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.

Laurent Gilbert, left, David Lubell, Michael Byun, Patice O’Neill and Vanessa Cárdenas discuss issues of immigrant integration into communities on Tuesday. They advocate against inequality and hate crimes.(Danya Hernandez/SHFWire)

Groups help immigrants, local residents learn to coexist

WASHINGTON – With about 1.3 million immigrants coming into the United States each year, it is not easy for some people to cope with the changes that occur in their communities. Several organizations around the country are lending a hand to communities with high numbers of immigrants, advocating for tolerance and interaction to end hate crimes. The Center for American Progress hosted a presentation Tuesday about an initiative called “Stronger Together: Community Integration of Newcomers.”

The initiative seeks to “conquer fears and grow stronger by embracing differences.”

Several experts on immigration said it is important to bring members of the community together so that they can get to know each other and understand each other’s cultures. “It’s in everybody’s interest to have community cohesion and build stronger communities,” David Lubell, executive director of Welcoming America, said. Lubell said he has experienced the change that community integration brings.

President Barack Obama speaks at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s Award Gala on Wednesday. He focused on issues important to the Hispanic community, such as job creation and immigration. (Danya P Hernandez/SHFWire)

Obama tells Hispanic audience he will fight for their issues

WASHINGTON – Hundreds of spectators cheered and applauded as President Barack Obama promised to work to pass the Dream Act, which would allow some young immigrants to become U.S. citizens. “I will do everything in my power to make the Dream Act a reality,” he said. Obama and first lady Michelle Obama attended the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s 34th Annual Awards Gala on Wednesday to kick off his administration’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebration. “I don’t have to tell you these are tough times. You know how hard this recession has hit families, especially Latino families,” Obama said.

Comedian Paul Rodriguez fills the room with laughter at the 2011 Reyes of Comedy show at the Warner Theatre in Washington Tuesday. Proceeds from the show contribute to the education of Latino youth. (Danya P Hernandez/SHFWire)

Hispanic Caucus hits a funny note to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month

WASHINGTON – There is no doubt that laughter transcends language, and what could be better than using these laughs to bring hope to young people? “What makes us who we are is not that we talk about it, it’s the mixture of the black and the Latino. We come in every color, and no other culture can say that. We are black, as black as Sammy Sosa, and as white as ‘Christina Agriculture.’ We are a shade in between, we are café latte,” comedian Paul Rodriguez said. Rodriguez recruited three other comedians to participate the 11th annual Reyes of Comedy show Tuesday at the Warner Theatre as part of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s Hispanic Heritage Month events.

El Paso’s Holocaust Museum celebrates the life of a child who survived the Nazi concentration camps

EL PASO — Seventy years ago the life of a 12-year-old Jewish kid from Lithuania completely changed when he was forced to fight for his survival in Nazi concentration camps and finally battled his way through the final Death March as the war ended. Today that boy is a successful businessman living in the border region of El Paso, TX, and he continues drawing strength to share his inspiring story of survival and forgiveness with the community who gathered along with family and friends to commemorate his 82nd birthday. On August 28, 2011 the Holocaust Museum here presented Kaplan’s memoir, I Forgive Them, which he wrote with the help of David Smith-Soto, a journalism professor at The University of Texas at El Paso. In it Kaplan tells the story of his four years of struggle during World War II. At the event Kaplan and Smith-Soto were interviewed by Darren Hunt, host of ABC-7 Xtra, about the book’s meaning to them.

Media Report – August 6, 2011


To prepare and place Latino writers at major television networks, the National Latino Media Council has opened the submission period for “The NLMC Television Writers Program.”

Participants’ scripts will be read by network executives to pick the most promising. Those writers selected will be interviewed and mentored by the executives. Those interested must be able to write at least one half-hour comedy or one-hour dramatic TV script in English within a five week period. The program, to be conducted in Burbank, Calif., runs this year from Oct. 8 to Nov.

Artist Rigoberto A. Gonzalez paints Mexico drug violence baroque-style

El Paso — Dark colors and shadows transform the canvas into excruciatingly vivid scenes – a severed head laying on the ground, soldiers restraining an angry man in front of a crowd – of the bloody drug war raging along the U.S.-Mexico border, illustrating every disturbing emotion on the faces of the subjects while employing the classic beauty of 17th century Baroque-style paintings. Rigoberto A. Gonzalez (http://rigobertogonzalezalonso.com/home) 37, the artist of these deeply disturbing and meticulously painted images, is bringing his exhibition, titled Baroque on the Border/Barocco en la Frontera, to The University of Texas at El Paso at the Stanlee & Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Art of from May 26 to September 24, 2011. He was born in Reynosa, in the border state of Tamaulipas, Mexico and moved with his family to the border city of San Juan, TX when he was 9 years old. As a child, his mother and older brother inspired him to become an artist. This inspiration led him to obtain a bachelor’s degree in art from The University of Texas-Pan American in 1999 and a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting from the New York Academy of Art in 2004.

Media Report – April 1, 2011


CNN en Español looks to appeal the growing U.S. Latino community by redesigning its news show lineup in April. Changes include a live three-hour morning program “Café CNN,” a money-management show called “CNN Dinero,” and “Conclusiones” a late-night wrap-up. “CNN Investiga,” which resembles CBS’s “60 Minutes”, is set for Sunday evenings. NEW APPROACH

Mark López, who heads Google’s Hispanic unit, says he’s planning a different approach to the U.S. Hispanic market, placing greater emphasis on cultural affinity. The strategy already is being employed by networks such as Univisión and Telemundo.

Media Report – February 11, 2011


Response by the Latino media to President Obama’s Jan. 25 State of the Union speech was, for the most part, a positive one, with headlines such as “Obama pide esfuerzo bipartidista para ganar el futuro,” found in Univisión.com

Univisión and Galavisión offered voice-over translation of the live speech. As did other print and broadcast media, San Antonio’s weekly La Prensa highlighted a number of issues of greatest concern to the Spanish-speaking community. It stressed, “Immigration reform and the DREAM Act are still priorities of  President Barack Obama, according to statements from the White House,” and continued, “This is the third time that the President defends the need for immigration reform in a speech before Congress.”

With education being at the top of the list as the means to “win the future,” Obama took the opportunity to mention the “hundreds of thousands of students excelling in our schools who are not American citizens.”

He urged Congress to work in harmony in addressing once and for all the issues of illegal immigration and to “stop expelling talented and responsible young people who could be staffing our research labs or starting a new business, further enriching this nation.”

In a column syndicated by Hispanic Link News Service, José de la Isla, author of The Rise of Hispanic Political Power, saw the President’s comments as “an interesting juxtaposition of student situations.”

“Had the DREAM Act passed, the ‘best and brightest” U.S. resident students it covered already would have been home” de la Isla said. In Obama’s plan for innovation, research for cleaner energy technologies plays a big role to increase job opportunities and compete with other nations.

Media Report – January 18, 2011


Thirty students from the University of Arizona and New York University collaborated on a documentary on challenges faced by immigrants and communities along the U.S.-Mexico border. Their “Beyond the Border Project” was developed by Dr. Celeste González de Bustamante of UA’s School of Journalism and NYU’s Yvonne Latty of Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. To view the project, visit http://pavementpieces.com/tag/border/


Historic international Mexican radio station IMER, shut down by financial troubles in 2004, is back. It debuted in 1969 and joined the Instituto Mexicano de la Radio in 1983. Now it varies coverage in Spanish, English, French and indigenous languages.

El Día de los Muertos es para que los vivos recuerden

EL PASO, Texas — Mientras el olor de incienso llenaba el aire, familiares de los difuntos adornaban altares en su honor con papel picado, flor de cempazuchitl, veladoras y su comida favorita. El Día de los Muertos no pasó desapercibido para cientos de personas de El Paso, quienes entre bailables, antojitos, poesía, música y artesanías, aprovecharon la oportunidad para aprender más detalles de esta antigua tradición en distintos eventos realizados por  El Mercado Mayapán y El Rincón Bohemio. “En la cultura latina creemos que el espíritu de esa persona que se fue está a nuestro alrededor y esta es una manera de celebrar su vida y nuestra vida”, dijo María Miranda Maloney coordinadora de Rincón Bohemio. “Es poder pensar en ellos, compartir sus historias, su comida favorita, se trata de el ciclo de la vida y aunque es triste este es su día”. Como es costumbre en México, el  Día de los Muertos se celebra el 1 y 2 de Noviembre empezando el primer día con la celebración para los niños difuntos o “Día de los Angelitos” y se conmemora a los adultos el segundo día.

Media Report – November 15, 2010


The National Association of Hispanic Journalists announced Nov.9 winners of its video contest “Tell Us Your Story.” Jackie Díaz of Silver Spring, Md., won in the professional category, and Paula Machado of Central Florida University won in the student category. In the announcement Ada Alvarez wrote, “As journalists, we tell stories every day. We represent those who wouldn’t have a voice if no one told their story. This time, 15 people told theirs.”

NAHJ is increasing its efforts to return to financial stability. Its 2010 convention did not produce enough revenue.

Hundreds mourn slain students at UTEP memorial

El PASO, Texas — Sobbing students and family members held each other as the sound of Amazing Grace filled the open air of the campus plaza. Every hand gripped a tissue ready to dab the tears flowing from behind dark sunglasses. The College of Business Administration at the University of Texas at El Paso, hosted a memorial on November 8, for students Eder A. Diaz, 23, and Manuel A. Acosta, 22, who were shot to death in Cd. Juarez, Mexico on November 2. “Manny and Eder came to this University to study at our College of Business Administration,” said Dr. Robert Nachtmann, dean of the COBA.

Exhibición de fotos capta la violencia de vivir en Ciudad Juárez

EL PASO, Texas — Fotógrafos fronterizos de El Diario de Juárez capturan la batalla de vivir día a día entre caos y temor en la ciudad más violenta de la frontera. Ahora todos podemos ser testigos de ese ambiente de terror. El 30 de Septiembre se inauguró la exhibición fotográfica Las Otras Batallas, presentada por fotógrafos de El Diario en el Centennial Museum de la Universidad de Texas en El Paso (UTEP). “Esta exhibición es un ejemplo de lo que se puede hacer si las dos ciudades unen esfuerzos. Tomó coordinación e interés binacional y con la participación de personas de los dos lados todo salió muy bien”, dijo la Dr. Moira Murphy-Aguilar, profesora de UTEP y del Centro de Estudios Inter-Americanos y Fronterizos.

Sanctuary offers a taste of freedom to abandoned chimps

EL PASO, Texas — The creatures, large as human beings, confined inside steel and concrete rattle the bars of their cells like tornados trapped in a cage. That storm in the midst of the blazing desert comes from two 150-pound chimpanzees that still bear the scars of neglect, abuse, and self-inflicted injuries they suffered during their time as subjects in medical experimentation. “I would like people to be aware of how chimps are used in laboratories in this country, regardless of how they feel about research I think we owe them something for what we have done to them,” said Jen Feuerstein the sanctuary director for Save the Chimps in the New Mexico area. Close to the border city of El Paso, Texas and yet unknown to most residents, the Save the Chimps sanctuary in Alamogordo, N.M. serves as the world’s largest rehabilitation center for these animals. “They lived like humans and interacted with humans only, but once they are too big to be controlled and used, they are suddenly dropped in a cage,” said Feuerstein.