“Todos Somos Juárez: Reconstruyamos la Ciudad” (“We are All Juárez: Let’s Rebuild our City”) is a recent program that aims to reduce the high level of violence and crime in Ciudad Juárez by investing in various development projects and proving social benefits. The program, announced by President Calderón in February 2010, is in addition to other governmental initiatives that address social and economic factors as part of the nation’s efforts against crime. Though nominally a federal government initiative, it also counts on the involvement of the Chihuahua state government, Ciudad Juárez’s municipal government, and civil society. It is designed as a series of goals that the three aforementioned levels of governments and society commit to work toward. In a sense, it is a to-do list of 160 “pledges”.
According to the official government document describing the program, the citizens of Juárez played an active role in designing these pledges. The government had hosted 15 open workshops in which various specific topics were discussed, including housing, health, sports, culture, employment, and of course public security. These public forums were designed to give regular citizens a stake in promoting the city’s progress and ensure that their specific concerns and suggestions were heard. The “Todos Somos Juárez” program and its “pledges” were formed based on of the public’s input during these workshops, according to the document.
The program is meant to be a relatively short-term initiative with concrete goals and deadlines. The great majority of these pledges have a conclusion date of December 2010. In addition, each pledge has a benchmark it is expected to meet within 100 days of its implementation. For example, the 100 day benchmark for Pledge#1 (decrease the response times of emergency and law enforcement personnel) is implementing a GPS system in 760 vehicles. The benchmark for Pledge #11 (strengthen security in customs), includes adding more security cameras, canine units, and mobile X-ray machines to facilitate customs inspections.
Though some pledges are more specific than other, the majority make use of specific numbers. Pledge #38 aims to hold nine courses to train 350 total people in mental health or crisis issues by December, with four courses training 140 people completed by its 100 day benchmark. Larger infrastructure projects to provide employment and improve the environment are also an important part of “Todos Somos Juárez”. These include building or renovating public spaces, local parks, paving projects, and sports facilities. Some of the pledges relating to education or culture are increasing available scholarships, upgrading computer equipment in twelve libraries, and remodeling a local iconic movie theater.
On Tuesday March 16th, Ciudad Juárez hosted a conference to evaluate the program’s progress so far. Though this was not its first official evaluation, the conference was significant in light of the top-level attendants, including President Calderón and several cabinet members. The effectiveness of government anti-crime efforts has become an increasingly important concern now that it has been three years since Calderón announced the war against the drug cartels in January 2006.