Learning how to swim and following the rules can prevent drownings

EL PASO — Even though 70 percent of the Earth is covered in water there are people who don’t know how to swim and don’t find it necessary to learn.That attitude can drown them. “My dad threw me in when I was four,” said University of Texas at El Paso student Linda Flores, 20. “I had to learn not to panic.”
Most people can recall a scary, calm, or funny experience they had when learning how to swim.According to a national research study by the USA Swimming Foundation and the University of Memphis, if a parent does not know how to swim, there is only a 13 percent chance that a child in that household will learn how to swim.There are people that do not think swimming is dangerous, but when a person drowns there usually is no call for help. The victim can’t yell underwater and it can happen even in the shallowest depths.Studies from the Centers for Disease Control have found that a toddler can even drown in a bucket filled with water due to lack of supervision. The toddler’s head can get stuck on the way in and finding no way out, the child can slump into the bucket preventing the body from standing back up.

The choice to consume healthier organic dairy products comes down to price

EL PASO — As the sun rises over the desert landscape, the rushing hooves of a herd of 80 calves creates a dust storm as they rush to their morning feast of gourmet quality hay bales. The calves and cows at Licon Dairy are the VIPs of the dairy industry in the greater El Paso area. Licon Dairy does things differently than other local factory farm competitors such as Price’s Creameries. Licon raises organic livestock — no hormones, no antibiotics, no mysterious injections for these happy and healthy bovines. “You have to give them the best quality of hay to keep them healthy,” said Angel Licon of the Licon Dairy family, “We start them off healthy by leaving the calves with their mothers to feed and get all of the nutrients from their milk.

El bar más antiguo de Ciudad Juárez inventó la margarita y la sigue sirviendo

CD. JUAREZ — En el puente Paso del Norte, cruce internacional entre El Paso y Ciudad Juárez, una marea de personas, vendedores ambulantes y autos se alinean para cruzar al país vecino, mientras los famosos lavadores de carros que no dejan ni un carro limpio siguen frenéticos en su tarea. En el centro de la ciudad queda poco de lo que fue una maravillosa vida nocturna en Ciudad Juárez. Ahora algunos edificios en ruinas son recuerdos de lo que antes eran bares transitados. “La Juárez,” calle conocida por muchos por su gran vida nocturna, ya sea por ir por una copa o una prostituta, esta reviviendo.

Phony lawyers calling themselves notarios continue to scam unsuspecting immigrants

EL PASO — A “Now Renting” sign and an empty office is all Irma Castañeda found when she went to ask her immigration attorney how her deferred action petition was proceeding. She had paid the man who turned out not to be a lawyer at all $2000 to solve her immigration problem. Had the scam never happened, Castañeda would be done with her deferred action process. In the meantime, she is not allowed to work and she is desperate because her husband was deported recently, the house he started to build for them at Horizon City is unfinished, and she cannot feed or provide any comfort to her two daughters — Rosalva, 12, and Jackeline, 9, who was born with a developmental disability. According to immigrant advocates, individuals setting up phony legal offices on the bilingual U.S.-Mexico border are taking advantage of the frequent confusion between the term notario público understood to usually denote a lawyer in Mexico and notary public, which in the U.S. is a person with no legal training, with the very limited legal authority of a licensed notary public to basically attest to the validity of a signature on a document for a $6 fee.

Football coaches debate the possible benefits and dangers of marijuana use

EL PASO — The week before the Super Bowl, Seattle Seahawks Head Coach, Pete Carroll was asked about his thoughts on the use in the NFL of medicinal marijuana, which is legal in the state of Washington. Carroll said that the NFL needs to continue to find ways to make football a better game by taking care of its players in the best way possible. “The fact that it’s [medicinal marijuana] in the world of medicine is obviously something [that Commissioner Roger Goodell] realizes.” Carroll said he supports the commissioner’s “expression that we need to follow the information and the research.”

Carroll said that regardless of the stigmas involved, he thinks “we have to do this because the world of medicine is trying to do the exact same thing and figure it out and they’re coming to some conclusions.” University of Texas at El Paso head football Coach Sean Kugler said he does not agree with Carroll. “I have my own opinions about drugs and college athletes, and that is handled within our program,” he said.

Autorama shows off the beauty and the beast in all types of custom cars

EL PASO – The aroma of leather, roasted almonds, and Carnauba wax fills the Convention center bringing to mind a vintage vision of sea foam green tank-sized cars sporting white walled tires.Spectators are awed by these metallic Mona Lisa’s and massive crowds have gathered here today to get a glance at them just like fine art lovers gather at the Louvre in Paris. The Autorama show brings in all different types of individuals from the same car-loving community to demonstrate the power and beauty of their automobiles. A multitude of enthusiasts fill the room and every audible conversation revolved around hot rods or muscle cars. “I’ve been building street rods ever since I was 14 and I always had to do that after work,” said Jerry Haley, a contestant at the Autorama and the owner of a 1933 Chevrolet Standard Six, which won Goodguys/Timberland Pro award in 2006 earning the Chevy the title of Homebuilt Heaven National Champion. His 1933 Chevrolet Standard Six, is an original car with a six-cylinder motor that he took apart and rebuilt into a real street rod with a tune-port fuel injection fast-burn 385 engine with overdrive.

Despite legalization in some states, local marijuana pushers peddle in the old fashioned way

EL PASO — Colorado and Washington State approved legal sale and personal use of marijuana last year paving the road for the rest of country to light legally, but, until that occurs, cannabis users will have to procure their weed the old fashioned way — from drug pushers.  

The illegal drug providers include individuals who put themselves at the risk of getting caught by police while obtaining the drugs from major traffickers and, then disbursing their product to a plentiful clientele anxiously awaiting their high.  

One local drug pusher who travels regularly from here to California to get his merchandise at the best market price now marvels at the irony while drug sellers are just retail merchants paying taxes elsewhere, he is considered a criminal here.  

In the meantime, he travels to get the best wholesale price. “They would give me 10 pounds every month, maybe 20,” said a source who wishes to remain nameless.

New technology bridges US-Mexico border at Columbus school

By Lindsey Anderson

COLUMBUS, N.M. — The sun hasn’t yet risen when the first children arrive. Most are middle and high school students, beginning the bleary-eyed walk just after 6 a.m. Then come the youngsters, the elementary school children, accompanied by mothers and fathers and tías and tíos. The families walk through the opening in the wall, running indefinitely in either direction, and up to a small patio and the Columbus Port of Entry. The parents help their students slip on backpacks, zip up coats and plant kisses on little cheeks, then they send their children off to the United States of America. More than 300 young U.S. citizens living in and around Palomas, Mexico, cross into the United States each day to attend public school in southwestern New Mexico’s Luna County.

Waiters feel the pinch as the IRS changes the rules on restaurant tips

EL PASO — Shirt tucked in, apron on, sipping her morning coffee15 minutes past opening, Vanessa Parralounges on the restaurant’s takeout bench waiting for her shift to begin scrolling through the social media on her phone. Briefly scanning the front entryway for any approaching guests, she couldn’t be any more prepared for the day’s lunch crowd. But the unpredictability of the amount of income she will receive that day from tips worries her. It’s a constant worry. The job puts money in her pocket at all times and that is a plus, however, she never knows how much that will be.

Religiosas católicas de Nuevo México crean un oasis en el desierto para los niños con discapacidades

CIUDAD JUÁREZ — Las risas y llantos de los niños se mezclan con las voces de sus padres y voluntarias en Proyecto Santo Niño, una humilde construcción de concreto, conformada por tres habitaciones con piso de cemento donde las madres se preparan para dar terapia a sus hijos. Afuera, una hermosa Virgen de Guadalupe pintada del tamaño de la pared blanca adorna la fachada. En este humilde lugar hace 13 años las religiosas católicas Hermanas de la Caridad de Cincinnati prestan sus servicios gratuitamente a niños con alguna discapacidad física o mental, en la colonia Anapra, una de las áreas más pobres de Ciudad Juárez. El común denominador de los 52 niños que se benefician de los servicios gratuitos de la clínica es que viven en extrema pobreza. En un país con un sistema de salud pública percibido como deficiente y rebasado por la demanda de servicios médicos, los niños con incapacidades físicas y mentales son los más desprotegidos.

Longtime El Paso sports writer Ray Sanchez remembers the laughs and the tears

EL PASO — Ray Sanchez, considered the first Hispanic sports writer in El Paso, has a long view of local sports history and he remembers the stories that made him laugh and cry in his latest book. “I had a lot of happy parts in my book that I enjoyed. There were so many games, so many great ones,” said Sanchez about his latest book The Good, The Bad, And the Funny of El Paso Sports History, “But I guess the biggest thrill I got, and it was so emotional that I almost cried when I would write it, was when the Miners won this 1966 championship.”

He has written seven books, all of them about sports. He was a sports writer for the El Paso Herald-Post from 1950 to 1990. He was a columnist for the El Paso Times, and currently writes for El Paso, Inc. He has won numerous awards for his coverage.

The Mustard Seed Cafe feeds the hungry and demands little in return

EL PASO—Since its grand opening in December of last year, the Mustard Seed Café near downtown has worked hard to keep its commitment to the El Paso community by assuring that “everyone eats.”

Founded by close friends Christi Brown, Patsy Burdick, and Shelley Speicher, the pay-what-you-can eatery is the only one of its kind in the Sun City. It allows patrons to enjoy nutritious entrées and side dishes for less than full price. Customers can also pay for meals by briefly volunteering their time in the kitchen or garden. “We want to make this quality of food available to everybody in the community regardless of their ability to pay for it,” said Brown. The café is non-profit, which allows guests to pay well below the suggested price of $3 for a side dish to $10 per entree.

Hipólito López’ thriving saddlery business was born behind bars

Lea esta historia en español

DURANGO, Mexico — Hipólito López never thought that he would learn a new trade in prison that would lead to his own business after incarceration. “Polo” spent 12 years in prison at Beaumont, Texas, where he learned various crafts such as making paintbrushes, beadwork and saddlery. “I learned this leather craft at the prison in the United States. I studied and worked for 12 years doing this at the prison,” López said. In 1998, López was detained for marihuana trafficking and he was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Hipólito López, “Polo”, spent 12 years in prison at Beaumont, Texas, where he learned various crafts. (Jessica Salcedo/Borderzine.com)

La talabartería nació en la carcel, florece en la libertad

Read this story in English

DURANGO, México — Hipólito López nunca pensó que su experiencia en la cárcel lo ayudaría a aprender un oficio y en el futuro crear su propio negocio. “Polo”, como la gente comúnmente lo conoce, estuvo 12 años en la prisión de Beaumont, Texas. Ahí pasó su tiempo aprendiendo a hacer varios trabajos artesanales como hacer brochas para pintar, hacer accesorios de chaquira y la talabartería. “Yo, este arte lo aprendí ahí en la prisión en Estados Unidos. Estudié y trabajé 12 años haciendo eso ahí en la prisión”, expresó López.

Here to make the border safe again. (Sergio Chapa/Borderzine.com)

Fin del viaje por la frontera Texas-México

La frontera central México-Estados Unidos: El Paso, Texas y Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua
Lo que sigue es el último episodio del viaje por la frontera Texas-México que realicé con mi amigo, el periodista Sergio Chapa, a mediados del año pasado. Hoy describiré nuestra experiencia en las ciudades de El Paso, Texas y Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. Este último tramo resultó ser uno de los más interesantes de nuestro recorrido fronterizo. La importancia de la frontera central México-Estados Unidos es evidente desde que uno se va acercando a la ciudad de El Paso, Texas. La frontera “central” —como le suelo llamar yo a la zona de El Paso-Ciudad Juárez— es una zona de gran desarrollo económico, de evidente complejidad y sobretodo de contrastes.

Mural at the Stanton Street Bridge in downtown El Paso. (Sergio Chapa/Borderzine.com)

Last stop, El Paso and Ciudad Juarez

I’m going to admit now. There is no way to describe El Paso in a single blog but I’ll try my best. With close to one million residents, El Paso is the biggest city on the Texas side of the border. But it’s also filled with many contrasts making it one of the most complex and intriguing. The border city is home to four international bridges and one international railroad crossing.

Blimp used for border security just west of Marfa. (Sergio Chapa/Borderzine.com)

El trayecto de Presidio al El Paso, Texas: Una tormenta en el camino, la guerra por el agua y los puentes del futuro

Ahora contaré mis impresiones sobre el último tramo de nuestro viaje por la frontera México-Texas. Dejamos Presidio con dirección hacia las ciudades de El Paso, Texas y Ciudad Juárez (Chihuahua). Este episodio es corto, pero interesante. Al salir de Presidio (Texas) hacia el norte, tomamos la carretera 67 que nos llevaría de nuevo a la ciudad de Marfa —aquella ciudad donde pudimos apreciar, por la noche, una misteriosas luces bajo un gran cielo estrellado. En ese trayecto el paisaje estuvo dominado por montañas.

Storm clouds rolled in from the mountains and then over Highway 90. (Sergio Chapa/Borderzine.com)

Highway to El Paso

After several days on the road, Lupita and I realized that we had fewer days ahead of us than behind us. It was more than 100 degrees when we left the Rio Grande River plain in Presidio. But it was a steady climb into the mountains as we headed north on U.S. Highway 67 back to Marfa. In the rear view mirror, storm clouds could be seen coming in over the mountains of Mexico. The wind was picking up and the higher the elevation, the cooler the temperature.

Nine-year-old twins Isaac and Rebecca Alvarado with an image of the their mother, Valeria Tachiquin-Alvarado, who was shot and killed Sept. 28, 2012, by a border agent in Chula Vista, Calif. (Nick Oza /The Republic)

More border agents assisting local police

Critics say federal agents often lack training for domestic police work
By Rob O’Dell and Bob Ortega

Part 1: Wall of silence
Part 2: Video of death, little reaction
Part 3 of 3
 

On the afternoon of March 15, 2011, at least five Border Patrol agents and another federal agent went with Sierra Vista police officers to conduct a “knock and talk” at a house in a neighborhood where police suspected a human-smuggling operation. After agents knocked on the front screen door, a white Chevy Suburban smashed out through the garage door, rammed into law-enforcement vehicles and drove at officers, according to Sierra Vista police reports. Federal agents fired 10 shots at the vehicle, and Sierra Vista officers fired once, with several bullets hitting the vehicle. The drivers escaped, and the Suburban was later found on a mountain in nearby Fort Huachuca. No one was hurt, but neighbors hid during the shooting, and a stray bullet struck a nearby Hyundai Santa Fe and was later found in the back seat, the police report said.

Seok-Kiew Koay — Jewelry in the right place at the right price

EL PASO – A group of people gathered at the Union Plaza downtown on a recent Saturday morning to browse through and buy arts, crafts and food delicacies at the weekly Downtown Artists and Farmers Market. One vendor in particular stands out from the displays of original, unique hand-made art works because it doesn’t have a canopy overheard like the others. This stand belongs to Seok-Kiew Koay, 58, a designer and maker of bracelets, earrings, necklaces, and rosaries who has been a regular at the farmer’s market since 2011. “I’ve been doing this (jewelry) for 15 years and this hobby has become my job. I enjoy it,” said Koay as she held up one of her necklaces.

Buñuelos' highest season starts a week before Thanksgiving and ends a week after New Year's Eve. (Karina Moreno/Borderzine.com)

The border region welcomes home holiday dishes from the Hispanic world

EL PASO — Christmas, on the border is different than anywhere else in America. Traditions from south of the border come together to form a unique and delightful style of holiday mirth. Traditional foods originating from Mexico and beyond have made their way here and ingrained themselves into the local culture. Buñuelos are a tasty treat that span across many cultures thanks to the Middle East’s influence on Spain. Traditionally they are served at Christmas for the Christians, Rammadan for the Muslims, and Hannakuh for the Sephardic Jews.

Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez was shot 10 times in the back and the head 14 months ago here in Nogales, Sonora. Photo by Nick Oza /The Republic

Deadly border agent incidents cloaked in silence

Republic investigation finds little public accountability in Southwest Border killings

Part 1 of the Series Force at the Border

By Bob Ortega and Rob O’Dell

A ghost is haunting Nogales. His face stares out from shop windows. It is plastered on handbills and painted on walls under the shadow of the U.S.-Mexican border fence here. Candles and doves are stenciled onto steel posts of the fence itself in his memory, each a promise not to forget the night, 14 months ago, when teenager Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez was shot 10 times in the back and head by one or more Border Patrol agents firing through the fence into Mexico. Similar specters haunt other border towns in Arizona, Texas and California, with the families of the dead charging that Border Patrol agents time and again have killed Mexicans and U.S. citizens with impunity.

Indonesian woman outside her home in Sulawesi, Indonesia. (Valeria Hernandez/Borderzine.com)

I spotted two pairs of female orangutans and their young foraging for food in the Indonesian jungle

EL PASO – I opened my eyes and immediately felt the heat of my bed sheet and the mosquito net on my face, the wooden roof seemed like a stranger I saw for the first time, and the mattress I lay on felt unfamiliar. It took me a few seconds to remember that I wasn’t in my room in El Paso, Texas, but rather in a local family’s traditional Islamic home in Bali, Indonesia. This past spring I was admitted into the Indonesia Study Abroad Program, led by Dr. Stacey Sowards, Chair of the Communication Department at the University of Texas at El Paso. Along with 12 other students and four faculty members, I spent three weeks in Indonesia and had the opportunity to observe the environmental conservation programs that the non-governmental organization Rare and the University of Mulawarman run in the island. According to its website, Rare “trains local conservation leaders all over the world to change the way their communities relate to nature…inspiring people to take pride in the species and habitats that make their community unique, while also introducing practical alternatives to environmentally destructive practices.”

Leaving the country for the first time in my life made my mind race a million miles per hour.

La fuerza de voluntad con la que mi madre vive su vida me enseña que siempre hay que seguir luchando. (Vianey Alderete/Borderzine.com)

Lo que me enseñaron las manos de mi madre

EL PASO – Cuando yo tenía 11 años mi mamá se convirtió en mi muñeca. Tuve que acomodarle los brazos para ayudarla a vestirse, hacerle de comer, cuidarla y amarla más que nunca. La rapidez con la que la artritis reumatoide se adueñó de su cuerpo fue tanta que ése mismo año dejó de usar zapatos altos y empezó a tener dificultad cambiándose la ropa. Sus síntomas eran resultados de esa dolencia que le fue detectada cuando tenía 36 años. Es una enfermedad crónica del sistema inmune que causa la inflamación de las articulaciones como las rodillas, las caderas y los tejidos circundantes.

Lajitas is sometimes refered to as the "country club of Texas." (Sergio Chapa/Borderzine.com)

Un Viaje por el “Camino del Rio” (FM-170): Del Big Bend a Presidio, Texas-Ojinaga, Chihuahua

El día de hoy hablaré del recorrido que hicimos por otra parte de la región del Big Bend en nuestro camino hacia Presidio, Texas—y Ojinaga, Chihuahua, del otro lado del Río Bravo. Salimos temprano del pueblo fantasma de Terlingua, donde tomamos más fotos y desayunamos en un sitio que era sólo para turistas. Seguimos entonces por la carretera FM-170, conocida también como “Camino del Río” (The River Road). La FM-170 comienza en el denominado Study-Butte, que es la entrada al parque nacional del Big Bend. Ahí encontramos algunos hoteles, tiendas, una gasolinera y restaurantes; todo esto era esencialmente para los turistas del Big Bend.

The Rio Grande River near Lajitas, Texas. (Sergio Chapa/Borderzine.com)

The River Road

Lupita and I were sad to leave the magical mountain town of Terlingua but our journey across the border had to continue. We set course on FM 170, which is known as the “River Road” because it runs parallel to the winding Rio Grande River for 120 miles. The folks at the cafe in Terlingua told us that the road was one of the most beautiful in Texas, so we were eager to see it for ourselves. It didn’t take us long to reach the town of Lajitas, a resort town with an official population of 50 people. Just the day before, we had seen the majestic natural beauty of Big Bend National Park and the ghost town of Terlingua.

Convoy of Hope delivered 50,000 pounds of groceries to to 6,398 attendees. (Jose Luis Hernandez/Borderzine.com)

Thousands brave the cold to seek assistance from the Convoy of Hope

Convoy of Hope, audio report by Nancy Lorain Watters

EL PASO – The rainy, windy, and freezing weather didn’t stop the Convoy of Hope from going far and beyond the
call of generosity on its first visit to El Paso. Many families in the area went to the El Paso County Coliseum on November 23 and stood in the cold in the hope of getting some much needed groceries at no cost. The Convoy of Hope is an international faith-based non-profit organization that delivers food and provides many services to underprivileged people in the U.S. and around the world. Hal Donaldson founded Convoy of Hope in 1994 in Springfield MO, after members of the community joined forces to help him and his family recover after a drunk driver killed his father and incapacitated his mother. El Paso Convoy of Hope spokeswoman Lorayn Melton said that the needy families that attended the event were the guests of honor.

Centennial Plaza will be located in the middle of UTEP campus and includes a Lhakhang, a gift from the Kingdom of Bhutan. (Nora Rausch/Borderzine.com)

UTEP campus gets a facelift in time for centennial celebrations

EL PASO – The University of Texas at El Paso begins its centennial celebrations at the start of 2014 and students are excited about the changes the centennial is bringing to campus. “I’ve seen the plans for the construction, and it looks like it will be worth it,” says sophomore UTEP student Eliana Grijalva. “The model for the Centennial Plaza looks really cool. I just can’t wait until construction is done,” she added. Other students agree that while the construction now is tedious, the end result looks like it will be well worth it.

You can cross on foot or pay a couple of bucks to be taken across in a row boat. (Sergio Chapa/Borderzine.com)

Big Bend: A park, a ghost town and crying rocks

After a hearty breakfast, Lupita and I set out for Big Bend National Park and the Boquillas border crossing. It was a two-hour drive with no cell phone service to the town of Study Butte where we made a pit stop. We were puzzled to watch a woman mumbling to herself and waging an unceasing war with a flyswatter to kill flies on a bench outside the store. For every fly that she killed, five more seemed to take its place. It was a 100 degrees and seemed too hot to expend that much energy on anything.