Tijuana: Reflections on the Border

Tijuana side.

The view from the border: Tijuana side.

“TJ? Really?” was the response from most people last week when they learned I was heading down south of San Diego for a research trip.

They were right to be cautious. I live in Mexico City — one of the biggest, baddest towns around — but still gave Tijuana a second thought. The world’s most famous border city has been getting some bad press of late due to the drug-related violence playing out on its streets.

But what struck me more during my brief trip was the border itself and how it is littered with evidence of its own casualties and conflicts, past and present. The wall is at the center of the current national debate on immigration, and I wanted to see it for myself.

Read on – this post was written for La Plaza.

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North of the border

MexicoReporter.com is heading north of the border for two weeks on a research and training trip.

We’ll be in Los Angeles for some of the time, and then San Diego and La Frontera for the rest.

I’m hoping to file for you FROM the border, where we’ll be heading down to hook up with the Los Angeles Time’s border reporter, Richard Marosi and then Tijuana to El Colegio de la Frontera Norte.

We’re also hoping to make the acquaintance of BorderReporter.com in the flesh.

Watch this space.

John McCain’s great timing

John McCain, the presumptive U.S Republican presidential candidate, couldn’t have timed his trip to Latin America better. Not only does he fly into Colombia a day before 6-year hostage of the FARC Ingrid Betancourt is liberated, he then rides into Mexico City this morning days after the Merida Initiative gets approved in El Norte.

Some of that great timing is pure coincidence – some not. Continue reading

Mexico welcomes Merida, without human rights restrictions

President Calderon on Friday welcomed the U.S. Congress’ approval of the Merida Initiative a day earlier, an aid injection from the United States which is aimed at helping Mexico in its fight against  powerful drug cartels.

The bill has dropped a controversial requirement that Mexico meet certain human rights standards in order to receive the aid. Mexicans had objected to the human rights provision, saying that it amounted to outside meddling by the United States in Mexican affairs. But dropping the human rights requirements seems certain to anger numerous opposition groups to the aid package – see this La Plaza post on the issue. Continue reading

Calderon should accept Merida’s human right conditions?

In anticipation of the scheduled debate around the controversial Merida Initiative aid package in the US Senate this week, the Financial Times newspaper from the UK urges President Felipe Calderon to accept the human rights conditions attached to the US$400 billion injection aimed at helping Mexico fights its drugs barons. But should he? Continue reading

Video: Illegal Border Crossing for tourists

[blip.tv ?posts_id=935010&dest=-1]

This video was created to go with this Los Angeles Times report.

Illegal border crossing – for tourists.

La Caminata Nocturna, HidalgoVideo Coming Soon

Panting for breath, I waded through cow-pat flavoured mud, struggling to keep myself from slipping in the dark. “Vamanos, vamanos, vamanos!” urged my coyote, the Spanish name for people who smuggle migrants across the border into the United States.

The sound of La Migra’s sirens – also known as United States Border Patrol – sounded out behind me. Hands shaking, I stopped to catch my breath and watched the faces of the other migrants crouched in the dark, breathing heavily.

“We know you’re there,” boomed a crackling voice in English, tinged with a Mexican accent, over the loudspeaker. Gun shots rang out.

“What you’re doing is illegal. We have food and water. We can help you get back home.”

Only, no one wanted to go back home. Everyone was actually having a rather a good time. That’s because this wasn’t for real. We were pretend migrants, trying to cross an artificial border pursued by a fake Border Patrol deep in the Mexican state of Hidalgo for the bargain price of 100 pesos (US$10) rather than the thousands that Mexicans and Central American migrants crossing into the U.S illegally pay their smugglers. Continue reading