Drawings Chronicle Growing Up In the Midst of Mexico Drug War

Forget shaky drawings of trees, butterflies and bunnies. Children in a western Mexico state besieged by drug violence have helped produce a book that is full of images of their reality: Shootouts, kidnappings, robberies and grenade attacks that kids are increasingly being exposed to.

The book, "The Mexico I Live," was released Tuesday by the Michoacan state Human Rights Commission and a local university. It contains 45 drawings, most of them of bloody scenes and shootouts taking place outside supermarkets or parks.

One drawing highlights a scene outside a supermarket where a federal police officer is firing his automatic weapon while a man in a baseball cap tosses a grenade at him.

Another child drew the lifeless body of a man who had been shot six times in the stomach and is lying on a pool of blood while his attacker stands over him holding an automatic rifle.

The drawings were selected from a 2010 competition that had called on children between the ages of 7 and 12 to draw pictures alluding to Mexico's 200 years since the start of its battle for independence from Spain. Instead, children drew about their experiences with drug violence.

The pictures "show explicit images of a society devoted to drug trafficking, violence and of abuses against minors," said university professor Araceli Colin, who was part of the selection committee.

Michoacan is the home territory of the violent La Familia drug cartel, which has mounted several ambush-style attacks on police in the last two years.

Children are increasingly falling victim to the brutal violence of Mexico's drug war, a conflict that has killed more than 34,000 people since December 2006, when President Felipe Calderon first launched an all-out offensive against cartels in his home state of Michoacan.

The nonprofit group Network for the Rights of Children in Mexico estimates 994 children and youths under 18 were killed in drug violence between late 2006 and late 2010 across the country, and says the number has risen since then.

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.

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