CIUDAD JUÁREZ, México — Roaming the city is not what it used to be; the once busy and bustling city is losing money and residents very quickly. Recent provisional data from the INEGI show that Juárez has lost about 24% of its population. A city of 1.3 million has shrunk to one million, and 60 thousand families have migrated to other areas of Mexico or to the U.S.
As a result of this people flight, statistics from the Colegio de la Frontera Norte reveal that 116,000 houses have been abandoned, leaving 24% of the city’s homes empty. Yet those statistics may be erroneous because a study form the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez reveals that the sum might be closer to 100 thousand families leaving the city, leaving half a million (or about 40%) less inhabitants.
These latter numbers do coincide; an article posted by the Diario de Juarez states that since 2006 nearly 110 thousand Mexican citizens asked for political asylum in the U.S., but only 183 obtained the asylum, less that 2% of the total. This has left many families no choice but to reside illegally in the neighboring city of El Paso.
Mar Patricia Gutierrez, a manager for a Juarez real estate company also verifies the exodus: “the sales have plummeted to the floor, a few years ago we would sell at least five or six houses every week, now we sell about two to four a month”.
In an associated story published by El Diario, a Juarez daily newspaper, Pablo Hernandez from the Asociación Mexicana de Profesionales Inmobiliarios de Ciudad Juárez (AMPI) says that 116,000 houses are empty, 14% of the industrial space is empty and about 40% of local businesses are closing; the Servicio de Administracion Tributaria or SAT, states that since 2008, 10,670 businesses have closed, both for the economic crisis and the insecurity issues.
Likewise in El Paso, Kandice Diaz from the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, notes that their stats from 2009 show that 202 clients have asked for information to expand or transfer their business to El Paso. This is a significant 40% hike compared to 2008.
Out of those 202 clients, 20 business owners asked for financial assistance and the majority of trades that those clients are involved in are food services, construction, retail trade, manufacturing, public administration, arts and recreation, professional science and technology, healthcare, wholesale trade and transportation and warehousing.
Clearly, many Mexican nationals have moved their businesses to El Paso, which has added to the already growing population due to the expanding military base at Fort Bliss.
Experts predict that the city will see an economic growth in the future.
“Even though the times are tough, sales have been steady or at least have not decreased drastically,” said Paul Tarango, owner of the Tortuga Sports Lounge in El Paso. This is partly due to hardship; people still want to go out and relax, have dinner or a beer and have a good time. This added to the fact that a lot of people from Juarez are now starting to party in El Paso because clubbing in Juarez is a gamble.
Will this boost really help the city? Or is it a high tide phase that will eventually drag the economy down once the situation in Juárez goes back to normal and the businesses go back? Time and patience will be the only means to find out, yet to many time is a commodity they cannot afford.