphanages; many are on the streets.

Considering the high rates of drug-related crime and poverty in Jaurez, many of the orphans seem destined to follow in their dead parents' footsteps.

Armando Patrón from Mexico's National Council Against Addictions says one problem is that "parents are setting an example." Patrón explained that not only have children become orphans, living with the rage of losing their parents, they also know that the situation they are living in may not change.

This week, Mexican legislators are taking action for these children. Deputy Erandi Bermúdez Méndez states, "It is our duty as legislators not to leave forgotten the plight of orphaned children in our country. Childhood is the future of Mexico."

The hope is to include orphaned children as beneficiaries of the Mexican federal program, Oportunidades. The program is aimed at reducing poverty and improving health and education across Mexico.

The program may be some help to the children who have lost their parents, but for the citizens of Ciudad Juárez, ending the drug violence is key.

The U.S. consumes 50 percent of the world's cocaine, and the availability of meth is at a five-year high, according to The Justice Department's National Drug Intelligence Center's report obtained by The New York Times. The meth increase is mainly due to large-scale drug production in Mexico.

Patricia Galarza of the Human Rights Center Paso Del Norte warned Impresiones Latinas that the violence must end soon if these children are to have a chance at a life free of drugs and violence.


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