As Juárez Violence Spikes, El Paso Residents Remain Watchful

Drug-gang battles have dramatically increased the level of violence south of the U.S.-Mexico border, near El Paso.

By Alexandra HartAugust 23, 2018 1:27 pm, , ,

Mexico just experienced its most violent month ever. In July, Mexican prosecutors launched 2,599 new homicide investigations – 84 per day on average, a new record. The Los Angeles Times reports that during the first seven months of 2018, a total of 16,399 homicide cases were opened, marking a 14 percent increase from the same period last year.

This is not some remote issue: Directly south of the Texas border at El Paso, Ciudad Juárez has seen an uptick in violence this year, too. The monthly average for homicides there, according to Mexican officials, is six per day. This has some locals worried that history might soon be repeating itself.

Julián Aguilar reports on border and immigration issues for the Texas Tribune. He says the source of the violence is continued gang activity, as groups fight each other for turf.

Aguilar says you can’t generalize about violence in Mexico. It has different characteristics in different parts of the country.

“I don’t think you can look at the entire country and say this is the very simple reason why it’s happening from coast to coast,” he says. “I think it’s down to regional hot spots. Local politics affect what happens there.”

Aguilar says experts tell him that recent Mexican elections, plus new cartels forming, may also contributed to the spike in violence.

For El Paso residents, violence across the border has created mixed feelings. Some have avoided Juárez for years, mindful of past years’ high levels of violence. Others make the crossing every day.

“They’re just hoping, mainly, that it doesn’t hurt the image of El Paso,” Aguilar says. “Of course, they’re very sympathetic to the folks in Mexico, but they also have political leaders and tourism leaders that want people to come here and visit and invest.”

Written by Shelly Brisbin.