El Paso And Juarez: Shared Border, Shared Troubles Tensions are high along the border between El Paso, Texas, and Cuidad Juarez, Mexico, after a Juarez teenager was shot and killed by a U.S. border patrol agent last month. Renee Montagne talks with Juarez Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz and El Paso Mayor John Cook about how border issues are playing out in their cities.
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El Paso And Juarez: Shared Border, Shared Troubles

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El Paso And Juarez: Shared Border, Shared Troubles

El Paso And Juarez: Shared Border, Shared Troubles

El Paso And Juarez: Shared Border, Shared Troubles

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/128506443/128506455" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Tensions are high along the border between El Paso, Texas, and Cuidad Juarez, Mexico, after a Juarez teenager was shot and killed by a U.S. border patrol agent last month. Renee Montagne talks with Juarez Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz and El Paso Mayor John Cook about how border issues are playing out in their cities.

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

Welcome to both of you.

JOHN COOK: It's good to be on the show.

JOSE REYES: Thank you.

MONTAGNE: What is it like trying to manage a city with that level of violence?

REYES: And of course having that war between those groups of organized crime in our city makes managing the city very, very difficult.

MONTAGNE: Well, also, you're in an unusual position for a mayor. I mean, you read stories - there was a mayor from another city that was killed in Juarez while he was escaping from the cartels that were inflicting violence on his city.

REYES: Unfortunately, the mayor of Guadalupe was killed about three or four weeks ago, one of the good guys fighting the drug cartels doing this business along the border. It's very sad for all of us.

MONTAGNE: And Mayor Cook, El Paso's City Hall days ago took some bullets coming over from Juarez, I gather.

COOK: There's probably been millions of rounds fired in Juarez in the last two years and for only seven bullets to have reached the United States I think is remarkable.

MONTAGNE: Well, then is it the case that people in El Paso feel pretty safe?

COOK: I would hate to generalize how everybody in El Paso feels, but I think it would something like this. You know, our hearts go out to our neighbors in Juarez. Many of us have relatives that live over there; family members, business associates. We're used to traveling there very frequently when the border was peaceful. But on this side of the border, yes, we do feel extremely safe and extremely confident that the violence is not going to spread over.

MONTAGNE: How do the two of you respond to something like that, something that's seen one way probably on the Mexico side and another maybe on the U.S. side?

FERRIZ: We didn't discuss whether there was culpability or not on the Border Patrol agent. We really - that has to be solved by the FBI and other investigative agencies. But we went ahead and took decisive action to prevent this thing from happening again.

MONTAGNE: And, Mayor Cook, how often do you talk?

COOK: Well, you know, Mayor Reyes and I both have each others cell phone numbers. We don't hesitate to use them. He even has one of his staff as a resident in my office - next to mine, as a matter of fact. And I think both of us would agree that the border between El Paso and Juarez doesn't separate us. It joins us together socially, culturally and economically. So there has to be a lot of communication.

MONTAGNE: Well, one last question for you, Mayor Reyes. Your term is up in October. Your successor has already been elected. How do you feel about leaving this job? A lot of us out here might think you'd be breathing a sigh of relief.

FERRIZ: Yes, a very difficult job. And when you have a job like that, you really do think about having a good vacation.

MONTAGNE: Well, also though in your case, I can't believe you haven't feared for your life.

FERRIZ: Yeah, it's always a consideration. And the threats that have been made we don't take lightly at all.

MONTAGNE: Jose Reyes is the mayor of Juarez in the State of Chihuahua, Mexico. John Cook is the mayor of El Paso, Texas. Thank you both very much for joining us.

COOK: Oh, you're welcome.

FERRIZ: Thank you, Renee.

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