Juarez, Mexico is considered the most violent city in the world. For a reporter in Juarez, being caught in the cross fire of two drug lords is not unlikely, said Armando Durazo, editor of the El Paso Times.
Durazo showed footage of a reporter lying on the ground caught in the crossfire trying to get a story while bullets were flying over his head to an audience of about 60 people in a classroom in the Natural Resources building Thursday night.
Durazo and three other speakers were brought in to speak to students and community members about the editors and reporters risking their lives to cover the current drug war in Juarez.
â€œThe reporters are there every single day putting their life on the line, and we as American citizens sometimes take for granted the important work our journalists do,â€ said Cathleen Carter-Miller, a journalism graduate student that spent several months observing coverage in El Paso, Texas and Juarez.
El Paso is on the border of Mexico, and sits only miles from Juarez and its ensuing violence. While the city is still in the U.S., the drug war has been spilling over into El Paso due to its proximity to Mexico.
â€œI never felt unsafe, but I never felt that I was completely in the United States,â€ said Jose Luis Suarez-Garcia, a CSU Spanish professor that taught at the University of Texas-El Paso for several years.
â€œYou can cross the border, and no one will ask you anything,â€ he said. â€œYou just have to say your nationality and cross the border.â€
The speakers shared their experiences with those who attended and spoke of the violence that is occurring to not only those directly involved in the drug war but also to citizens and journalists in both El Paso and Juarez.
â€œAt least 12 reporters were killed so far this year,â€ said Jim Anderson, state news editor for the Associated Press in Colorado.
Journalists write the first draft of history, Durazo said. The weight of this responsibility drives them to work despite sometimes fearing for their lives.
â€œI have heard and been told by reporters that â€˜I donâ€™t want to go to Juarez. Itâ€™s too dangerous,â€™â€ he said. â€œWell sorry, this is our job, this is what we do. We have to report this stuff or no one will.â€
While the speakers were optimistic that the violence in Juarez and El Paso will come to an end with the upcoming generation, they made it clear that the war is far from over.
â€œWe think this year is going to be worse than the last in terms of violence,â€ Durazo said.
Staff Writer Jordyn Dahl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.