Alicia Caldwell
Associated Press
December 31, 2008

El Paso, Texas – With the death toll in the Mexican city of Juarez mounting, the increasingly bloody struggle for control of the city across the Rio Grande from El Paso can now count one more victim: charity from its American neighbor.

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At least two church groups have chosen not to send members over the border to aid the poor because of the ongoing drug cartel war.

“It pains us. The violence is out of hand. We actually had a parishioner who was kidnapped, so it’s too close to home,” said Monsignor Arturo Banuelas, of El Paso’s Roman Catholic diocese.

Banuelas, whose young nephew was shot and killed in an ambush in the west coast state of Sinaloa earlier this year, said parishioners from El Paso would normally make trips to a city jail and several missions around Juarez to deliver food, clothing, blankets and Christmas gifts at this time of year.

But because of the ongoing drug cartel war–more than 1,300 people have been killed in the city of 1.3 million this year–he canceled the church’s outreach.

Officials with the Abundant Living Faith Center in El Paso also have canceled trips to orphanages and local ministries in Mexico that aid Juarez’s poorest.

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