by René Kladzyk, El Paso Matters
Daniella Perez, a 22-year-old waitress and UTEP student, lost her job when restaurants closed in mid-March as COVID-19 began spreading through El Paso. “Honestly I’m still kind of in shock. I can’t believe this whole thing. I have been trying to look for more income, but I’m scared because I live with my Mom,” Perez said. This first wave of COVID-19 job losses led more than 50,000 people in the El Paso area to file unemployment claims between March 1 and May 1, according to data from Workforce Solutions Borderplex.
As college students our main focus is usually preparing for exams, completing assignments, and trying our hardest to excel in our classes. We tend not to think too much about saving money because it’s often pretty scarce and we worry about having enough of it to pay current bills, never mind our impending student loans. Saving money takes a backseat to the other pressing financial responsibilities in our lives. For the past three years, I have been working as an assistant at a local insurance and wealth management company. The time I have spent there, focusing on other individuals’ finances, has caused me to take a hard look at my financial future.
La asociación Love JRZ comenzó hace tres años combatiendo la publicidad que los medios le daban a Ciudad Juárez como “La Ciudad Más Peligrosa Del Mundo”, por medio de eventos y campañas publicitarias para unificar a los Juarences y cambiar la imagen de la ciudad. Entre estos proyectos, trajeron conciertos anuales en el centro, crearon campañas donde involucraban la participación ciudadana entre otros. A pesar de la inseguridad, Luis Fernando Rodríguez, el presidente de Love JRZ y socio fundador de la empresa de publicidad Big Media, creó la asociación civil Love JRZ en el 2015. A si mismo, Big Media fueron los proveedores de recursos económicos para impulsar esta asociación.. “Originalmente la idea era hacer como una bandera algo que fuera bonito, que fuera diferente, no nomas que dijera ¡Arriba Juárez!.
The revitalization of downtown El Paso is not confined to just the expansion of businesses and new housing complexes; the unique people who inhabit the area are aiding in the effort as well. The LGBT community in particular is breathing new life into the area and changing the culture just by being who they are. This an impact long in the making. Long before the recent wave of downtown revitalization efforts, El Paso’s LGBT community forged from shuttered commercial space Pride Square, a cluster of bars at Stanton Street and Franklin Avenue that is now a staple Downtown experience for area residents. Spearheaded by LGBT advocates and the people of Sun City Pride and fueled by everyday customers, this area represents a lively and unique part of El Paso’s culture.
EL PASO — El Paso’s first barrio may soon be wiped out by its own city officials. Duranguito, or Union Plaza to its residents, has been selected by city council to be the new home for the proposed multipurpose arena. The history of Duranguito is constantly ignored, according to Paso del Sur activist Cynthia Renteria. “The area has a lot of historical significance and it’s part of a past that isn’t often recognized in the narrative of El Paso,” she also reflects and explains that the story of the city is only vaguely explained up until 1881. “So it’s like the Spanish arrived here.
Buildings that were once home to broken windows and moldy ceilings now house a culture of free spirits with modern options. The Martin Building is just one of the new choices for downtown living.
With its iconic “ElectriCity” rooftop sign, tenants enjoy both a mixture of classic and modern urban design. The building is now a part of downtown’s growing living spaces where rents start at $695, and are stylish as described by tenant Luis Piña.
“The building was completely vacant before,” Piña said. “It was not as appealing and now simply the location is everything. They are more modern and chic and I feel they are targeted toward young professionals who have careers and enjoy modern downtown living.”
Buildings are not the only thing undergoing change in downtown.
Living near construction can take a toll on one’s quality of life. Residents of downtown El Paso have experienced this first hand- from the laying down of StreetCar Project tracks to the Bassett Tower renovation, getting outdoors in the few quiet places they can has been a refuge from the stress of the city. Elisa Dobler, a Therapist and Outreach Coordinator at the El Paso Child Guidance Center, knows this well. “Anytime there is an increase in loud, disruptive noise, it may cause stress in those who experience it daily,” Dobler said. “The [World Health Organization] has written on the ‘Burden of Disease from Environmental Noise’ and the detrimental health effects.”
One escape residents have found has been through Downtown El Paso Fitness, also known as DTEPFIT.
Residents in Sunset Heights take pride of their neighborhood. They work together, live together and even fight together. Every so often, the Sunset Heights Neighborhood Improvement Association meets underneath the Hal Marcus Art Gallery to discuss vital issues that will affect their area.
On their recent July 12th meeting discussing the new district eight city council representative, resident and blogger, Sito Negron, said that he wanted someone who would preserve Sunset Heights with its historic charm. “The neighborhood has a certain feel and look to it, if they want to remodel they have to go thru a process because of the historical look and character it has to it,” he said.
While road closure signs and bright orange cones have been a headache for downtown El Paso commuters, some business owners see them as a sign of improvement. Despite slow business due to construction, the downtown revitalization effort has maintained its popularity among proprietors. “Everything they’re building, the stadium, the San Jacinto Plaza, the lofts, it all makes downtown more safe,” Healthy Bite owner, Patricia Terrazas De Herrera said. The recent series of constructions in the area has provided hope for Healthy Bite, a self described “colorful daytime cafe with … health-conscious eats & smoothies.” Ft
Healthy Bite hopes that all the change will provide an incentive for more people to visit the area. Currently their customer base are mostly employees who work in the area.
Downtown El Paso is an area filled with people and businesses that flourish with unique culture and history. One of those businesses is Star Western Wear with its shelves stacked with blue jeans and rows of cowboy hats that line the wall of the massive Downtown store. A store rooted in West-loving customers knows a successful future is embedded in change. Edie Zuvanich, marketing director at Star Western Wear’s downtown location, has seen this shift occur firsthand. “A lot of El Pasoans really didn’t know very much about Downtown and they had a specific mindset about Downtown.
Many murals in El Paso reflect what it’s like to live in a border city and the struggles and pride that come from it. Pops of color have slowly been introduced into Downtown El Paso as artists have made this concrete jungle their canvas. “Art to me is an expression of who you are in the inside. To me, art started as a way to express myself and to build upon the experiences I’ve had through my life,” Leslie Grey said. Grey is an artist known for makeup and her contributions to local street art.
Galleries and museums are embracing local artists like never before, giving them more exposure as the El Paso creative community begins to prosper, artists say. “Before I moved to Los Angeles, the only places I would see local art was like at bars,” said Matthew Martinez, better known by his alias JAM! “That was my first experience with seeing really talented artists in a bar setting. Seeing that, I really wanted to give people an opportunity to have something in a traditional, real, contemporary gallery because I feel like there’s a lacking for that,” Martinez said. Martinez opened his gallery and store, Dream Chasers Club, 200 S. Santa Fe St., in 2015 after living in California and on the East Coast.
Debido al Proyecto Tranvía – Streetcar Project – varios negocios han sido afectados de diferentes formas. Sin embargo, las expectativas con respecto al futuro del proyecto se siguen manteniendo positivas. Uno de los negocios afectados fue “Briar Patch”, un bar localizado sobre N. Stanton St. “La clientela no llega, no tienen lugar para estacionarse, y pues el dinero y las propinas han bajado,” dijo Francisco Ahumada, mesero en el bar. “Cuando está cerrada la calle, pues, la gente piensa que también estamos cerrados nosotros,” explicó Ahumada.
CD. JUAREZ– People gather in the electronics section of Walmart two weeks before Black Friday with their shopping carts still empty, going in circles among the store’s sales staff, who today wear red T-shirts announcing “the cheapest weekend of the year.”
As they tell shoppers that the price for the 60-inch flat-screen TV in front of them is the lowest they will ever see, someone with a microphone urges shoppers not to wait until Black Friday to do their Christmas shopping: “Forget about the long lines, ‘the good weekend’ is here.”
El Buen Fin, dubbed the Mexican Black Friday, took place from November 13 to November 16 this year. In past years, El Buen Fin has rung up to 197 billion pesos in sales, according to the Confederation of National Chambers of Commerce (Conacaco), This year was expected to bring in between four to eight percent more. While El Buen Fin has been successful in most parts in México since its inception in 2011, it hasn’t had the same success in border cities such as Cd. Juárez where shoppers have access to U.S. Black Friday sales.
EL PASO — Ramon Garcia, 55, lives on a fixed disability income and he never really thought much about electricity, until the El Paso Electric Company announced that it will raise his monthly power cost by $8.41. “The thing about the Electric Company, you can’t go anywhere else it not like the cell phones. It’s them or nobody else,” Garcia said. “You can scream and holler all you want but it won’t do you any good, unless the whole city raises hell, which I doubt.“
Dissatisfied and frustrated with the increase the electric company is asking for, Garcia understands there is not much that can be done, given that El Paso Electric is a monopoly. Alex Ochoa, an electrician in his early 40’s, has the same worries.
Cd. JUAREZ — Muchos sitios son icónicos aquí prácticamente por decreto como el Bar Kentucky, la Catedral de Guadalupe, el parque de El Chamizal, pero entre estos hay un ícono algo olvidado– los mercados de segundas de la ciudad. Desde los que van emergiendo con el tiempo y luego desaparecen hasta los que tienen más de cuarenta años, los mercados de segundas son sitios de comercio informal que por diversas causas se resisten a desparecer. Varios de estos mercados populares se encuentran próximos a puntos de cruce y denso tráfico o bien en las inmediaciones de espacios de reunión, como el situado a un costado de la iglesia San Pedro Y San Pablo, o dentro de los mismísimos -y tradicionales- Herrajeros. Los hay de todos tamaños y últimamente han empezado a florecer en las proximidades de zonas habitacionales clasemedieras.
EL PASO—Gas prices have been on a roller coaster ride since the beginning of the year, but the days of filling up a car with a crisp $20 bill may be a possibility for the summer. Gas prices started to rise again at of the end of January, reaching $2.42 in February and have since slowly decreased as the maintenance of refineries in the U.S. have finished and have gone online worldwide. “Other cities are more geographically compact because they don’t have mountain ranges or military bases preventing them from getting to their destination. We tend to use a lot more gasoline per capita in El Paso,” said Tom Fullerton, professor of economics and finance at the University of Texas at El Paso. “So when gasoline prices go down, it helps us a lot.
EL PASO — Clouded in secrecy, the United States is negotiating a trade agreement with 11 other countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region, including Mexico, known as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TTP). TPP has been compared to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a trade agreement between Mexico, the U.S, and Canada that was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993 and came into effect in 1994. Critics of TPP have referred to it as NAFTA on steroids. The other countries involved in the agreement are Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia and Japan. Negotiations for the treaty have been conducted behind closed doors with no public or congressional input.
By Wesley Juhl – SHFWIRE.com
WASHINGTON – While important stories about the Ebola crisis, Islamic state group and nationwide protests dominated headlines this year, the news media neglected other important stories. Several prominent journalists met at the Woodrow Wilson Center in December to discuss the most underreported stories of 2014. No one at the event would admit to missing an event outright – one journalist said that would be tantamount to admitting to malpractice – but they shared news they said should have gotten more widespread attention. 1. Loose nukes in Pakistan
Pakistan has at least six nuclear sites and could have as many as 200 nuclear devices by 2020.
EL PASO/SUNLAND PARK — From fresh local produce and artisan foods to hand-woven baskets and natural soaps, Ardovino’s Desert Crossing in Sunland Park, New Mexico is one popular local spot to get a taste of El Paso and New Mexico specialties. Julia Cipriano, owner of Of The Earth Beads & Jewelry, greets potential customers with a genuine smile at her booth. She tells shoppers that she can adjust any piece of handmade jewelry to their liking. She calls it negotiation. “Once I make something, even if I make a duplicate, it’s not an exact duplicate,” said Cipriano, who has been beading bracelets, earrings and necklaces since childhood.
EL PASO – When Candace Olivas gets home after work she drops her bag full of nursing textbooks and right away turns on the TV, flips through the channels, and turns up the volume as news about the Dow Jones Industrial Average, NASDAQ and S&P; 500 blasts through her apartment. Numbers from the day’s stock market trading session shine from the screen onto her intense eyes. Olivas, 22, is not a stockbroker, but a young American stock market investor. “I always felt that only way to gain wealth in today’s world is either starting your own business and making it big or investing in the stock market,” Olivas said. Olivas, who recently graduated with honors from the University of Texas at El Paso nursing program, is one of the few young Americans investing in the stock market.
EL PASO – Political and community leaders on the U.S.-Mexico border are promoting improved college graduation rates as a key to future economic development in the region. The importance of increasing the number of college graduates to attract and fill high skill, high paying jobs was a big part of the discussion at the 2014 Border Legislative Conference Sept. 12 in El Paso. The conference brought together civic, political and business leaders from both sides of the border to talk about issues of trade, commerce, mobility and education. “There must be a push for higher education in order for the border region to succeed,” said Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas.
EL PASO – Every Sunday is like Christmas for Diana Lopez when she sorts through stacks of coupons and thinks about all the things she’ll be able give and receive. “I get very excited when it’s Sunday because it’s time to go shopping and save some money,” she said as she outlined her weekly routine that has saved her thousands of dollars over the years. Her day starts at her local Dollar Tree where she picks up the Sunday newspaper to find the coupons and sales at area stores. Lopez, 27, a special education teacher at Dolphin Terrace Elementary School, has been hooked on coupons since she was 24 years old, when she realized she was paying so much for clothes and food that she wasn’t able to build up much of a savings. “Many people think that using coupons is embarrassing and a waste of time but what if I my total was $112.64 and I ended up paying $19.02 with coupons?”
Using coupons has helped Lopez and her husband save enough to be able to afford a two-story house valued at more than $190,000.
WASHINGTON – Skewed economic policies are a driving factor for economic inequality in the United States. That’s the opinion of witnesses at a hearing held by the Senate subcommittee on economic policy Sept. 17 chaired by Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. Areas of significant difference in policy were taxes and deficits, trade and globalization, regulation of business and labor protection. “Every day thousands of lobbyists come onto the hill and seek to influence policy debates, usually in favor of the interests of more affluent citizens.
WASHINGTON – Texas needs more funding for its ports of entry. So does Michigan. Lawmakers from both states berated federal officials Wednesday for failing to improve the ports and for not even having a current list of which ports are on a list for funding. “The lack of transparency is troubling, to put it kindly,” Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., said during a House subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security hearing. “Customs and Border Patrol cannot continue to be a big black hole when it comes to ports of entry infrastructure needs, which can impact both trade facilitation and homeland security.”
Infrastructure needs at ports of entry often refers to CBP staffing, identification technology and roads.
Violence in Mexico has reached unprecedented levels, particularly since 2006 when former Mexican President Felipe Calderón declared a “war on drugs” and incorporated the military into the fight against transnational organized crime. Much of the violence, concentrated in the country’s northernmost border with the United States, has been accompanied by the widespread use of visceral, terror-inducing methods such as decapitation, dismemberment, mass kidnappings, public executions, car bombs, grenade attacks, and blockades. To date, Mexico’s drug war has “officially” claimed more than 70,000 lives, with an additional 27,000 disappearances linked to organized crime. In reality, the numbers are likely much higher, with some estimates placing the death toll at more than 100,000. At the same time, thousands of citizens have become internal refugees, displaced within Mexico or forced to move abroad.
CIUDAD JUÁREZ, México — Roaming the city is not what it used to be; the once busy and bustling city is losing money and residents very quickly. Recent provisional data from the INEGI show that Juárez has lost about 24% of its population. A city of 1.3 million has shrunk to one million, and 60 thousand families have migrated to other areas of Mexico or to the U.S.
As a result of this people flight, statistics from the Colegio de la Frontera Norte reveal that 116,000 houses have been abandoned, leaving 24% of the city’s homes empty. Yet those statistics may be erroneous because a study form the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez reveals that the sum might be closer to 100 thousand families leaving the city, leaving half a million (or about 40%) less inhabitants. These latter numbers do coincide; an article posted by the Diario de Juarez states that since 2006 nearly 110 thousand Mexican citizens asked for political asylum in the U.S., but only 183 obtained the asylum, less that 2% of the total.