Mexican photojournalist Julian Cardona has lived in Ciudad Juarez since 1960 and began documenting the city in the early 1990s as a photojournalist for the local newspaper, El Diario. He says he’s seen Juarez shift from an idyllic postcard-worthy border town to the city known as the homicide capital of the world.
The 1990s were a crucial point for Ciudad Juarez: the city was rapidly expanding, industry was booming from U.S. factories. This sudden growth set the stage for a future of violence, Cardona said in an interview with PBS News Hour:
“In some way, I saw it coming. The city was growing in a chaotic way, and that wasn’t sustainable for any society,” the photojournalist said.
First, kidnapping and murders of women in Juarez. Then, public violence and gang executions — a sudden rise of violence that resulted in over 10,000 homicides in the past three years, Cardona added.
Many residents of Juarez left the city since the drug war escalated to citywide violence in 2005, but Cardona says he was determined to stay.
“I’m staying because it is my city. It’s an important story, how a city becomes the most violent city on Earth. I was able to do it, and I’m OK with that. It’s my job,” Cardona said.