Santa Cruz in Rio Grande City, Texas. (Sergio Chapa/

Starr County

Mine and Lupita’s trip continued west into Starr County. With only 62,000 inhabitants, Starr County is nicknamed the “Hill Country of the Rio Grande Valley.” It’s easy to understand why. The four counties of the Rio Grande Valley are flat, with rich soil created from the Rio Grande River floodplain. But Starr County is more arid, hilly and rocky.

Los Indios, Texas. Transmigrantes companies are big business in Los Indios where Central American immigrants fill up buses and other vehicles with used clothes and toys and take them back to their home countries. (Sergio Chapa/

Space commerce, oil discoveries, Central American transmigrantes and a spiffy new highway along northern Mexico are transforming the Brownsville-Matamoros corridor

BROWNSVILLE-MATAMOROS – Our nine-day journey started in the southernmost tip of Texas just east of where the Rio Grande River empties into the Gulf of Mexico. Cameron County is home to more than 406,000 people and is one of four counties that make up the Rio Grande Valley. It’s a beautiful part of the border, one filled with great natural beauty. But there are also bleak industrial landscapes mixed in with rich farmland and neighborhoods both rich and poor. Mexico’s bloody drug war and kidnappings have definitely taken its toll on American tourism south of the border in Mexico’s State of Tamaulipas.

Father Bob Mosher, from the Columban Mission Center, Melissa López, from the El Paso Catholic Diocese Center for Immigrant and Refuge Services, Fernando García, director of the Border Network for Human Rights, Katie Anita Hudak, director of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center. (Aaron Montes/

U.S. journalists seek to learn from immigration advocates and get an earful: We didn’t invite you to darles una regañada… but you need to earn back the public’s trust

EL PASO – The American media still has a lot of work to do. It has not fulfilled its responsibility covering the stories of the millions of immigrants that live in the United States, and has not fully challenged the narrative that has dominated the immigration debate for the last decade and a half, a panel of border activists and immigration experts agreed this last weekend. In front of the five panelists, a roomful of journalists listened to their concerns and ideas as part of the first Specialized Reporting Institute on Immigration Reform held in El Paso, TX and sponsored by the McCormick Foundation. The twenty reporters from all over the country and a dozen journalism students sat in silence inside the auditorium of Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe on Sept. 28 as they listened to the concerns of the immigration advocates.

Our goal was to see every international border crossing along the Texas-Mexico

It was a trip that only lasted nine days but one that I’ll never forget for the rest of my life. I was born in raised in Texas and have lived for many years along the border. But I’ve never seen the entire Texas side of the border until I took a trip with my friend Lupita. I’m a journalist working for KGBT-TV in Harlingen and she’s a government professor at the University of Texas at Brownsville. Our work using social media to cover and research Mexico’s drug war overlapped in many areas.

(©Angela Kocherga)

When bullets turned to ballads

Juárez, the war-ravaged border town, welcomes back Juan Gabriel, and hope
CIUDAD JUAREZ – This city, along with its prodigal son, the mega-star known as Juan Gabriel, has seen better days—we all have. The world-renowned singer with the thinning, dyed hair, wrinkles, and a few too many pounds walked forcefully on stage. Never mind that his voice was a bit raspy, his steps a bit wobbly. There he was, in full splendor, dressed in white with brown and green trimmings. Like Juárez, he was still standing.

The streets of Veracruz, Mexico. (©Miguel Angel Lopez Velasco)

Mexicans pay in blood for America’s war on drugs

By Molly Molloy and Charles Bowden

EL PASO – Children play in the pool, hamburgers and hot dogs sizzle on the grill. The exiles will be here shortly after their year in flight from a house full of dead people. Everyone at the party has dead people murdered in Mexico by the Mexican government with the silent consent of the U.S. government. There are 100,000 slaughtered Mexicans now. These gatherings will grow larger.

Alejandro Hernández Pachecho, a cameraman exiled from Torreón, México. (Victoria A. Perez/

Mexican kidnap victim establishes a new life in El Paso

EL PASO – Sitting on the cold hard cement the man was able to remove part of his blindfold and focusing his sight, the dim light revealed a small dirty room covered in blood. Alejandro Hernandez Pacheco, 42, had been kidnapped in Torreon, Mexico, and one of the few who survived to tell the story. He worked as a cameraman for the television station, Televisa, in Torreon. On July 26, 2010 during a regular day of work, Pacheco was sent to cover a news story about killings connected to a prison in his city. Hernandez and two fellow reporters were sent to the prison in Gomez Palacio, Durango, were several murders of guards had taken place that same month.

El Paso, the safest city in the U.S. by fact, the most dangerous by media coverage. (José Luis Trejo/

El Paso is still the safe, prosperous Sun City it has always been

EL PASO – As editor-in-chief of The Prospector and Minero Magazine, reporter for Borderzine and the occasional freelance journalism work I have been able to take around El Paso, I find hard to believe the image many have of this city. As the drug-related violence continues in our sister city, Ciudad Juárez, the borderland has been in the national spotlight with various media outlets focusing on the drug-war. Even though El Paso was ranked as one of the safest cities in the U.S. by CQ press in 2010, the city is still perceived as a dangerous city due to its proximity to Juárez. When I went on an internship at the Houston Chronicle in 2010, once people found out I was from El Paso they all would ask the same questions: how dangerous is El Paso? Is it true that the violence has spilled over to El Paso?