Friday, April 8, 2011

The Changing Dynamics of the El Paso-Juárez Metropolis

Our family lives in the metro Phoenix area. Our home is located several hours from the U.S.-Mexico border. When we drive to visit our relatives in Texas, we drive along the border at various times. In El Paso, especially, we come very close to the border, and we can see people on the Mexico side in their Juárez neighborhoods.

In the past 5-10 years, El Paso has changed so much. The tourist brochures used to give information about crossing the border to go to Juárez for shopping, dining, bar hopping and cultural diversions. That is no longer the case. The tourist brochures now discreetly advise visitors to visit the State Department website to study current warnings before crossing the border.

Over the years, I have had friends and family in El Paso, and we used to love going to Juárez for lunch or to go shopping. It was a lot of fun and we felt safe. But that is no longer the case. The last time my husband and I crossed the border to visit Juárez was around 2002.

In recent years, the middle class merchants and professionals, as well as the affluent in Juárez, have been abandoning the city and moving to El Paso. The residential real estate market in El Paso has been catering to Juareños, and there is a flurry of new businesses on the U.S. side of the border as merchants from Juárez establish new businesses in their new hometown. This exodus has been devastating to the Mexico side of the border metropolis. But I don’t see how anyone could blame the people fleeing Juárez. The scale of the violence is astounding.

In 2007, Juárez had 307 homicides. In 2008, there were 1,600. In 2009 there were 2,600.

Beyond Juárez, nearly 24,000 people have been killed in all of Mexico since late 2006 when Felipe Calderón became president and began to wage war on the Mexican drug cartels. Nearly 24,000 human beings. That is about twice as many people in my husband’s hometown.

The links below include some insightful journalism on the situation in the El Paso- Juárez urban area:

Job 3:25 Everything I fear and dread comes true. Psalm 91:5 You need not fear any dangers at night or sudden attacks during the day.

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