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ciudad juarez tour bus Come and visit, say city officials.

The welcome mat is out in Ciudad Juárez

Drug cartels are over, say city officials as they launch tourism promotion

They’re eager to welcome tourists back to Ciudad Juárez, but some say they’re over-eager.

“Juárez is Waiting for You” is the name of a new promotion launched by a city that just a few years ago was labeled the murder capital of the world. But that was then, according to city officials, who say the nasty drug cartel wars are over.

“The purpose of this campaign is to vindicate the city’s image abroad and demonstrate the levels of security and peace that we have reached,” said Mayor Enrique Serrano during the campaign kick-off earlier this month, which is attempting to rebrand the city. The reduction in violence has been drastic: homicides peaked in 2010 at over 3,600; last year there were 424. But that’s still rather more than the United States’ murder capitals of Detroit with 309 and Baltimore with 211.

The revival of Juarez’ fortunes has been credited in large part with civic organizations that stepped up to the plate in the absence of effective government strategies to counter crime. One of those doubts the campaign will be very effective. Plan Estratégico de Juárez believes it is necessary to address the root problems that led to the crime wave in the first place. “It is like washing a face when the rest of the body is still dirty, sick of corruption, impunity, poverty and inequality,” said director Sergio Meza.

A recent study found that citizens remain concerned about security and violent crime, whose levels are still worrying, said Meza. “To say that Juárez is a safe city is just not accurate.”

The U.S. State Department would probably agree with that assessment. Its new travel warning for Mexico, issued last week, advised caution when traveling to shopping and business districts in the city’s northeast section, in major industrial parks and downtown.

Source: El Paso Times (en)

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