Paul Theroux Writes the Border

Here’s a story in the Smithsonian Magazine by literary giant Paul Theroux about the U.S.-Mexico border, with a guest appearance by Juarez journalist Julián Cardona.

The border city of Juárez was notorious for achieving what is likely the 2010 world record for violent homicides—3,622 shootings, stabbings, lynchings and death by torture. “Don’t go there,” people say. Yet it’s next-door, and the number of murders annually has dropped to less than Chicago’s 468 homicides last year. (Earlier this year, Juárez was removed from the list of the world’s most violent cities.) When the wind is southerly the risen dust of Juárez can make you sneeze in El Paso. The cityscape twinkles at night; by day it is tawny brown and low-lying, scattered along the south bank of the Rio Grande, easily visible from its sister city across the river in Texas. You can sometimes hear its honking horns on the American side, and in its year of mass murder the rat-tat of gunshots was easily audible and some bullets fired in Juárez damaged El Paso’s buildings.

The story seems dated, even though Mr. Theroux visited in April and the story came online Wednesday. But it’s good to see the border through the eyes of an observant visitor.

Read the whole story at Smithsonian Magazine.

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