Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Just a few years ago, Monterrey was dubbed the safest city in Latin America and the commercial hub of Mexico

Now, it's fallen victim to the lawlessness and violence spreading throughout the country - a cartel battleground where grenade attacks, shootouts and kidnappings dominate headlines. At the prestigious Tecnológico de Monterrey, the escalating violence has led to an exodus of students. Many of the nation's wealthy send their children to the school. They now fear the cartels and other common street thugs will increasingly prey on their children. Two graduate students were killed in March 2010 when they got caught in the crossfire of a shootout between cartels and police just outside the university's gates. Recently, three cartel gunmen were killed when their car exploded after crashing just 200 yards from university dorms. The school has added enhanced security measures, from armed police to cameras. The campus is completely gated, and anyone entering or leaving needs an ID. Alberto Bustani Adem, a top school official, says the university is cognizant of the dangers and understands the fears of parents and students. The university is not sure how many students have been kidnapped in recent months. Parents are scared to talk to the media for fear of reprisals. More than 100 exchange students from the United States have left this semester, Adem says. In September 2010, the State Department issued a travel warning for Monterrey and advised that "the immediate, practical and reliable way to reduce the security risks for all children is to remove them from Monterrey." Adem says the warning had a huge impact. "We practically didn't receive any Americans."

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