Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Juárez drug war: El Paso does feel effects

We continue to be a safe U.S. city, but we're fooling ourselves if we think the narco violence in Juárez has not negatively affected our way of life. "Spillover" is the correct word, a bulls-eye definition of what's going on. But it should be looked at in more ways than stray bullets hitting El Paso buildings in the immediate border vicinity. More to the point, the ongoing war to control this sector's drug route is affecting us economically and socially -- and that's "spillover." We rely on trade with Mexico to fuel our economy. It's second only to the money generated here by Fort Bliss. We have family and friends who live in Juárez. Economically: There are two main negative affects the narco war has on trade and business. # Cargo moves slower due to tighter security measures -- drugs and contraband coming this way, and weapons and cash from drug sales going into Mexico. Our international bridges are clogged. Wait times can last hours. # Fewer Juarenses are walking into El Paso to shop at our stores. Data bear that out at both Downtown pedestrian bridges. That means a loss in profits to business owners, fewer dollars in sales tax revenue, and fewer dollars in bridge tolls. Socially: Until 9/11, El Paso/Juárez had essentially an open border. From the 1800s to Sept. 11, 2001, it took little more than a nod to cross into either country. El Pasoans have always had family and friends living in Juárez and the Juárez Valley. Now U.S. citizens are afraid to travel into Juárez, even to visit family and friends. Those traveling to Juárez for the restaurant or night life have found scores of restaurants and nightclubs shuttered and out of business. We have effectively been cut off from our family and friends, and the social amenities once provided in Juárez...more

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