How one U.S.-based Mexican crafts small business is trying to adapt to supply issues amid the pandemic

Dianna Williams-Hefley grew up with one foot on each side of the border. She spent her early years living in the United States, but due to job opportunities for her parents who were teachers, her family moved to Guadalajara, Mexico. That’s where she went to high school. Williams-Hefley recalls being mesmorized by the art culture she experienced while living in Mexico. Enchanted by the vibrant colors of folk art and the traditional methods used in each handcrafted piece, Williams-Hefley’s appreciation for Mexican artisan work stayed with her even after returning to the U.S.

“I was always trying to figure out someway to get back to Mexico,” Williams-Hefley said.

What you need to know about El Paso zoo’s limited reopening and pandemic safety protocols

Visitors to El Paso’s recently reopened zoo are getting to meet some new animals that settled in while the zoo was closed for the pandemic. “The cougars came in as cubs, two little bitty cubs. Now they are full grown cats,” said Zoo Director Joe Montisano. The popular destination for El Paso families reopened at 50 percent capacity in February. That’s 2,500 visitors a day.

A timeline of the pandemic in the Borderland

In the year since the pandemic’s arrival, thousands of people in both Ciudad Juárez and El Paso have died of COVID-19. Schools have shuttered. Businesses have struggled.

This timeline, produced as part of the Puente Media Collaborative, looks back at crucial moments in the past year.

The Asian Indian community finds a welcoming home in El Paso

by Maria Ramos Pacheco, El Paso Matters

Remove your shoes, open the door, ring the bell three times and walk toward the altar to pray. That’s what Hindu devotees do every time they enter the Southwest Hindu Temple on El Paso’s West Side. Colorful lights hang on the altar. India’s flag is on the right side and the U.S flag on the left. In the center of the temple is a brass tray “puja thali” with rice, turmeric, chandan and incense.

Supporting Borderland journalism students opens a world of opportunities

Borderzine note: Our publication is more than a website that covers life along the border. It is a training tool that gives aspiring journalists from El Paso and Ciudad Juarez a real newsroom experience in multimedia reporting. This month we are asking readers to help us in our mission by making a contribution on Borderzine’s behalf to NewsMatch. Thanks to NewsMatch and two other organizations that support diversity in news, every dollar donated before Dec. 31 will be tripled.

El Pasoans barred from New Mexico State Parks for the time being

New Mexico state officials have closed Elephant Butte Lake State Park to El Pasoans and other non-New Mexico residents because of the COVID-19 pandemic for the forseeable future, officials said. Only people with a New Mexico driver’s license are allowed in the state’s parks. El Pasoans who used to make the two-hour drive north on Interstate 25 north are disappointed with the state’s edict, enacted in mid-March. The order states only people with proof of New Mexico residency are allowed at Elephant Butte and other state parks, during the Covid-19 pandemic. Elephant Butte Lake State Park has been closed to non-state residents as per a public health order issued by the New Mexico Department of Health, said Susan Torres, public information officer at the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources department.

Innovating journalism education during a pandemic with a little help from our news network and donors

When COVID-19 first swept across the country this spring, news organizations began canceling internships for college students. That was devastating news for students at Hispanic-Serving Institutions like the University of Texas at El Paso who are trying to stand out in the media job market. Strong internships are needed for professional experience and important networking opportunities that can lead to better prospects at graduation. Fortunately, thanks to Borderzine’s dues-paying membership in the Institute for Nonprofit News, we were able to reach out to a wide network of digital media organizations around the country. The UTEP multimedia journalism program was able to place seven of our students in remote summer internships with INN members.

COVID-19 data projections: More than 1,000 El Pasoans may die before Christmas

The number of new COVID-19 cases in El Paso this past week dropped for the first time in two months but remains alarmingly high. The coming days and weeks will be among the most painful in El Paso’s history, even if the decline in new cases persists. Hospitals continue to be overwhelmed, and the novel coronavirus is killing El Pasoans at a heartbreaking rate that will only grow worse between now and the end of the year. Here’s the weekly COVID-19 data report from El Paso Matters. Deaths
El Pasoans are dying of COVID-19 at rates that were previously unimaginable, though it’s challenging to get precise data.

Video: Why does it matter how pandemic data is controlled?

By Julia Lane, New York University

The Conversation Editor’s note: When the Trump administration ordered hospitals to report COVID-19 data to the Department of Health and Human Services rather than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as they had been doing, it provoked worries and criticism from public health experts. The White House said that the HHS system will provide more accurate data faster, but the switch did raise concerns that political considerations would influence what data is reported. Professor of public policy Julia Lane, who recently published the book “Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto,” explains why public data is vital to public health and democracy in general. What was the main concern over the data? The whole point of having a career civil service running public data systems is that, because they can’t be fired, they have the integrity to produce the statistics the best way possible.

Brands may support anti-racism movement, but advertising still needs to decolonise

Carl W Jones, University of Westminster

Brands such as Nike and Adidas to PG Tips and Space NK have been expressing solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement by issuing statements and adverts of support – from Nike playing with their memorable tagline of “Just Do It” by asking consumers “for once, Don’t Do It” to the #Solidaritea hashtag taken up by many tea brands. Many of these messages have been accompanied by promises to take a hard look at each company’s history and current working practises to see what changes can be made to address structural racism. The idea that we need to decolonise various areas of society is finally growing. But the idea itself is, of course, nothing new. Calls and attempts to decolonise curriculums, public transport systems, museum collections, healthcare systems and so on have been around for a while, but finally many appear to be taking it a bit more seriously.

For El Paso family devastated by COVID-19, being careful wasn’t enough

Like most people, Ana and Eddie Gonzalez closely followed developments as COVID-19 swept across the globe. “I remember having discussions with my husband about how sad it was that people were going into the hospital and nobody could go and see them, and that people were dying alone,” said Ana, who works in a truancy prevention initiative for El Paso Independent School District. They took precautions to protect their family from the novel coronavirus.”Every time we went to a store, we always wore a mask, even before the order came in. We were even wearing gloves. I had sanitizer in my purse.

Restaurant wall painting of Puerto Rico inspired images

What El Pasoans need to know about Puerto Ricans

El Paso is dominated by residents of Mexican descent, so other Latino groups aren’t always reflected in the mainstream culture of the city. In this video, Borderzine reporter Michelle Rosado breaks down the differences and similarities of Mexican and Puerto Rican cultures in the borderland. https://youtu.be/mZSwbETnghQ

 

Samalayuca residents delay Copper Mine opening, continue protests to preserve farms and famous dune fields

SAMALAYUCA, MEXICO — Residents of this small farming town in northern Mexico petitioning authorities to stop a copper mine from opening have managed to temporarily halt the project. They started protesting last August after the Canadian mining corporation VVC Exploration announced plans to open the mine ‘La Gloria’ in the Samalayuca desert. A district judge on March 5th ordered the suspension of the mining project for at least five months, according to a report from El Diario de Juarez newspaper. But opponents know the fight is far from over in Samalayuca, a small agricultural town in Chihuahua about 35 miles south of El Paso-Ciudad Juarez border. Residents and environmental activists protesting the mine are supported through various organizations including Frente Eco-Social Paso del Norte, Frente Ciudadano Contra la Mina, and Para Que No Nos Mine la Mina.

Tribune en español, an alternative after Hoy’s shut down in Chicago

By Hallie Newnam, Special to Borderzine.com

CHICAGO – After 16 years, Hoy—the Spanish-language newspaper of the Tribune Publishing Company—has shut down. In mid-November, the Tribune announced that on Dec. 13, 2019 both Hoy’s print and online operations would end. However, the Tribune was reportedly “aggressively exploring other options” for its Hispanic audience. Many loyal followers of the publication were frustrated and confused about the newspaper’s abrupt end.

Family, food and shopping biggest reasons for El Pasoans to visit Juarez

Ciudad Juarez is known as a sprawling border city with a strong economy thanks to the proliferation of of over 300 hundred maquiladoras, factories that assemble parts for a variety of items from car radios to windmill blades. Less well known is that the desert city of 2 million residents draws many El Paso residents to visit each day to patronize a variety of Juarez businesses from restaurants to clothing boutiques. These preferences are most visibly shown in the medical and retail sectors, but according to the Border Perception Index, a survey conducted as part of an initiative called Building Broader Communities in the Americas, the second main reason El Pasoans cross to Cd. Juarez is to shop for 21.5 percent of those polled. The primary reason for El Pasoans to go to Juarez, according to the survey, is to visit family or friends, as indicated by 44 percent of those surveyed.

Cross-border home ownership rate reflects El Paso, Juarez binational community dynamic

About one in every six El Pasoans say they own homes in both Ciudad Juarez and El Paso, according to a recent survey. The Border Perception Survey asked border residents about topics ranging from education and health to the security and environment. The survey, a collaboration between the El Paso Community Foundation and Fundación Comunitaria Frontera Norte as part of an initiative called Building Broader Communities in the Americas, was conducted between August and September of 2018 and included 896 El Pasoans and 1,535 Juarez residents. “The surprising thing was such a large number of people who actually are dual citizens, or are citizens of one side of the other but have homes on the other side of the border. And so that was an impressive finding,” said one of the researchers on the project, Josiah Heyman, director of the Center for Inter-American and Border Studies and professor of Anthropology at the University of Texas at El Paso.

6 bands to see in the borderland before they’re gone for good

Whether you enjoy the lively bars in the Cincinnati District, the skyline views from the roofs of Downtown El Paso, or the laid-back atmosphere of the many dive bars scattered throughout the city, one thing you can find no matter what side of town you are on is great local music. But, nothing in the known universe last forever and the same principal applies to the bands we love. We have all felt the heartbreak when a band we follow stops creating music. Or, even worse is discovering a band that has already broken up. As bands come and go here are six bands from the borderland you should see before they’re gone.

A sacred light in the darkness: Winter solstice illuminations at Spanish missions

By Rubén G. Mendoza, California State University, Monterey Bay

On Saturday, Dec. 21, nations in the Northern Hemisphere will mark the winter solstice – the shortest day and longest night of the year. For thousands of years people have marked this event with rituals and celebrations to signal the rebirth of the sun and its victory over darkness. At hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of missions stretching from northern California to Peru, the winter solstice sun triggers an extraordinarily rare and fascinating event – something that I discovered by accident and first documented in one California church more than 20 years ago. At dawn on Dec.

Stalking and burglary reported as the most common crimes at UTEP

Stalking and burglary were the most prevalent crimes on the University of Texas at El Paso campus during the past year, but showed a slight decrease from previous years, according to a recently released crime report. The report – the Annual Security and Fire Safety report and released by the UTEP Police Department on Oct. 1 – showed 12 cases of burglary. That compares to 12 reports of burglary in 2017 and 27 in 2016. The report also showed and 13 cases of stalking in 2018.

Cross Border businesses offer the best of both worlds

The El Paso port of entry ranks among the busiest in the nation – second to only the San Diego/Tijuana port of entry – with inbound crossings into the United States. In 2018, 12.4 million personal vehicles carrying more than 22 million passengers crossed over into the United States using the El Paso port of entry. The El Paso – Ciudad Juarez port of entry has seen an increase of trade crossings every year for the past 10 years. In 2018 the port of entry was responsible for $81.9 billion crossing. That amount is 103% more than the $40.5 billion it was responsible for in 2000, according to recent statistics.

A Borderzine appeal, a so long, but not a final adios as other newsroom causes beckon

Dear friend,
I write today to personally request your continued support for Borderzine by participating in our year-end NewsMatch campaign that doubles your contributions to support student-produced border journalism. I’d also like to share a bit of personal news. Some of our recent journalism graduates already are making a difference, thanks to your support over the years. You may have seen them or read their bylines at news outlets like The Washington Post, ESPN, Texas Monthly, Dallas Morning News, Al Dia, Politico and Univision, among other notable media outlets. Last summer during the horrific mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart, it was gratifying to watch some recent journalism graduates and current students on the ground in the parking lot asking questions and reporting alongside the pros from CNN, Telemundo, The New York Times, and Washington Post.

Hugs Not Walls event gives families long divided by border precious minutes together

An estimated 3,000 people gathered Saturday morning, Oct. 26, to see Borderland family members and waited their turn along a small strip of damp land just a few feet from the Rio Grande to see their kin who many hadn’t seen in years and hug them for three minutes under the watchful eye of security officials.

Many family members live just a few miles apart, but it might as well be worlds apart. In at least one case, a woman saw and hugged her father for the first time in 31 years.

Keep these tips in mind when visiting your neighborhood bar

Working in a neighborhood bar can be a tough job. You work long shifts, always on your feet and on the go. You face customers who are at their best when they’re celebrating and at their worst when they’ve had way too much to drink. But, it can also be great job because you get to meet a lot of different people, which makes it fun and interesting. And, you can make good money in tips if you provide excellent customer service.