Across the U.S.-Mexican border El Paso’s sister city, Ciudad Juárez has been haunted by cartel violence for over a decade. Headlines about Juárez have been dominated by murder and terror. But the First Lady of El Paso hopes to change U.S. perceptions of the city. She does this by leading walking tours through Juárez.
Adair Margo, the wife of El Paso Mayor Dee Margo, leads tours of Juárez each week and hopes that she can change people’s idea of what Ciudad Juárez, and Mexico, are really like. Margo says she has traveled the world and wishes other borders could open, and allow walking tours between sister cities like the ones she leads.
“I’ve seen just how special it was,” Margo says. “And I’ve often thought that I wish every place every border in the world could have programs like I’m involved with in El Paso and Juárez.”
She says she has no illusions about the danger in Juárez, but stands firm in her belief that citizens of the U.S. shouldn’t turn their backs on the city. Instead, they should provide hope, and expose the injustices in Juárez. And she says that danger shouldn’t stop residents from living their lives and helping people around them
“Life is filled with perils, but it doesn’t mean you turn your back on your neighbor, I mean that’s when you go!” Margo says. “We see that with what happened in El Paso, the outpouring is so overwhelmingly beautiful. That’s when you see that the light far outshines the dark, it drowns it out.”
Margo wants people to stop ignoring and running from the people and the city. “This idea that we retreat from it, that’s just the wrong thing to do,” Margo says.
She still leads tours every week, and realizes that there is still violence in Juarez. But she hopes the tour will inspire people to visit and take advantage of how close Texans are to another country and culture.
“Well I think the fact that there is this ebb and flow across a border, you can have an international experience every single day.”
Margo emphasizes the spirit of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez is that they help each other no matter what.
“They’re helping us and we’re helping them, people engaged in helping each other, I think that epitomizes this place,” Margo says.
Right now the city of El Paso needs people to visit and pitch in as best they can, even if they don’t know how. She says she wants people to experience and help her city, which has hosted visitors from all over the U.S.
“When you live in a place like this, you want people to know it. We invite people to come and experience it,” Margo says. “I’ve met people from all over the United States who have come to pitch it in a structured way… we would invite people to come visit.”
Written by Marina Marquez.