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Ciudad Juárez, also known as just Juárez and formerly known as Paso del Norte, is a city and seat of the municipality of Juárezmarker in the Mexican state of Chihuahuamarker. Juárez has an estimated population of 1.5 million people. It stands on the Rio Grande marker, across the U.S. border from El Paso, Texasmarker. El Paso and Ciudad Juárez comprise one of the largest binational metropolitan areas in the world with a combined population of 2.4 million people. In fact, Ciudad Juárez is one of the fastest growing cities in the world, in spite of the fact that it is "the most violent zone in the world outside of declared war zones." For instance, a few years ago, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas published that in Ciudad Juárez “the average annual growth over the 10-year period 1990-2000 was 5.3 percent. Juárez experienced much higher population growth than the state of Chihuahua and than Mexico as a whole.”

More than 60,000 people cross the Juárez-El Paso border every day, which makes it a major point of entry and transportation for all of central northern Mexico. The city has a growing industrial center which is made up in large part by the more than 300 maquiladoras (assembly plants) located in and around the city. According to a 2007 The New York Times article, Ciudad Juárez "is now absorbing more new industrial real estate space than any other North American city." In 2008, fDi Magazine designated Ciudad Juárez "The City of the Future". However, the city is also a site of widespread poverty and violence, including an infamous series of unsolved murders of female factory workers. The violence generated by the war of the drug cartels for control of drug routes translated into some 6,000 killings in 2008. More than 1,600 of them occurred in Juárez, three times more than the most murderous city in the United States. In response, business groups in Juárez have called for UN intervention.


Juárez mission and cathedral.
Ciudad Juárez was founded as El Paso del Norte ("North Pass") in 1659 by Spanish explorers, seeking a route through the southern Rocky Mountains. The Mission of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe was the first permanent Spanish development in the area, for as Native America population was already found there. The Jesuit friars established a community that grew in importance as commerce between Santa Fe and Chihuahuamarker cross it. The wood for the bridge across the Rio Grande first came from Santa Fe, New Mexicomarker, in the 1700s. The original population of suma, jumano and immigrants brought by the Spanish as slaves from Central New Spain grow around the mission. In 1648 while the Pueblo Revolt, some Tigua branch of the Pueblo established as refugees and a Mission was established for them in Ysleta del Paso del Norte. The population grew until around 1750, when the Apache attacked the other native towns around the missions. The 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo established the Rio Grande as the border between Mexico and the United States, separating the settlements on the north bank of the river from the rest of the town. Such settlements were in fact not adjoined to the town in that time, and as the military set its buildings the town grew around it. That would later become El Paso, Texasmarker. From that time until around 1930 populations on both sides of the border could move freely across it. Ciudad Juárez and El Paso are one of the 14 pairs of Cross-border town naming along the U.S.–Mexico border. During the French intervention in Mexico (1862–1867), El Paso del Norte served as a temporary stop for Benito Juárez's republican forces until he established his government-in-exile in Chihuahuamarker. In 1888, El Paso del Norte was renamed in honor of Juárez.

Ciudad Juárez again served as the country's provisional capital during the initial phase of the Mexican Revolution, when forces loyal to opposition candidate Francisco I. Madero, led by Pancho Villa, seized the city on 20 November 1910. The scene of intense fighting for a decade, Juárez recovered during the US Prohibition era (1919–33) as an entertainment center. Juárez continued to attract tourists from the southwest USA during the 1940s and 1950s, with its bars, nightclubs, brothels, bullfighting, and shopping.Juárez has grown substantially in recent decades due to a large influx of people rapidly moving into the city in search of jobs with the maquiladoras. Now, more technological firms have been attracted like the largest Delphi Corporation Technical Center in the Western Hemisphere, which is located in Ciudad Juárez and employs more than 2,000 engineers. Large slum housing communities called colonias have become extensive.

Juárez has gained further notoriety because of violence and as a major center of narcotics trafficking linked to the powerful Juárez Cartel, and for more than 1000 unsolved murders of young women since 1993. Unfortunately, because of widely alleged police complicity (and perhaps even participation on the part of police and government officials and local elites), the serial murders continue and most of them remain "unsolved" despite the years that have gone by, though the number of homicides has fallen slightly since 2004 despite the increase of population. As a result of the murders, Juárez (along with the capital of the state, Chihuahua, Chih.marker) has become a center for protest against sexual violence throughout Mexico. Meanwhile, many continue working to maintain a positive image of Ciudad Juárez. Songs 'Juarez' by the music artist Tori Amos and 'Invalid Litter Dept.' by At the Drive-In refer to Ciudad Juárez and the murders of women therein. A giant Mexican flag, banderas monumentales, was erected in Chamizal Park on June 26, 1997.


Ciudad Juárez has an arid climate because it is located in the Chihuahuan desert. Seasons are extremely well defined, hot summers, cold winters and cool springs and fall. Summer average high is 34 °C with lows of 22 °C, on the other hand winter high is 14 °C with lows of 1 °C. Because of the high altitude Ciudad Juárez is cooler than other desert cities in Mexicomarker. Rainfall is very scarce but it is more prominent in the summer months. Snowfall is not a rare event—it normally snows once or twice every winter. The record high is 46 °C and the record low is -22 °C.


The average annual growth in population over the 10-year period [1990–2000] was 5.3%. According to the 2005 population census, the city had 1,301,452 inhabitants, while the municipality had 1,313,338 inhabitants. According to the 2009 census Ciudad Juárez is now larger than Tijuana, BC. During the last decades the city has received immigrants from interior Mexico, some figures state that 32% of the city's population originated outside the state of Chihuahua, mainly from the states of Durangomarker (9.9%), Coahuilamarker (6.3%), Veracruzmarker (3.7%) and Zacatecasmarker (3.5%), as well as from Mexico Citymarker (1.7%). Though most immigrants are Mexican, some immigrants also come from Central American countries, such as Guatemalamarker, Hondurasmarker and Nicaraguamarker.


The city is governed by a municipal president and an eighteen seat council. The current president is José Reyes Ferriz, an affiliate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Three national parties are represented on the council: the PRI, the National Action Party and the New Alliance Party.

Crime and safety

Criminal activity in the domestic metropolitan area of Juárez has increased dramatically since the rise of maquiladoras, and especially following the establishment of NAFTA in 1994, two factors which attracted both international commerce and many younger women and their families to Juárez in search of better economic opportunities. Violence towards women in the municipality has increased dramatically in the past twenty years; since the early nineties there have been approximately 600 femicides and at least 3000 missing women. Escalating turf wars between the rival Juárez and Sinaloa Cartels have led to increasingly brutal violence in the city since the mid-2000s.

The Juárez police department had a force of approximately 800 officers in September 2008, following the removal of a third of its human resources for various reasons. Recruitment goals set by the department called for the force to more than double.Juárez Citizens Command threatened to take action to attempt to put a stop to all the perpetrators of violence while government officials expressed concern that such vigilantism would contribute to further instability and violence. In response to the increasing violence in the city the military and Federal Police's presence had been increased almost twofold. As of March 2009 at least 4500 soldiers and federal police were in the city attempting to curtail mostly drug cartel related violence. By August 2009 there were more than 7500 federal troops augmented by an expanded and highly restaffed municipal force. In the year leading up to August 2009 Juárez' murder rate was the highest reported in the world, exceeding the holders of the second and third highest rates, Caracasmarker and New Orleansmarker respectively, by more than 25%. The rate of 130 murders per 100,000 inhabitants is the same as Caracas' 2008 statistic for same period. Journalist Charles Bowden, in an August 2008 GQ article, wrote that multiple factors, including drug violence, government corruption, and poverty have dispirited a disorderly atmosphere that now permeates the city.

Drug cartel violence

Due to Juárez' position on the border between the United States and Mexico, drug and arms traffickers have moved into the city and with them the local cocaine and methamphetamine market has expanded. In January 2004, Ciudad Juárez police unearthed a mass grave containing 12 bodies in a backyard. Mexican investigators found 19 more bodies buried in the backyard of a house in Ciudad Juárez, increasing the tally of corpses found there to 36, officials said March 15, 2008. Federal agents began digging in the yard on March 1, 2008, initially finding six dismembered bodies. Ciudad Juárez has been plagued by violence as Mexico's crackdown on powerful drug cartels stokes turf wars among traffickers who have been linked to thousands of killings in the years 2006, 2007 and 2008.

The body count in Mexico stands at 5,400 slayings in 2008, more than double the 2,477 reported in 2007, officials said, with over 1400 in Ciudad Juárez alone.The population of Ciudad Juárez had to change their daily routine and many try to stay home in the evening hours. Public life is almost paralyzed out of fear of being kidnapped or hit by a stray bullet. On 20 February 2009, the U.S.marker State Departmentmarker announced in an updated travel alert that "Mexican authorities report that more than 1,800 people have been killed in the city since January 2008." On 12 March 2009, police found "at least seven" partially buried bodies in the outskirts of the city, close to the US-Mexican border. Five severed heads were discovered in ice boxes, along with notes to rivals in the drug-wars. Beheadings, attacks on the police and shootings are common in some regions. In September 2009, 18 patients at a drug rehabilitation clinic called El Aliviane were massacred in a turf battle. Patients were lined up in the corridor and gunned down in the early evening. On September 3, 2009 the Associated Press reported that the day before gunmen broke down the door of the El Aliviane drug rehabilitation center and lined their victims up to a wall shooting 17 dead. The authorities had no immediate suspects or information on the victims. Plagued by corruption and the assassination of many of its officers, the government is struggling to maintain Ciudad Juárez's police force. Other police have quit the force out of fear of being targeted.In late 2008, one murder victim was found near a school hanging from a fence with a pig's mask on his face, and another one was found beheaded hanging from a bridge in one of the busier streets of the city.

Female sexual homicides

Crosses erected as a monument to victims of the Juárez homicides.
Over the past 10 years Juárez has seen over 400 women fall victims to sexual homicides, their bodies often dumped in ditches or vacant lots. In addition, grassroots organizations in the region report that 40 remain missing. Despite pressure to catch the killers and a roundup of some suspects, few believe the true culprits have been found. A 2007 book called The Daughters of Juárez, by Teresa Rodriguez, implicates high-level police and prominent Juárez citizens in the crimes. This topic is also discussed in the 2006 book "The Harvest of Women" by journalist Diana Washington Valdez, as well as in the novel 2666 by Roberto Bolaño, in which Ciudad Juárez is fictionalized as "Santa Teresa", a border city in Sonoramarker.

The number of murders overwhelmed the local authorities, which led to the construction of a US$6-million, high-tech laboratory complex that is a legacy of those killings. After an outcry over what was widely viewed as a slipshod investigation, international donors chipped in to help the State of Chihuahua build an unusually well-equipped forensics operation. It boasts a ballistics lab, chemical and genetic testing, DNA analysis and a morgue capable of storing nearly 100 bodies. But the murder rate of 2008 even overwhelmed this top of the line facility and during the peak of the murder spree refrigerated containers were used to deal with the record numbers of murder victims.


The El Paso Regional Economic Development Corporation indicated that Ciudad Juárez is the metropolis absorbing “more new industrial real estate space than any other North American city.” The Financial Times Group through its publication The Foreign Direct Investment Magazine ranked Ciudad Juárez as the “City of the Future” for 2007–2008. The Ciudad Juárez-El Paso area is a major manufacturing center. Electrolux, Bosch, Foxconn, Flextronics, Lexmark, Delphi, Visteon, Johnson Controls, Lear, Boeing, Cardinal Health, Yazaki, Sumitomo, and Siemens are some of the foreign companies that have chosen Ciudad Juárez for their business operation. The Mexican state of Chihuahua is frequently among the top five states in Mexico with the most foreign investment.


According to the latest estimates, literacy rate in the city is among the highest of the country: 97.3% of people above 15 years old are able to read and write. Juárez has three public and two private universities. The Instituto Tecnológico de Ciudad Juárez (ITCJ), founded in 1964, became the first public institution of higher education in the city. The Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez (UACJ), founded in 1968, is the largest university in the city and has been ranked among the best universities of the country. It has several locations inside of the city like the Faculty of Biomedicine, the Social Sciences Center, the Arts and Engineering Center and spaces for Fine Arts and Sports. This latter service is considered among the best because it recluses nearly 30,000 practicipants in sports like swimming, racquetball, basketball and gymnastics and arts like Classical Ballet, Drama, Modern Dance, Hawaiian and Polynesian Dances, Folkloric Dances, Music and Flamenco. The Faculty of Political and Social Sciences of the Autonomous University of Chihuahua (Universidad Autónoma de Chihuahua, UACH) is located in the city. The local campuses of the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Educationmarker (ITESM) and the Autonomous University of Durango (UAD) are private universities. The Monterrey Institute of Technology opened its campus in 1983 and it is preferred among the upper and middle classes of the city. It is ranked as "third best" among other campuses of the institution, after the Garza Sada campus in Monterrey and the Santa Fe campus in Mexico City.

Overall, the city offers a wide range of schools for every type of income and need. The city is widely recognized for its excellence in education, especially the one offered by the private sector. The main institutions in Ciudad Juárez are the Instituto Latinoamericano, a Catholic school directed from Spain, one of the colleges managed by the company founded by Spanish mystic Teresa de Avila, by direct order of the Pope to revert the effects of Protestantism in Spain; The Colegio Iberoamericano, The Middle School and High School of the ITESMmarker, the Teresa de Avila, the Instituto Mexico. Despite this, many people choose to study in the neighbor city of El Pasomarker, some for convenience.



Juárez has five local newspapers: El Diario, El Norte, El Mexicano, El PM and Hoy.


There are 16 over the air TV channel signals in the city: [13912]
Channel Name Affiliate Country Language Local National
2 Tu Canal XHJUB Spanish
4 CBS KDBCmarker English
5 Canal 5 XEJTV Spanish
7 ABC KVIAmarker English
9 NBC KTSMmarker English
11 Azteca 13 XHCJE Spanish
13 PBS KCOSmarker English
14 Fox KFOX-TVmarker English
20 Azteca 7 XHCJH Spanish
26 Univision KINT-TVmarker Spanish
32 Canal de las Estrellas XEW-TV Spanish
40 Multimedios K40FW Spanish
44 Canal 44 XHIJ Spanish
48 Telemundo KTDOmarker Spanish
56 Canal 5 XHGC Spanish
65 TeleFutura KTFNmarker Spanish

In addition, there are three different paid television signals available, as well as 24 radio station signals in AM and 21 in FM.



Like in most of Mexico, soccer is the most popular sport in Juárez. The local soccer team is Indios de Ciudad Juárez. Baseball, basketball, tennis and American football are also popular, most of which are played at the high schools and university level. A soccer team named Los Indios resides in this city and was just recently promoted to the Primera Division (Main division) for the 2008 season. The Indios rent the stadium Estadio Olímpico Benito Juárezmarker. Juárez has 2 large stadiums: Estadio Olímpico Benito Juárez and Estadio 20 de Noviembre. Mountain biking is also popular, with the Chupacabras 100 km race held annually in Juárez.

Very near the Cordova International Bridgemarker is a large combination bmx and skatepark, Parque Extremo. This park features a concrete area with multiple ramps, rails, boxes, etc, and a dirt area with ramps and tracks for bmx riding. It is much larger than the skate parks in nearby cities El Paso, Texasmarker, and Las Cruces, New Mexicomarker.

Ciudad Juárez served as the host of the CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament in 2008.

In film and other media

Songs about Ciudad Juarez

Juarez es el #1 performed by Juan Gabriel

Arriba Juarez performed by Juan Gabriel

Ciudad Juarez performed by Maria Barracuda

Ciudad de Bajas Pasiones performed by Enrique Bunbury

Cocaine Blues performed by Johnny Cash

Dr. Bernice performed by Cracker

Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues performed by Bob Dylan

Juarez performed by Tori Amos

When Sinatra Played Juarez performed by Tom Russell

Hands On The Radio performed by Chris Garneau

Places of interest

Rio Bravo at night.
  • Antigua Presidencia Municipal: (Old City Hall) Built in the 19th century, using volcanic materials and adobe, with originally fine woods. Site to many historic events.
  • Mission de Guadalupe: The oldest standing building in Juárez, from the 17th century. Continuously used by the Catholic Church.
  • Auditorio Civico Benito Juárez: The local theater for the arts.
  • Auditorio Municipal: The new state of the art theater built behind the UACJ Med School.
  • Zona Pronaf: Bars, museums, shops, restaurants, entertainment. In the Zona Pronaf, one can find bars such as La Mulata, Cafe Dali, Don Quintin, San Martin, The News, Ole Bar Chamucos, among others.
  • Estadio Olímpico Benito Juárez: Home of the local soccer team Los Indios (The Indians).
  • Avenida Juárez: Bars and shops.
  • Parque Chamizal: Green area of the city, that consist of a park of over with jogging trails, swings and recreational areas, which was once shared by El Paso and Juárez, was given back to Mexico by J.F.K in the early 1960s.
  • Museo del Concorde: A place to see original parts of the airliner.
  • Centro Cívico Paso del Norte (Opened on December 2006 and has been home of the Festival Internacional Chihuahua since).
  • Misiones, Galerias Tec, Plaza Juárez and Rio Grande shopping malls.
  • Parque Central: (Central Park) A family-oriented recreational area located south of the US-Mexico border.
  • Parque Xtremo: The largest extreme park in Latin America.
  • Cibeles: Convention Center

Notable people


External links

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