Mike Martinez receives the 2010 Hicks-Middagh Award for Outstanding Alumni in the field of Communication from Dr. Frank Pérez. (Brian Kanof/Courtesy of the UTEP Dept. of Communication)

UTEP Communication chair Dr. Frank G. Pérez begins the school year with new challenges

EL PASO— After five years as chair of UTEP’s Department of Communication, Dr. Frank G. Pérez decided to step down from the administrative position to invest more time in ongoing research projects and in the classroom. “I think it’s time I let someone else have a shot at running the department,” Pérez said. Dr. Stacey K. Sowards, associate professor of communication, will become the new chair as of August 31, 2013. Pérez, a self- described Chicano born and raised in El Paso, explains that he never really thought of pursuing a career in administration. His goal always has been to be a college professor and focus on research.

Danya Perez-Hernadez and Kristian Hernandez have been married for seven years and are the only married couple attending the institute together. (Molly J. Smith/NYT Institute)

A vacation for the Hernándezes

TUCSON, Az. – By the time most married couples hit the seven-year mark, they are usually in their mid 30s. They might be busy training their little descendants to go potty, or celebrating childlessness in expensive resorts in Hawaii. That’s not how the Hernándezes do it. No, sir.

Mexodus, Borderzine's especial project.

Borderzine’s especial project finalist for 2012 Online Journalism Award

Borderzine’s bilingual project, Mexodus, united students from across the U.S. – México border to report on the exile of thousands of middle class Mexican families, who fled seeking shelter from the violent drug war in cities such as Ciudad Juárez. The multimedia project was recently selected as finalist for the Online Journalism Awards by the Online News Association and the School of Communicationn at the University of Miami. Students and professors from the University of Texas at El Paso worked in partnership with the Tecnológico de Monterrey, Campus Chihuahua, the Tecnológico de Monterrey, Campus Ciudad de México, and the California State University at Northridge to develop the project. “The use of multimedia, the power of data and social media, and the ability of journalists to integrate them to inform, entertain, and emotionally connect with readers has set a high water mark,” said ONA Board member Josh Hatch in a press release about the quality of the works submitted this year. Mexodus will be competing in the Non-English Projects category against similar publications from Spain and Germany.

Nuestra Casa exhibition at the Univeersity of Texas at El Paso. (Danya Hernandez/Borderzine.com)

Tuberculosis cases are more plentiful in states along the U.S.-México border

EL PASO — For three years a woman roamed the border region with an infectious disease, not knowing her health kept deteriorating and that she was endangering those closest to her. This is the story of Rachel Orduño, a social work graduate student at the University of Texas at El Paso, who in 2003 began having a recurring cough. Doctors of both sides of the El Paso-Cd. Juarez border region diagnosed and treated her for everything from bronchitis, pneumonia, to the common cold. “I began with the most common symptoms. Continuous cough, weight loss due to lack of appetite, sweating at night and then I begin having trouble breathing,” Orduño said.

Molly Molloy (izq.), bibliotecaria y fundadora de Frontera List, y Lourdes Cárdenas (der.), editora de somosfrontera.com presentaron el libro de Sandra Rodríguez Nieto en la Universidad de Texas en El Paso. (Danya Hernandez/Borderzine.com)

La narcoguerra es una fábrica de criminales para toda una generación

EL PASO — En  Juárez, una ciudad considerada como una de las más peligrosas del mundo debido al narcotráfico, crímenes violentos y corrupción, hay quienes siguen buscando una explicación para esta epidemia de violencia. Una de estas personas es Sandra Rodríguez Nieto, periodista del Diario de Juárez, autora del libro titulado La fábrica del crimen. Su llegada a Juárez en el 2003 la preparó para cubrir la llamada guerra contra el narcotráfico desde el 2008. Rodríguez Nieto ha sido reconocida con el Premio Internacional de Periodismo en 2010 entregado por el periódico El Mundo, y el Premio Knight del Centro Internacional para Periodistas en Washington en 2011. Por medio de la historia y testimonios de Vicente León, un joven que a los 16 años asesinó a su padre, madre y hermana para después simular un secuestro y pedir rescate a su familia, Rodríguez Nieto explica cómo la impunidad y corrupción han invitado a que los jóvenes vean el crimen como su único boleto para escapar la pobreza.

Children at Rayito de Sol celebrate the daycare’s 12th anniversary. (Danya Hernandez/Borderzine.com)

A Rayito de Sol reaching bicultural children

Rayito de Sol – Radio story


DANYA HERNANDEZ (Reporter): Living in a border city, such as El Paso, Texas, can make many realize the benefits of cultivating both cultures. Some residents consider themselves not American enough to call themselves Americans and not Mexican enough to call themselves Mexicans. But they want their children to be able to embrace biculturalism and bilingualism, so they search for places where their children can be exposed to it at a young age. [Natural Sounds: Ambience music]

Marianne DiPasqualie, a mother of 3, expressed the importance of having her children immersed in the different cultures surrounding them. She said that being an Anglo family she wants her kids to be acceptant of other cultures and languages.

Investigative reporters Rocío Idalia Gallegos Rodríguez and Sandra Rodríguez Nieto receive the 2011 Knight International Journalism Award on Tuesday for their courageous work covering the violent crimes that have overtaken the city of Juarez, Mexico. (Hope Rurik/SHFWire)

Examples of courageous journalism are not so far from home

WASHINGTON – I strongly believe in the common phrase “everything happens for a reason,” and entering the fall internship at the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire fits the expression perfectly. Not only did I arrive here during Hispanic Heritage Month, making the transition from El Paso to Washington a little easier, but I also got the opportunity to witness two brave female reporters from El Diario de Juarez receive the Knight International Journalism Award from the International Center for Journalists. Rocío Idalia Gallegos Rodríguez and Sandra Rodríguez Nieto earned master’s degrees in journalism at the University of Texas at El Paso, my hometown university where I am majoring in multimedia journalism. We also happen to share a mentor, Zita Arocha, senior lecturer and director of the university’s online magazine, Borderzine.com. Gallegos and Nieto’s passion for journalism has led them to risk their lives every day, living and reporting in Juarez, a city ruled by corruption and impunity.

Father Pedro Pantoja Arreola gives a presentation at the Institute for Policy Studies on Tuesday to explain what his organization, Fronteras con Justicia, does to help migrants who have been terrorized by organized crime. (Danya P Hernandez/SHFWire)

Mexican priest receives human rights award for work with migrants

WASHINGTON – The selflessness and courage needed to lend a hand to victims of crime is not a common asset, especially when you live in a place embedded in corruption. That’s what Belen, Posada del Migrante (Bethlehem, Migrant’s Shelter) in Saltillo, Mexico, exhibits when it protects Central-American migrants who fall victim to organized crime. Saltillo is near Monterrey. Father Pedro Pantoja Arreola, director of the shelter, was recognized for his service Wednesday at the 35th Annual Letelier-Moffitt Memorial sponsored by the Institute for Policy Studies. He was presented with the international Human Rights Award, which has been given to only one other Mexican.

The Drug Enforcement Administration provided a map of the current drug cartel territory at a House hearing Tuesday. The hearing focused on increasing violence and the evolution of organized crime. (Danya P Hernandez/SHFWire)

U.S. needs to change tactics to fight terrorism in Mexico, House members say

WASHINGTON – Drug cartels in Mexico have evolved, and U.S. assistance has not kept up, members of a House subcommittee said at a hearing Tuesday. Attempts by the U.S. to aid Mexico’s war against drug cartels and secure the border have been a topic of debate since the introduction of the Merida Initiative in 2007. By the end of 2011 the initiative will have provided Mexico $900 million worth of equipment and training. The House Foreign Affairs Committee and House Homeland Security Committee held a joint hearing to discuss concerns and the progress of the initiative, which has been modified to accommodate evolving terrorism in Mexico. The Merida Initiative began as a straightforward foreign assistance program to provide specific equipment and training.

Ambassador of Mexico Arturo Sarukhan, left, and Carlos Chavira, president of the new initiative “Juarez Competitiva” introduce the project in Washington on Monday. They hope to unite the border region against drug wars and improve the economy.(Danya Hernandez/SHFWire)

Border leaders unveil plan to restore reputation of Ciudad Juarez

WASHINGTON – The violence and crime that have stained the name of the U.S.-Mexico border region is uniting its residents, who want to regain a clean status. The innumerable reports of murder, kidnappings and extortions brought by drug trafficking to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, are the main factor contributing to the exodus of about 230,000 middle class families and more than 10,000 businesses since 2006. Residents of the region created a new initiative called “Juárez Competitiva” to advertize the city’s assets and cultural value to create economic growth. Officials at the Embassy of Mexico announced the project’s launch at a news conference Monday. “It’s an effort to understand that not only by confronting organized crime will you be able to push back.