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Fear Plagues Tijuana Resident

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

For many people in Tijuana, life goes on in spite of the drug war that's claimed more than 350 lives since the end of September. But, for others, the violence and the constant threat that something might happen has sent them into despair. KPBS Border Reporter Amy Isackson talked with a woman at a recent peace march in the city and sent this audio postcard, as part of our continuing series Border Battle in collaboration with Tijuanapress.com.

Melba Romero is a doctor in Tijuana. A general practitioner. We walked through Tijuana's streets as we talked. Romero was dressed all in white. But not because she'd just left the office. It was a plea for peace.

Romero: People are dying more than in Iraq, and over there there's a war going on. Here we have a war between two drug cartels, and we're trapped in the middle. It's not normal for somebody to be killed in the streets. It doesn't matter if that dead person is a drug trafficker. Nobody deserves to die with their heads off. No body deserves to die being burned alive. And obviously, no one deserves to die with a bullet in the streets. Children, a few weeks ago, a child was killed. And then a 12 year old that were trapped in the middle of gunfire.

Romero says she's terrified all the time. She's changed her life because of that.

Romero: I have my son trapped in the house all the day. I don't want him to go out by himself. You know, I need to know where he is. I just can't stop worrying. It's so terrible. Psychotic, I think. We don't go to the movie theaters. I love to do that. Or out to restaurants, we don't. We don't do that anymore. We just stay at home, or we go across the border. We go across the border to the movies or a restaurant. That's what we do, just to stay away.

Romero doesn't have any illusion there's a magical cure for drug trafficking.

Romero: No body is going to end that. The leaders right now are the drug cartels. Not the governor or the mayor.

Romero doesn't hold out hope that the government can drive drug traffickers out of Tijuana.

She just wants them to stop killing people.

Romero: I think that they do need to pact. You do your things, but leave our people alone. Because they've been there all the time. And they will be there. Its just, the need, I don't know, someone to talk to them, and reach a point.

Amy Isackson, KPBS News.

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