Mirel Argueta, a Juarez native and a professor at Tecnológico de Monterrey en Juárez, and Reinaldo Sánchez, Colombian and recent PhD graduate. (Courtesy of Mirel Argueta)

Love knows no boundaries for couples divided by the U.S.-Mexico border

EL PASO – Although El Paso and Juárez are sister cities, they are divided by differences and obstacles that present real-life challenges to unmarried couples whose relationships straddle the border. Three couples, all in their 20s, discuss their transnational relationships, explaining how they wish they could live in the same city with their partners and even though they speak the same language they still clash over differences in lifestyle. However, these committed relationships seem to be strong. Gina Nuñez-Mchiri, associate professor of sociology at UTEP, said, “I would say that love knows no boundaries, but boundaries are real, right? But it’s love that makes you resilient and hopeful, and people find ways.”

The testimony of these three couples lovingly expresses the adage “where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Mirel & Reinaldo

“When I met him, I was like, ‘Oh my God.

DEA Special Agent in Charge Joseph Arabit (far right) confirm that violence in Juárez was down about 74 percent from its peak in 2010. (Anoushka Valodya/Borderzine.com)

Juárez violence down 74 percent from 2010 peak

EL PASO – The word “partnership” was frequently used at the round table discussion of “Security Along the U.S.-Mexico Border” to explain what it takes to counter terrorism. This event was one of the many sessions of the 9th annual International Association For Intelligence Education (IAFIE) conference at the University of Texas at El Paso Wednesday. Five government officials of various agencies, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) spoke in the panel. UTEP’s Vice-Provost Michael Smith began the session as the moderator. “This is a topic of keen interest obviously in El Paso and along the border region,” Smith said.

Children are the main victims of family separation. (Anoushka Valodya/Borderzine.com)

The U.S.-Mexico border splits families, but loved ones strive to stay connected

EL PASO – With a Border Patrol helicopter hovering close above him, Honduran native Pedro Guzman, who was in his mid-thirties, had to choose between running away or surrendering. After seeing his fellow emigrants detained, Guzman decided to give up, but he still didn’t lose hope. He had spent three days and two nights, without food and water, crossing from Matamoros, Mexico to reach Brownsville, Texas in 1999. “I was just eating air, but I was always positive, telling myself that I was going to make it,” Guzman said. He paid $4,000 to a coyote, but was later abandoned by the smuggler to find his way to the U.S. along with a couple dozen men.

Nearly 8,000 5th and 7th graders visitUTEP in a field trip called Pick Your Dream. (Anoushka Valodya/Borderzine.com)

El Paso must enhance prosperity to retain its best college graduates

EL PASO – City and county leaders met with higher education experts at The University of Texas at El Paso recently to figure out how to stem the brain drain they say is robbing the border region of its future leaders. “We continue to see too many UTEP graduates taking jobs in other cities,” President Diana Natalicio said. “It’s not because they want to go, but because they don’t have opportunities here. So we’re not going to postpone this conversation any longer.”

During the meeting, called The Shared Plan For Regional Opportunity, experts said that 70 percent of UTEP’s graduates leave El Paso. This meeting, part of UTEP’s participation in a national initiative called Opportunity Nation, that seeks to “develop strategies to revitalize the American Dream, foster social mobility and stimulate new economic opportunities.”

The meeting was Part One of UTEP’s Opportunity Days.

Zino Souikni carving meat for gyros at his restaurant in the West side of El Paso. (Anoushka Valodya/Borderzine.com)

Local Greek restaurateur mourns the economic plight of his home country

EL PASO – Local restaurant owner Zino Souikni is proud to be Greek but he’s glad he doesn’t live in his home country, which is still reeling from a nearly fatal debt crisis and years of recession. “It’s too expensive,” he said. Souikni, 45, owns Zino’s Greek and Mediterranean Cuisine restaurant in West El Paso. He says that he talks to his family every now and then to see how they’re doing economically and spiritually. “They’re very sad and upset with what’s going on.

Bashar Abu and his family attend The Islamic Center of El Paso to pray for his siblings in Syria. (Anoushka Valodya/Borderzine.com)

The killing of ordinary people in the streets of Syrian cities hits home in El Paso

EL PASO – Bashar Abu doesn’t know if his six siblings are still alive in the Syrian city of Homs, which has been ravaged for about a week by rocket bombings, tank shells, sniper bullets and grenades. Abu, 50, the former engineering design manager for the City of El Paso, said that he feels helpless because it has been days since he heard from them. His somber face and sharp eyes reveal that he has a lot of worry on his mind. “My wife is walking around with red eyes from constantly crying since her mother is in Homs. I check the online news like every five minutes, looking for any updates. We just want to know what’s going on,” he said.