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Mexico Border City Wants U.N. Peacekeepers

Business groups in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez said Wednesday they are calling for United Nations peacekeepers to quell the drug-related violence that has given their city one of the highest homicide rates in the world.

Groups representing maquiladora assembly plants, retailers and other businesses said they will submit a request to the Mexican government and the Inter American Human Rights Commission to ask the U.N. to send help.

"This is a proposal ... for international forces to come here to help out the domestic (security) forces," said Daniel Murguia, president of the Ciudad Juarez chapter of the National Chamber of Commerce, Services and Tourism. "There is a lot of extortions and robberies of businesses. Many businesses are closing."

The government has sent more than 5,000 soldiers to the city across the border from El Paso, Texas, but killings, extortions and kidnappings continue.

Ciudad Juarez has had 1,986 homicides through mid-October this year — averaging seven a day in the city of 1.5 million people.

"We have seen the U.N. peacekeepers enter other countries that have a lot fewer problems than we have," Murguia said.

The groups appeared to be motivated by a sense of desperation and deep disappointment with the government's efforts to control crime in the city.

Soledad Maynez, president of the Ciudad Juarez Association of Maquiladoras, said the joint police-army operation to quell killings and crime have yielded no results.

Maynez said business and civic groups want U.N. peacekeepers or advisers in Ciudad Juarez.

"What we are asking for with the blue helmets (U.N. peacekeepers) is that we know they are the army of peace, so we could use not only the strategies they have developed in other countries ... but they also have technology," Maynez said.

Mexican troops have both helped train new local police recruits and taken on some patrolling tasks in the city.

But a turf battle between rival drug gangs has not yielded, and extortionists and thieves — some probably related to the drug cartels — have taken advantage of the situation to target businesses. Maynez said thousands of shops, stores and other firms have closed or moved out of the city because of the situation.

Maynez said the United States could also contribute to the solution, adding that the U.S. might be forced to in its own interests.

"We know that sooner or later, the violence will spill over into our sister city of El Paso, Texas," he said.

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