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Juárez to Tourists: It's Safe to Come Back Now

The Mexican border city’s murder rate is nowhere near where it once was. But Americans haven’t gotten the message.
People walk past a new 40-square meters mural of Mexican singer Alberto Aguilera Valadez, better known as Juan Gabriel, in downtown Ciudad Juarez.
People walk past a new 40-square meters mural of Mexican singer Alberto Aguilera Valadez, better known as Juan Gabriel, in downtown Ciudad Juarez.REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

Murder capital of the world is no one's idea of a good tourism promotion. But Ciudad Juárez's murder tally has long since plummeted from the astronomical high of more than 3,000 recorded in 2010. In 2014, 424 or 538 people were reported killed in Juárez (depending on what entity is doing the reporting). Per capita, even that higher number represents a murder rate similar to that of Detroit or New Orleans. The border city nonetheless remains forbidden territory for Americans who in prior decades would cross over from El Paso in droves to visit family, bars, restaurants, dentists, pharmacies and strip clubs. Juárez is by no means a paragon of security, but it’s certainly safe enough to grab dinner.

"Before, a lot of businesses were closing because they were losing money," says Ángel, 58, a Juárez native trying to lure passersby into a downtown pharmacy. He wants tourists to return. "I think that many [people] still don't have much confidence, but things are now good here in Juárez … There's a lot of security."