Chefs cut slices of meet to prepare pastor tacos, left, a variety of the Mexican dish made with pork cooked on a rotisserie, during an event called the "Tacoton" in Chihuahua City, Mexico, Friday, Feb. 16, 2007. The pastor taco weighed 3.5 metric tons and was 4 meters (13 feet) high, Mexican government news agency Notimex reported.(AP Photo/Hector Lozoya Fernndez- Diario Chihuahua)

AURORA | Aurora’s City Council allowed a proposal naming Chihuahua as their newest sister city to move forward Monday despite some lawmakers expressing concerns about cartel violence south of Mexico border.

Aurora has sister cities currently in Adama, Ethiopia, and Seongnam, South Korea. The relationship is meant to encourage cultural and economic exchange, and sponsors of the proposal mentioned Chihuahua’s robust manufacturing sector and young workforce as reasons why Americans choose to do business there.

But it was the ongoing turf war between Mexico’s drug cartels that turned two council conservatives against the proposal.

Councilmember Francoise Bergan mentioned cartel terror tactics such as beheadings and kidnappings at Monday’s council meeting, while Councilmember Danielle Jurinsky read information from a website about the risks of traveling through northern Mexico.

“Thank God, as of right now, we don’t live under cartel rule here in Aurora,” Jurinsky said. “I’m very alarmed by all of this, and I think that my colleagues should be as well. If you’re willing to overlook the crime rate there, and you want to make us a sister city, are you willing to overlook our crime rate here?”

Chihuahua is the capital of the Mexican state of the same name bordering Texas and New Mexico. Once the base of revolutionary Pancho Villa, the city was established as San Felipe de Real in 1709 on the lands of the indigenous Tarahumara people. Over the centuries, it has grown into one of Mexico’s most economically competitive cities.

But like other cities in the region, it has been caught in the crossfire of cartel violence. A recent report by the Institute for Economics & Peace classified the state of Chihuahua’s homicide rate as “extreme,” meaning the state experienced more than 48.9 homicides per 100,000 people in 2021.

Colorado saw 6.3 homicides per 100,000 people during that time, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The Mexican federal government blames much of their nation’s violent crime on its drug gangs.

Councilmember Juan Marcano, who sponsored the sister city proposal, questioned why Chihuahua’s struggle against violence was relevant and said the concerns raised by conservatives were “exceptionally racist.”

“I’m having a really hard time trying to follow the logic you all are laying down here,” Marcano says. “A sister city relationship is not a conduit for any of this negative stuff that you all are wanting to focus on. … I’m really disappointed by some of the very weird things that were just said.”

Bergan replied that she did not think talking about crime was racist and noted that, in the past, the city had sent the mayor and council members to cities considered for sister city status. Jurinsky responded to Marcano’s accusation of racism by saying that she “employs people of all different backgrounds and cultures.”

Bergan also said she was unsure how much of an economic impact Aurora’s sister city relationships actually have. Karlyn Shorb, executive director of Aurora Sister Cities International, said her organization’s Korea committee was having an “incredible” impact, bringing small businesses to Korea as well as Korean restaurant chains to Aurora.

Shorb said Chicago’s relationship with Mexico City led to intercity trade agreements and said she thought a relationship with Chihuahua could generate a significant economic benefit for the city, even as she described the impacts of sister cities as “long-term.” 

Ana Valles, who previously lived in Chihuahua and who co-chairs a committee supporting the sister cities proposal, described it as “a modern and very dynamic city” and said the local government would be able to help with security for any delegation sent by Aurora.

“I’m sure they struggle with their own perceptions of violence as we do here in our own community,” Shorb said of Chihuahua. “We’re going to face those challenges anywhere we travel around the world. That shouldn’t prevent us from creating a friendship. In fact, it should probably encourage it.”

Valles said the majority of Latinos in Aurora are of Mexican descent, a fact supported by U.S. Census Bureau data, and that the majority of Coloradans from Mexico can trace their roots to Chihuahua, information that she said came from the Mexican consulate in Denver.

Only Bergan and Jurinsky expressed opposition to the proposal, meaning it was slated to be voted on formally at a future City Council meeting.

Join the Conversation


  1. I must question Marcano’s motive to form an international relationship with the most violent city in Mexico–a city where the cartels control the manufacture of industrial amounts of deadly fentanyl for which possession has been reduced by our Colorado legislature. And which is finding its way to more and more Aurora children.

    Marcano is cozy with these current state legislators and is running for Aurora mayor.

    1. Correction: The state of Chihuahua is the most violent in Mexico; the city of Chihuahua is the capital of that state. And for the commenters below, its violent crime rate is multiples higher than Colorado or Aurora, it’s not even a close comparison.

  2. It’s crazy to me that Juan Marcano, wants to call anyone a racist that just disagrees with his socialist stances. How could anything be racist about selecting a Sister City?

    Now he wants to be our cities Mayor. Don’t you see how silly that is. Can you imagine having Aurora being led by a declared Socialist. What is this country coming to that we would even consider this situation.

    1. literally most of us Mr Moore are progressive and believe in The Declaration of Independence

      We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

      as well as:

      The Constitution of the United States

      We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

      and what is the source of : “ beheadings and kidnappings’?

  3. Cartel rule here in Aurora? Beheadings and kidnappings? Okay Jurinsky and Bergan, let’s focus on negatives and horror stories instead of the positives. It seems both of you are missing the point of embracing different cultures and engaging in friendship, understandng and acceptance of others. Creating more fear and skepticism doesn’t exactly promote peace

  4. How hypocritical it is for Aurora council members to criticize Chihuahua when we in Aurora have exactly the same problems: gangs, guns, drugs, and political leaders who just shrug in response.

      1. Understand Ms. Jurinsky that there are tens of thousands of Aurora voters that very much appreciate your never ending fight to stop socialism, represented by Marcano, Coombs and the child legislator Murillo within our City. My never ending thanks to you.

  5. Seems to me this Council ought to be focused on their core responsibilities. Once they have the consent deceree sorted out, the police department staffed to ereasonable levels if not the levels required of anothe rconsent decree, the roads repaired, water rights secured, employees paid a wage that at least marginally keeps up with the cost of living, and a reasonable tax base established that is not dependant on the dying sales tax, then they can have their partisan squabbles on nonessential issues, on matters not central to running the city. What next, partisan fighting and juvenile and vitriolic bame calling over whether we are an All America City or should be an All American City?

  6. How quickly the commentary moves to denigrate councilperson Marcano as opposed to debating the policy points of adopting a sister city. I’m reminding of the simple lessons learned in kids church about how God loved us before we loved him – and he loved us unconditionally. While that is simply my personal belief system, I think the tenet holds true: as that “shining city on the hill” we have the ability to embrace our Mexican neighbors through partnership. We can and must do better than the narrow, xenophobic, nationalist mindset.

  7. Apparently, as city representative you are now considered a racist if you provide empirical evidence to debate in a public meeting that Mexican Cartel politics exist and in fact affects a potential sister city with their corrosive criminal power. These dangerous Cartels have gained power to now have destroyed any safety to American citizens traveling in that failed state.
    Who says culture and political correctness doesn’t drive politics. This extension of these politicians’ position to impose on you and me their socialist line of thinking never fails. This guy, with his full blown socialist political agenda, the candidate for Mayor/comrade, can’t be emphasized enough! For him being PC is key and most crucial on his decision-making process of how business is done.

    CM Marcano, comes up with his silly uninformed logic argument     “sister city relationship is not a conduit for any of this negative stuff” That is terrifying insight of how little this guy really knows. Anybody with just a little more age than Marcano, or reads a little more history knows the before and after history of what a whole county next door is akin to a county-sister city as-it-were.  That door to be a trade partner was unlocked with a treaty, The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) 1994. Now please tell us CM Marcano, that different crime culture has not slowly kept its way into lowering the public safety, particularly in the cities that are naive to the Cartel presence. The Cartel already has its organizations sophisticated seedy fingerprints around Aurora into different business ventures. Just like a recent California case in Burbank Ca.  Cartel influence is here as well. It’s easy to see for most, its on display every day.

    1. Excellent points, Dean. Your well-reasoned and supported argument seems woefully out of place here. By contrast, others think they can simply reject facts and state their own “truth.”

      To claim that a “sister city relationship is not a conduit for any of this negative stuff” indicates that Marcano is unfamiliar with what a sister city relationship is even about, aside from a boondoggle for him on the taxpayer’s dime.

      1. no Blaze but you apparently are unfamiliar with what a sister city relationship is all about.
        Chihuahua is the twelfth largest city in Mexico, and one of the most industrialized. Manufacturing is very important and there are nine major industrial parks and 79 maquila manufacturing plants, which employ about 45,000 people.

      1. I did. It was in the form of a link. The Sentinel curiously omits my link to one interesting case in LA. There are more to most folks that care to pay attention. You will not see the full intimidation force as long as there is little resistance. The resistance comes from territory control – take over-take back, and Doug, then you might be able to understand that concept of fear. But violence as a first-choice tool is bad for business and brings unnecessary and unwanted heat. Be that as it may, Doug that is what it may take for you to be persuaded. Something that the public does not see or really pay too much attention too is the number of Federal cases some here in Denver that involve dirt poor illegals show up here opening fairly sophisticated businesses. I have put a link below. There is much more to the dealership story as where the seed money came from and how the cars were recycled coming back over the border. These were not junker level cars either. You don’t hear about it. The bigger problem is the Cartel influence has been gaining and you never see these agencies wanting to admit much of it, including the FBI. So, Doug, certainly suit yourself and wonder away at what’s going on around you and why you’re seeing things like this little news piece have so much input. Juan Marcanco, calling people racist is such petty BS, he does that pretty routine, last time it was on Steve Sundberg for a Facebook post. OMG!

  8. If Aurora decides not to take on a sister city right now, that’s fine. But Aurora is not in a position to cast stones. Hope we get some big changes in November and especially vote out Coffman who knows nothing about good team-building leadership.

    1. You seem to be coming out of the woodwork a lot more the past few weeks, Debra, but your comments still do not make any sense. The only thing that shows consistency is your overwhelming negative feelings and statements about our great, wonderful, and positive Mayor Coffman.

      It’s impossible to team-build with socialists and no one should even try as it’s their purpose to destroy capitalism and development.

  9. Please, council, focus on the urgent issues facing our community: police, youth violence, car theft, catalytic converter theft, homeless encampments, and housing availability. It diminishes public confidence when you waste time on issues of no consequence.

  10. The city’s commercial sector has also been boosted by the growth of the middle-class. The wages paid by industries to management and high-level technical employees provide a cash flow unlike that of most Mexican cities.
    The nightlife is lively, especially in the downtown, where some of the large, pre-revolutionary estate houses have been turned into nightclubs and dance halls, many featuring the best of Chihuahua’s live bands.
    Most U.S. franchise restaurants and fast-food establishments will be found in Chihuahua

  11.  In 2018, the city government announced plans to provide free Wifi to all 44 stations, as part of an initiative to make Internet access more equitable
    very ‘progressive’

  12.  The Federal Police and the Army have moved into the city to conduct anti-drug operations; it seems that their activity may have a positive effect; the indices of property crime and murder have fallen[38] since 2010, with the result that Chihuahua is safer now than in years past.

  13. Economically supporting a city that is run by a cartel or multiple cartels or that has a government that is affiliated with a cartel or multiple cartels is directly supporting the cartels with US money and businesses, which is detrimental to both the people of the US and the people of Mexico, because it directly funds violence in a country that is trying to evolve past it. There’s really nothing else that needs to be said here.

  14. When your only rebuttal to a statement you disagree with is that it’s racist, you have already lost the debate.

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