The specter of Pancho Villa drove UTEP professor to investigate sex trafficking along the border

EL PASO — To most people Pancho Villa is a legendary character from Mexican history, but to Ruth McDonald, a professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, Villa is a real man who hurt her family when he kidnapped her great aunt in the early 1900s from the family ranch in Chihuahua, Mexico. The great aunt was never heard from again but left an often-repeated story of male dominance and abuse that was told across the generations by the women in McDonald’s family. Given her family’s experience of violence and injustice against women, McDonald has chosen to focus her teaching and writing on how some Mexican women are lured into sex trafficking and how young people in general struggle to survive daily under adverse conditions

“Regrettably sex trafficking also occurs locally,” said McDonald “The United States not only faces a flood of international preys but also has its own home-based problem of interstate sex trafficking of minors.”

A native of El Paso, she is well aware that fear, suspicion and brutal violence, as well as sex trafficking now overrun once commerce-friendly Ciudad Juarez. She has devoted her career to educate students and the public about the plight of women who live on the Mexico side of the border and often uses real life examples in the classroom, like the recent sex trafficking court case in El Paso of Charles Marquez, who used ads in a newspaper and the Internet to recruit young women and children for sex trafficking purposes. His arrest was part of “Operation Cross Country,” a national effort targeting underage prostitution that netted the arrests of 104 alleged pimps in cities across the United States, according to law enforcement officials.

Ricardo Ainsle at a lecture at the University of Texas at El Paso October 22. (Patricia Acosta/

Author sees new hope for Ciudad Juarez, ground zero for violence in the drug war

EL PASO – Ciudad Juarez has been “ground zero” for the violence raging in Mexico over the past half decade according to Ricardo Ainsle, a psychologist-psychoanalyst and author of the book The Fight to Save Juarez: Life in the Heart of Mexico’s Drug War. “Close to 60,000 lives have been claimed by this brutal drug war in Juarez and the future of Mexico’s drug war has gone global,” Ainsle said at a lecture at the University of Texas at El Paso October 22. To combat the drug cartels, the Mexican government sent 12,500 federal army police to the city, which represented 20 percent of all troops nationwide, he said. Ainsle added that the number of drug war-related causalities in Ciudad Juarez during the same period of time was 60,000 and represented 20 percent of the national casualties. “Nearly 20 percent of the country’s drug-related executions have taken place in Juarez, a city that can be as unforgiving as the hardest place on earth,” said Ainsle, who is known for using documentary films to depict subjects of cultural interest.

The call for humane immigration reform resonates with my Hispanic heritage

SUNLAND PARK, NM – I attended the Solidarity Prayer Service held September 7 here at the border fence that separates Mexico from the U.S. at end of Anapra Road organized by local catholic churches. Marchers came to both sides of the fence. It was heart wrenching to see the small children standing at the fence. They told me they hoped to be able to come to El Paso one day. We should be building bridges not walls.