César Chavez Day – Image Gallery

EL PASO − Every year on Cesar Chavez Day, the Centro de los Trabajadores Agrícolas Fronterizos holds a march in downtown El Paso to honor the man who started the movement for justice and dignity of farmworkers, La Causa. This year’s rally was the typical gathering of social activists, community leaders, students, farmworkers and artists. But what set this year’s rally apart from the rest was this year it was also a victory lap. In January, the Faculty Senate at the University of Texas at El Paso voted to remove Cesar Chavez Day as an official, observed school holiday. Through the leadership of student organizations and the community, the holiday was reinstated when the pressure forced the Senate to re-assess their decision.

Climbing Capitol Hill stairs to claim my place in America

WASHINGTON – It would be easy to say that my internship this fall with the Scripps Howard Foundation made my writing more interesting and attention grabbing. It would also be easy to show how much more productive I’ve become since taking residence in the Hampton house in D.C. I’d feel like I’m cheating if I mentioned that Jody Beck’s watchful eyes made deadline a tangible reality rather than an illusive fear. It would be unfair. Washington has changed me, and to simply mention the final products of the work I produced during 12 weeks would be a disservice to the bouquet of lessons picked up along the way. It would be describing a destination without mention of the journey.

A Dream worth 30 days of hunger

WASHINGTON – Lucina Martinez usually stands a little over 5 feet, but fasting for 30 days had her in a wheelchair as she rushed from office to office through the Senate office buildings this week. Martinez hoped her hunger strike would draw attention to the need of illegal immigrant youths like herself for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2010. Martinez broke the fast Thursday after the Senate version of the bill was tabled. The Senate may take up the House version of the bill next week. “We saw it as a victory to have more time to pressure the senators, to speak to them about our stories and why they should support the dream act,” Martinez said.

Protesters demand the changes Obama promised

EL PASO, Texas — As President Barack Obama addressed the troops in Ft. Bliss Tuesday morning, protest groups gathered here to voice disappointment with the lack of change they say was promised by candidate Obama. “I’m out here because we were promised immigration reform,” said Delia Barra, a member of Red Fronteriza, the organization that headed the protest. Some 100 protesters lined up on Airway Boulevard between Montana and Boeing, just across from the airport Marriott at 11 a.m. just as heat waves began to rise from the sidewalk.  As the Sun City blazed down on their heads, bottled water was distributed down the long line of protest posters and US flags. “I joined for the reason that I don’t want families to be separated [due to deportation].

El Paso has a front row seat on the unending killing in Juarez

EL PASO, Texas — About a century ago, El Pasoans lined themselves up near the border for a good view of the revolutionary war raging just across the river as gunshots and war cries echoed from the brush and dirty water. A hundred yeas later, El Paso once more holds a ringside seat to the bloodshed of Mexican souls. Last week, shots fired from Mexico hit the windows of El Paso’s City Hall. Although no one can be sure how or when the bulk of the violence will die down, many students at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) have their opinions. “A lot of people have told me that maybe if they legalize marijuana in Juárez it would be better because then the drug lords would loose some of their power,” said Lindsy Gutierrez, a music major.  She sat in the shade outside the Fox Fine Arts building of UTEP reading a book on poetry.

Bad City and Good City — The Border Twins are Conjoined at the Hip

EL PASO, Texas — Many consider them sister cities.  With a combined population of more than 2 million persons, El Paso and Ciudad Juárez form one of the largest international metropolitan areas in the world. El Paso is the 6th largest city in Texas while Ciudad Juárez has experienced a higher population growth rate than the country as a whole. Together they interact and even share citizens. Recently though, most of what is heard about this urban area has to do with the Mexican drug cartels. Still, while Ciudad Juárez is ranked as one of the most dangerous places in the world, El Paso remains one of the safest cities in the United States.  In my curiosity to find how it is that this city is viewed, I talked to five students living here but originating from different cities, states, and countries to see what they think of the Sun City.

Hundreds Mourn Pregnant Mother and Husband Murdered in Juárez

EL PASO, Texas — More than 800 persons attended funeral services for the U.S. consular employee and her husband gunned down March 14 in Ciudad Juárez, México. Family, friends, and co-workers paid their last respects to Lesley Enriquez, 35, and Arthur Redelfs, 34, a detention officer in the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department, to the solemn lament of a trumpet playing Taps on a windy afternoon at Memorial Pines Cemetery in Sunland Park on March 20th. The couple was murdered after a car chase through Juárez after leaving a children’s birthday party with their baby daughter. “When they were brutally murdered, seven-month-old Rebecca was left in the back seat orphaned but thankfully unharmed. Also tragically, Lesley was pregnant at the time and we just now found out that baby Rebecca will never get to know her little brother,” said Michael Redelfs, Arthur’s uncle.

Mercado Mayapán Celebrates Chicano Power and Pride

EL PASO, Texas — The smell of tacos al pastor greeted visitors of the Mercado Mayapán like the warmth of a Mexican grandmother’s bosom.  Chicanos gathered here surrounded by the beat of indigenous drums and warm colors for Chicano Power: Legacy of the Chicano movement in El Paso on a Saturday afternoon. Throughout the month of February, Museo Mayachén and La Mujer Obrera presented to the El Paso community different exhibits all having to do with the struggles of the Chicanos and Chicanas during the 60’s and 70’s.  Cultural dances, musical performances, and informatory forums were hosted at the Mercado Mayapán every Saturday in an effort to bring people to the recently opened museum dedicated to the Chicano movement in El Paso. The forum on February 13th was organized by Salvador Avila who participated as a member of the Brown Berets during the era of the Chicano movement. “Hoy se hace historia en la comunidad de El Paso,” Ávila said.

Cleaning ASARCO’s Pollution Legacy Raises Concerns Among Environmental Advocates

EL PASO— Students and citizens of this border city met Thursday at the University of Texas at El Paso to find ways to clean up and reclaim the land severely polluted by the century-old ASARCO copper-smelter. “There’s over 75 ft. of lead laden slag right on this site and about 230 million cubic ft. of water in a plume, and so we’ve got to clean that stuff up and I think that’s the major concern most people have here,” said Senator Eliot Shapleigh. The main speakers at the UTEP Student Government Association event included Senator Shapleigh and Custodial Trustee Robert Puga.

Border Stories: Photography as an Instrument for Education

EL PASO — The brisk pace of life carved into the faces in Bruce Berman’s photographs carries stories of the humor, sadness and diversity that exist along the U.S.-Mexico border. The gallery at the University of Texas at El Paso’s Centennial Museum rang with excitement as the crowd that gathered for the event drew from Berman’s energy as he entered the room. “What am I thinking? I’m too old for this,” said Berman.  But his eyes told otherwise as he sat in the middle of the room, surrounded by the framed moments he had captured through the lens of his camera.  Each photograph seemed to tell a different story from the same book. “These photos are not at all about me,” Berman said, “They are absolutely about the people in the stories.” His exhibition was a collection of pictures taken along the El Paso-Juarez border.