In a bid to remake its violent image, the Mexican city of Juárez is dismantling a huge sign along the U.S. border that reads: “No More Weapons!”
The sign, made from the steel of guns seized by Mexican authorities, was erected in 2012 by former President Felipe Calderón as a protest to the illegal trade of weapons with the U.S.
“Mayor Enrique Serrano said Wednesday that the billboard was being taken down because Juarez wants to project a more tourist-friendly image.
“‘This was the main diplomatic expression of its time, telling the United States not to allow more weapons in,’ Serrano said. ‘But it is a topic that should be addressed more politely.’
“‘We want to have a message of welcome, of extending open arms to tourism,’ said the mayor.”
As NPR’s Mandalit Del Barco reported earlier this month, Juarez has also been experiencing a drop in crime. At one time, the city was so engulfed by drug violence that it became the murder capital of the world.
Mandalit reported that the violence has receded and tourists from the other side of the border in El Paso are streaming in again.
Fronteras Desk visited the city more recently. They reported:
“Juárez has been making a multimillion dollar effort to scrub its violent image and resurrect the days when Americans would treat the city like their playground.
“At a taxi stand just beyond the international bridge, driver Joe Juárez said the violence hurt his business. Not only have fewer tourists been coming across, but he was forced to pay a monthly extortion fee to criminal gangs.
“‘Now things are better,’ he said. ‘There’s less crime. I need the American tourists now.'”