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Commentary: Is it two or one?

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Two cities separated by an international border. One located in Mexico, the other in the United States. One is known for the violence of the drug cartels, while the other is rated as the safest city in the U.S. by CQ Press in 2010. These two cities make up what is called "the borderland" by the locals: Juarez, Mexico and El Paso, Texas.

No matter where you live in this region, you can see the other city when you walk out the front door; to the north El Paso, and to the south Juarez. Since these two cities have no distance between each other, except for the width of the Rio Grande, some outsiders combine the two cities into one.  However, that is not the case.

As Geoff Calkins, of the Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn, wrote in an article about Conference USA choosing El Paso to host the 2011 conference basketball tournament instead of Memphis, “Who needs Breakfast at Wimbledon when you've got Breakfast Burritos with C-USA?”

Let’s stop right there. As I recall, I did not have any burritos for breakfast when I went home last week for spring break. Being a little too harsh, maybe? But why associate eating breakfast burritos and a basketball tournament together? Is it because most of the population in El Paso is Hispanic? Or because the city is located right on the border, next to Juarez? Maybe so, but only Calkins knows what's going on in that little brain of his.

These two cities seem to be combined together by people who don’t know their facts just because there is nothing in between them except for water, when there is water in the Rio Grande. But the point is they are two different cities, with their own identity.

Now, I can’t talk for Juarez, mainly because I haven’t been there for some time, but I can talk for El Paso.

In the years that I’ve lived there, I’ve heard some say there is not much to do there. And to tell you the truth, they have a point. There are no major sports or major attractions for families to visit. But it does give its residents and visitors a sense of Hispanic and Mexican culture on our side of the border.

For instance, when the Sun Bowl and the basketball tournament, were held a few weeks ago, the teams were greeted by mariachi bands and folkloric dancers at the airport.

When you drive down the streets of the city, its hard not to see a Mexican restaurant with authentic Mexican food.

Yes, the city does use cultural customs from Mexico, but it blends them with things found here in America. There is a semi-pro hockey team. There is a minor league baseball with the nickname of "Diablos." There are steakhouses, and places to get hamburgers and pizza. The thing with El Paso is that it is a city in the U.S. with a little flavor of Mexico.

Jean Torres, a college student who lives in El Paso, said she would be shocked if someone told her that Juarez and El Paso are the same place.

She added that both cities have Mexican themes throughout the city, but El Paso has organization in the city, whereas Juarez has chaos happening everyday.

Fred Gonzalez, a friend of Torres, also agrees with the statement about organization of the two cities.

"It's not the same place. Juarez is corrupted. Their own law enforcement is corrupt as well," Gonzalez said. "At least here we can keep the violence down. Our system has more control."

Ramiro Garza, a student at the University of Texas at El Paso, said it's ignorant for people to think that the cities are the same place.

He added people should get their facts straight before they make a generalization like that.

Two cities, separated by an international border. They might have similar themes and influences on each other, but they are two different places. They are El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico.

Written by Christopher J. Valverde You are reading Commentary: Is it two or one? articles

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