Angel Corral is in many ways the new face of a city long known for its criminal gangsters and one of the world’s highest homicide rates. At 29, with pale green eyes and a can-do spirit, Corral is riding Ciudad Juarez’s return to life, running three nightclubs and investing in a gym. Where all his money comes from is not exactly clear, but no one seems to be asking questions.
The reasons for the border town’s revival are also unclear, and the uplift could well prove short-lived. But there is no question that homicides have declined precipitously and that shuttered businesses are reopening. As the city climbs out of the depths of despair, Corral and a host of other residents — including returning exiles — are jumping aboard.
Just a couple of years ago, Gomez Morin Boulevard, at the commercial heart of Juarez, had become a ghost town, like much of the city just across the Rio Grande from El Paso. Drug, extortion and kidnapping gangs ran amok, fighting turf wars and terrorizing rich and poor. Today, much of the city, including the boulevard where the bar is located, is bustling, replete with signs saying “Now open” outside restaurants, casinos, spas and yoga studios.