Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fiesta Juárez 2014

Ever since the Ham Sandwich Fiasco of 2011, I've done my best to avoid reading the comments that follow online news articles. I often find myself wondering what life was like before the Internet, when readers just kept their quiet, psycho thoughts to themselves. But I am a Millennial, so that is neither here nor there. People tend to say the most asinine things when they are behind the protection of a computer screen. So when the El Paso Times did a piece on Fiesta Juárez 2014, I should have known what would follow and ignored it, but I slipped and ended up sifting through the comments on Facebook.

It was the same bullshit that people have to say about Juárez anytime the city makes a cameo in a US publication. I guess I'm still a bit naive though because each time I read a hopeful piece about how my city is on the mend and that the violence is a fraction of what it was, there is a small part of me that expects a more supportive reaction from our neighbors to the North. Obviously it's not all lollipops and rainbows in Mexico these days, but in many areas things have calmed down significantly.

After reading this article about a carnival in Juárez that is back up and running this year after a 4 year hiatus due to violence, I stupidly expected people to be more excited. I mean, El Pasoans are always telling me about the glorious days they spent in Juárez, "before the drug war."

They go on and on about the food and the music and the clubs and the tequila and the parks and the people and all the fun they used to have. And this is their big chance to have it all back again, all wrapped up into one event. But no. No, it's too dangerous. Despite the promises from the organizers of Fiesta Juárez for heightened security this time around, and the reassurance that times are indeed changing in the area, many people just couldn't be convinced. That's understandable.

Even though things are improving here, I don't mean to make light of the struggles Juárez has had. I know first-hand how it has affected people. We too witnessed corpses on the side of the road and lost friends in the midst of this... Mess. But at some point, we had to move past it and keep on living. Everyone does. And glorifying what is actually happening today in Juárez and living in the past doesn't help anyone. There are 1.5 million people in this city who need to move on with their lives and in a border town such as this, it's going to take some cooperation from our friends from the North.

Juárez is deeply connected with El Paso and vice versa. One cannot survive without the other. If people aren't going to Juárez to spend their dollars, then people won't be going to El Paso to spend their pesos. Without the trade and tourism from one city to the next, both would just be another dusty ghost town in the Southwest. Comments like those that I read on this news article only add to the real problem.

"I heard they'll be giving out free shots." 
"Youth?!?!?! There wont b any youth the rate they goin over there.." 
"Get up missing posters out if u go.....An have people crying on y this happened." 
"What so the cartel can shoot it up na I'm good." 
"Everyone make sure to wear yur bullit proof vests..." 
"Oh lovely a huge target for the drug cartel! Let's hope nothing goes down because I don't want those stray bullets hitting anyone here in El Paso!" 
"BYOG" 
"Nah I rather deploy and get paid to get shot at"

When was the last time these people were in Juárez? Have they ever even been to Juárez? Those were the first things I wondered after reading their responses to the article. I went against my promise to myself and engaged. I had to know. I questioned people directly only to find that they hadn't been in the city for years, and in a few cases, ever.

So if you haven't been here for years and clearly don't know what you are talking about, why take the time to comment? Why feed into the negativity? Why glamorize and exaggerate the violence in a city you know nothing about? It seems that the people commenting usually live along the North side of the border but don't have any current ties to Mexico. I don't get it. That would be like me pretending to have some sort of first-hand experience with the tragedies in Ferguson just because I grew up in Kansas City. It's ridiculous.

I know I've said this before, but it's almost as if people want Juárez to fail. They want it to be some sort of dangerous, no man's land where anything goes and justice went to die. I know that sounds insane, but the more and more I talk to Americans about their current perspective of the city, the clearer it becomes. Maybe I'm over simplifying, but it seems as if by categorizing Juárez as no more than a crime-ridden, violent city, it makes people feel better about the US and it's current state of affairs. And of course, violence sells newspapers and magazines and books, right? If the media can continue to point a finger at Mexico, they don't have to stop to look at the source of the problem.

Look at those Mexicans, killing their own people, selling drugs, smuggling immigrants. Shame on them.

The longer America wags it's finger, the longer it can ignore it's drug addiction, it's archaic immigration laws, it's questionable policies on gun control. And eventually, the viewpoints of certain news outlets inevitably trickle down to their readers. I really need to learn how to just keep scrolling. No matter what.

I honestly didn't mean to go off on such a tangent, but people get me going sometimes. I really just wanted to share pictures of our night at la feria, sans bulletproof vests. Because the truth is, Juárez is rebuilding. Like it or not, Juárez is putting the pieces back together. This city is resilient and it's people are insanely strong. I have faith that everyone will see that strength in time.


































To anyone who is in the area and still on the fence about whether or not to venture back into Juárez or go to this fair:

Go. Have fun. Don't listen to all the crap you read in the paper. Instead of reminiscing about the Juárez that used to be, go enjoy what it is today. I wasn't here before, but I know in my heart of hearts what Juárez truly is today. The city needs you to move on if this violent stigma is ever going to go away. The last day to enjoy Fiesta Juárez is November 2nd. Don't miss your chance.

Diviértete.


27 comments:

  1. Sigh. People can be so judgey sometimes without a leg to stand on. Slightly unrelated, what are those delicious football shaped things in your pictures?

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  3. Love the way you write about Cd. Juarez. I have never been there but I'm mexican and I love to hear positive things about my country. And of course I do believe that soon Cd. Juarez is going to be what it used to be. Thank you!

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  4. Viva Juarez, and Viva You, Emily. I'm so glad that you are blogging. Maria Lee

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  5. Thank you so much for posting this. I want to visit so badly, but my husband still has reservations. I want to taste the food, and see the city again. I want to take my children to enjoy the culture. I want them to be greatful Americans, experience a part of who I was as a child. These pictures are so beautiful to see. They bring a sense of joy and happiness to me. I hope to be able to visit again one day. Maybe you can give us a tour of the new Juarez as I'm sure it's changed plenty since I was a child. Thank you again for sharing these beautiful pictures with us.

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    1. I hope you get the chance to visit again ASAP. Thank you. And yes, I'd be glad to give a tour.

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  6. My husband and I took our kids to Juarez two weeks ago to go to our first family party after a seven year hiatus. It was awesome. I can't believe how much Juarez has changed. We drove past the Feria and promised ourselves we would go, but...life got in the way. But I promised my cousin I will run the next Juarez half marathon with her. I am excited about the proposition of having Juarez back in my life.

    Not gonna lie, though. We took a wrong turn and ended up taking the downtown bridge back. On a Saturday night. It was a bit scary. Definitely not the downtown strip of my youth. But other than that, we felt perfectly safe.

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    1. I hope you get to run in that half. 13.1! Ambitious. We try to avoid downtown, to be honest. Only because my husband had a bad experience there shortly after we moved. I happen to love being in el centro.

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  7. It's not just Juarez that people want to see fail, it is all of Mexico. Those of us that know and love it here, keep trying to educate and battle the negativity and it often feels like spitting into the wind. But, we keep trying. Nah, not perfect by any means, but ditch those travel warnings that seem to come out daily, U.S.

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    1. I know Zoe. I kept it to Juarez to avoid the backlash, to be honest. I haven't ever traveled outside of Sonora and Chihuahua so I was avoiding the "you don't know what you're talking about" responses... Thanks for educating amiga.

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  8. So glad you're spreading the word about Juarez. I love living in this dusty, windy city with such a heart. I moved to Juarez from a city that is a very popular tourist destination in the US. In the two years since I've been here, my former city has experienced three mass shootings. Who lives in danger now?

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    1. I'm a Juárez native and that's exactly my tought. Bad guys & bad experiences everywhere no matter where you live.
      Thanks to Emily for allowing us to spread our thoughts and opinions on this great blog.

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    2. Exactly. But Tabbies, where did you move from and why? Just curious.

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  9. Ah Emily. Thanks so much for your blog. Regular news seems to feed the human craving for negativity. Your blog is such a lovely counter view.

    Annie

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  10. Thanks so much! I am an expat that lives in Saltillo myself for the past 8 years. Thanks so much for writing this.

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  11. I moved to Carlsbad, NM this past June to work in the oil fields. I would love to find a mate in a border town like Juarez or even Chihuahua. I've looked at the classifieds, thinking of posting an ad. If anyone can be of real assistance in introducing an American guy to nice Latin ladies, please let me know. I'm looking for more than just tips and advice. Everyone has those. Right and wrong.

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    1. Jeff. Congratulations on your new job. I hope it's fairing well for you. I am a firm believer in coupling out of love, not in searching for a "certain type" in a "certain" location. I believe that love finds you when you least expect it. And so, I have no advice for you. Best of luck in your endeavors.

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    2. I 100% agree about love finding you. I just thought I'd increase my chances with a woman who might better appreciate a hard working/earning man. Especially if she's a latin. In the US, black men in general are invisible to latin women. And because the income playing field is about equal there's no incentive to see things another way. I guess I was hoping for someone to say if I come south they'll show me around and introduce me to good people. At the same time I understand how/why that might not be the case. I'm not afraid of a little adventure to go it alone. I just hope I don't end up in the wrong place(s)... Thank you for you blog/words. :)

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  12. Emily you can say I am in the same boat as you.y husband is currently in Juarez. Unable to able until 2024. I am debating if we (my 2 kids and me) should move to juarez with my hisband and be a family. Or he should try crossing How would you say life is different or what to expect if I move.

    My side of the family is from Juarez. I did go for 1 week to visit about 3 month tres ago. However, it was the first time in 15 years I went due to being afraid on the violence.

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  13. I absolutely loved this positive article. People can continue to think the worst of Juárez but life truly goes on.

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  14. I was glad to read this post, even though it's from last year. My husband and I spent a week in Juarez in October and we really enjoyed ourselves! We went on a tour of the city, saw the cathedral, the archeological museum, went to the lookouts, etc. I, too, hope that the city can move beyond it's reputation here. It's a beautiful city with a lot to offer.

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  15. You can make $20 for each 20 minute survey!

    Guess what? This is exactly what major companies are paying me for. They need to know what their average customer needs and wants. So these companies pay millions of dollars every month to the average person. In return, the average person, like me, fills out surveys and gives them their opinion.

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