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Film Documents Renewal Of Ciudad Juarez

Charlie Minn, the director of "The New Juarez," talks to KPBS about his film explaining why violence in Juarez, Mexico has diminished.


Charlie Minn, director, "The New Juarez"


Charlie Minn's first documentary on drug violence in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, released in 2010, was called "8 Murders A Day." That number was bad enough. But things got much worse.

Minn estimates that some 11,000 gruesome acts of murderous violence, many ensnaring innocent bystanders, occurred during the war between the Sinaloa Cartel and La Linea for dominance of the drug trade.

The violence is subsiding now due, Minn believes, to the victory of the Sinaloa Cartel.

“The Sinaloa Cartel, they seem to win every turf battle," he told KPBS. "So they won the war, they wiped out the Juarez cartel, La Linea. Unfortunately, it took five years and 12,000 funerals to do it in Juarez.”

He said clandestine deals between the cartels and officials in the Mexican government, the demilitarization of Juarez, and, most notably, the city's new police chief also contributed to the violence reduction.

But Minn said the scars from that war remain.

“This is a really emotional war," he said. "This will shatter your heart, children being murdered. I consider this the greatest human rights disaster in the world today, and I still can’t quite comprehend the numbers."

Minn calls Julian Leyazola Perez Mexico's bravest man. Leyazola, the former police chief of Tijuana, has called out the cartels and lowered the murder rate and, in the process, survived seven attempts on his life.

Leyazola is the hero of Minn's final film in his Juarez trilogy, "The New Juarez." The United States, on the other hand, plays the role of villain, providing a ready source of guns and spending millions on the drugs the cartels provide.

Minn’s film will open in San Diego at the Regal Rancho Del Rey on Friday.

Claire Trageser contributed to this report.

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