Tuesday, June 08, 2010

From guns to butter in Juárez

If 5,000 soldiers couldn’t stop the violence in Juárez, will a small army of teachers, doctors and economists be able to do the job? The U.S. Agency for International Development is betting $1.53 million that they can at least make a difference. USAID, the development assistance arm of the U.S. State Department, is asking the Paso del Norte Group to find ways to seed economic development, education and other social programs in Juárez. The private business group, with members in both El Paso and Juárez, will lead the first-of-its-kind program that’s expected to be a model for similar programs along the U.S.-Mexico border. “If people don’t have jobs, they become ripe for being targeted by sicaros (hitmen) and narco traffickers,” said Lisa Colquitt-Muñoz, regional coordinator for the Paso del Norte Group. Among the plans under consideration so far: • Studying the potential for cross-border health insurance and the development of a medical zone in Juárez that would attract Americans to travel to México for treatment. • Creating an agency modeled on the U.S. Small Business Administration to encourage the growth of small businesses with loans and other assistance. • A fund-raising extravaganza featuring performances by world-renowned names in opera and popular music, to be held in El Paso and Juárez next fall...more

No comments: