Photo: Mexico's Drug War Felt Strongest by Narco Orphans
With Mexican authorities still fighting the country’s ever-growing drug cartels, it would seem those that have suffered the most are the children, many of them orphans. For some, their parents’ deaths were not at the hands of the narcos, because their fallen parents were the narcos.
Those taking care of the “narco orphans” say it is necessary to break the cycle of violence, because “if you don’t, they can grow up to be their father’s avengers.”
For the families of those that died working for the cartels, it can be twice as hard to deal, as they not only lose a relative, but also must face the reality of how and why they died.
Since the start of President Calderon’s war on drugs, more than 40,000 people have been killed, with some saying as many as 60,000 children have been orphaned.
Though the narcos are fighting the Mexican law enforcement Calderon has sent after them, they are also fighting each other. To those that have lost loved ones, it can sometimes be hard to tell if any of those shooting at each are the “good guys.”
For the orphans of the narcos, violence can already be an accepted part of life, with many either acting out violently or perhaps painfully withdrawn.
Volunteers at centers like the Family Center for Integration and Growth, have attempted to help those who have lost loved ones. The volunteers say they are working with both adults and children to help them handle their grief and shake off the anger and hurt that can plague such young minds.
Trying to keep the children away from the cartels can be rough, as Maria Juarez, a counselor at the Juan Alanis School, knows.
“Before, if you asked them what they wanted to be when they grew up, the boys would say ‘policeman’ or ‘fireman,’ Juarez told The Houston Chronicle. “Now many will say they want to be assassins. Just imagine the mentality of the young people now.”