Once the World’s Most Dangerous City, Juárez Returns to Life

Sam Quiñones gives a (mostly) hopeful portrait of El Paso’s sister city in this month’s National Geographic.

For many El Pasoans like myself, Juárez has always felt partly like a neighbor and largely like an exotic land on another planet. The big crime waves of the last decades–first all the maquila violence of the 90s and then the cartel wars of the 00s–heightened that sense of Juárez’ other-worldliness, even while it brought many people and businesses from Juárez into El Paso. So, for those of us who dream that the two cities will get closer in the future, that the border will get de-militarized, and even that the Río Grande can be cleared of enough Border Patrol cars and fences and barbed wire to once again look like a Río, articles like this one are cause for happiness.

Quinõnes has always done fantastic reporting on cultural crossings between the US and Mexico, both along the physical border and far from it. His book Dreamland recently won the National Book Critics Circle Award. And even more significantly (well, maybe not) than winning one of the biggest nonfiction prizes in the country, it was reviewed by yours truly in the Texas Observer a few months back.

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