Drug War Orphans in Mexico haunted by gang murders

Mexico’s new President has declared the war against drugs over, but many activists say the scars from the years-long scourge will take time to heal.

They’re turning their attention to those still haunted by cartel violence. CGTN’S Alasdair Baverstock reports from Tijuana, Mexico.

Mexico’s War on Drugs. In the 13 years since it began, it has cost more than 200,000 lives, according to official figures.

Nowhere is the pain more keenly felt than in Tijuana, a city where around one in every six people is a drug addict. Tijuana has a population of 1.3 million.

“At least some of the dead have left children behind. Boys and girls orphans,” said Jose Luis Perez, a youth activist. “Statistics vary, but it’s anywhere between 30,000 and 50,000 orphans due to narcos. Orphans of murdered parents.”

For Perez, the vulnerable children represent a potential threat to society years from now.

“These are children who grow up with hatred and feelings of revenge,” Perez said. “If they aren’t attended to psychologically, they will end up as part of those same gangs, as part of the violence, and the drugs, so the conflict is repeated. It’s passed to the next generation.”

Last year, Tijuana saw more than 2,400 murders, the vast majority of the victims under 30.

“El Ivan”, a former Sinaloa cartel member, narrowly escaped such a fate.

“For two or three months they give you everything. But afterwards, they either put you in the hands of the authorities, or in the graveyard,” he said. “Because it’s not good to have you alive with information about their activities.”

For Tijuana Councilman Roberto Quijano, it is a problem he would like to tackle but feels that the political will is lacking.

“Unfortunately, there is very little from the standpoint of the local authorities,” Quijano said. “Basically the mayor there is very little interest on how to reform these kids, how to invest in these places, secure places, or juvenile houses, where they can improve their lives, or have a productive life.”