Negocio cerrado en la colonia Melchor Ocampo en Ciudad Juárez. (Cortesía de El Diario de Juárez)

Desplazarse o morir: Empresarios mexicanos migran por violencia e inseguridad

CIUDAD DE MÉXICO — Edgar N. era un exitoso hombre de negocios del estado de Michoacán. Habiendo vivido en la entidad buena parte de su vida adulta, Edgar disfrutaba de la tranquilidad y ganancias que le generaba su empresa; al menos hasta hace 5 años, cuando se vio obligado por el crimen organizado a mudarse hacia el estado de Querétaro. Luego de ser víctima de extorsión por parte del narcotráfico, su negocio de exportación fue desmantelado; él, su esposa y su hijo, tuvieron que rehacer su vida entera en otra parte. “El negocio iba  bien,  facturaba 500 mil pesos mensuales; yo era de los competidores más fuertes en mi rubro en la región”, comenta el empresario. Michoacán nunca estuvo libre del crimen organizado, diferentes bandas criminales operaron el negocio de narcotráfico en el territorio, pero los traficantes de antes operaban como negociantes, explica Edgar.

(Raymundo Aguirre/

Mexodus: Mucha política y poca investigación

CIUDAD JUÁREZ — Rodolfo Rubio Salas es profesor e investigador de la Dirección Regional Noroeste del Colegio de la Frontera Norte de Ciudad Juárez. Con un postgrado en demografía y 16 años de experiencia en esta institución, Rubio Salas se especializa en cuestiones migratorias en zonas fronterizas y asegura que detrás de las diversas cifras que se han dado a conocer sobre el éxodo de personas de Ciudad Juarez a El Paso hay mucha política y poca investigación. Pregunta: ¿Qué piensa de lo que se dice acerca de la migración fronteriza en esta región? Respuesta: “Mira yo aquí en algunos sectores me convertí en persona non grata. Hubo un momento a principios del 2009 donde se hicieron muchísimas reuniones a las que venía el gobierno federal y uno se sentaba muy seriamente, pues las investigaciones son serias.

Caravan for Peace demands an end to the wave of Mexican violence

EL PASO — The beat of drums and shakers echoed off the buildings of downtown El Paso’s San Jacinto Plaza Saturday as matachines danced and a few hundred persons chanted “¡Juárez, Juárez, no es cuartel! Fuera ejército de él.”

The Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity, led by poet and activist Javier Sicilia settled in at the plaza as the poet told a crowd of several hundred about his son’s killing and stressed once again that the drug-war murders in Mexico are non-discriminatory. If something isn’t done to stop the killings, anyone could be a victim, he said. “It’s a war that no longer distinguishes. Any Mexican can be assassinated, can be a victim of crime or repression,” Sicilia said.

Posters call for trolleys to unite border cities instead of more fences

EL PASO – A multimedia artist from New York City is on a mission to revive the historic trolley system that once breached the borderline joining Ciudad Juarez to the Sun City. “I’m a firm believer that we should build trolleys, not walls,” said native El Pasoan Peter Svarzbein. His one-man ad campaign – the El Paso Transnational Trolley Project, – is provoking talk about a future connection between the sister cities. Public transportation in El Paso and Juarez began with that trolley service in 1881. They were not electric streetcars, but rather horse and mule-drawn trolleys.

Juarez coach now trains long-distance runners at UTEP

EL PASO – The violence that overwhelms daily life in Ciudad Juarez didn’t stop Pedro Lopez from helping others pursue the dream of becoming world-class runners. But now he dreams of the American dream. “The violence in Juarez is crazy. It became a crazy city. I remember when I was young and I could go out at whatever time and come back home late and not have any problem.

Juarez violence pushes a pastor and his flock across the border

EL PASO – Because of a lawless environment in Juarez in which churches are forced to pay protection money to gangsters or else suffer terrible consequences, the congregation of the Centro Cristiano Familiar Vencedores church felt threatened. Gunshots would regularly disturb services and Pastor Ramiro Macias’ church didn’t know what to expect when strangers appeared at the church door. Macias recalled recently that family dinners would be interrupted by the sound of gunfire in the neighborhood and the doorbell of his house rang at 3 a.m. on a regular basis. Not knowing what they wanted or why, he wouldn’t open the door and his family endured the sleepless nights in fear. The murder of a church member was the dreadful, final act of violence that motivated him to move his family and his church to El Paso.

UTEP offers solace to its Mexican students

EL PASO, Texas — The office of the vice president for student affairs at the University of Texas at El Paso has issued a letter addressed to students commuting to class from Mexico, encouraging those who may be experiencing difficulty coping with the recent murders in Juarez of two UTEP students to utilize the services the university provides. “The recent loss of students, Manuel A. Acosta and Eder A. Diaz, has been a difficult situation for the entire UTEP community. I am aware that for those of you who live in Juarez and other parts of Mexico or those of you who have immediate family there may be experiencing that loss more acutely,” said Dr. Richard Padilla, Vice President for Student Affairs. Padilla encouraged the UTEP student body to watch for students who may be struggling with the recent tragic events. “Let them know that there are people on campus who may be able to help.

The suffering of New Orleans has a lesson for El Paso

New Orleans composer Allen Toussaint once said “To get to New Orleans you don’t pass through anywhere else. That geographical location, being aloof, lets it hold onto the ritual of its own pace.” Sound familiar? As my last semester at UTEP draws to a close, the magnitude of change that has and will come my way has been so palpable that the last few months have become a blur of reflections over my career, what I will be doing in the next five years and wondering how I will ship Hatch chili to Louisiana. Had someone warned me about this, I probably would have laughed incredulously.  However, less than a year ago, I obtained a public relations position within a local liquor company that will soon branch out to New Orleans, Louisiana.

UTEP helps students and faculty deal with tragedy

EL PASO, Texas — Last week tragedy struck the University of Texas at El Paso when students Eder Andres Diaz Sotero, 23, and Manuel Acosta Villalobos, 22, were gunned down in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Many alike have felt the effects of the violence unfolding in Juarez the past three years. But like many students, faculty members are significantly impacted by the violence across the border. While much can be said about the counseling efforts given to students dealing with tragedies faced daily in Juarez, little is known about the resources available for faculty to help combat the stresses their students have encountered. “There’s a group of offices that give the professors the support for them to work with students in the classroom,” said Catie McCorry-Andalis, UTEP assistant vice president for student life and associate dean of students.

The killing streets next door

EL PASO, Texas — Generations of Mexican students have been commuting to the El Paso campus of the University of Texas for almost a hundred years. Two of them were murdered in Juarez last week, riddled by 36 high-powered bullets as they drove home in a residential neighborhood where one of them lived. Manuel Acosta, 22, drove his red Nissan Sentra from UTEP across the line on the early evening of November 2 to Colonia Rincones de Santa Rita where his passenger Eder Diaz, 23, lived only to die four hours later at a hospital. They were gunned down at the intersection of De La Arbolada and Manglares streets in their car near Diaz’ house. Those of us who teach here in this beautiful campus now worry about the safety of every one of the some 1400 students who cross the bridge to study here and then go home late in the day, every day.

More reaction to the killing of two UTEP students

EL PASO, Texas — The murder of two University of Texas at El Paso students continues to reverberate on campus, eliciting reactions from students, faculty and administration. “It really pains me,” said Dr. Gina Nunez-Mchiri, professor of Anthropology and Sociology at UTEP. “They’re our students… We know people who are losing family members to the violence and it affects us. It takes our sleep away.

Hundreds of Juarez students commute daily to class at UTEP

EL PASO, Texas — A young man catches a ride with his friend and they make their half hour trip home from school across the international port of entry into the streets of the most dangerous city on the U.S.-Mexico border. Manuel Acosta, 22, drove his red Nissan Sentra from The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) to the Colonia Rincones de Santa Rita where his friend Eder Diaz, 23, lived with his parents in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The trip home was routine to both students. Chihuahua State Police reported that a group of masked men armed with .223 caliber rifles similar to the NATO military rifles intercepted them at the intersection of De La Arbolada and Manglares streets in near of Diaz’s house. The assailants fired 36 shots killing Acosta at the scene and fatally injuring Diaz, who died in the early morning hours of November 3 at a hospital in Juarez.

Ciudad en cenizas, o cómo vivir una vida a lo gringa movie

I suspect our city
will soon be laid to ashes
Our island city
Rowing out over the river in the dark
They have divided. Eleni Sikelianos
EL PASO, Texas — Una sabe que las cosas no andan bien del otro lado cuando lee el periódico, lee las notas en Internet, escucha los helicópteros por las noches o los comentarios de queja, enojo o lamento en redes sociales como Twitter o Facebook. Una sabe que Ciudad Juárez lo está pasando realmente mal. Una, además, tiene el descaro de enterarse de todo esto desde la comodidad de su hogar en el otro lado, en El Paso. No es lo mismo, en efecto, que Una se duela de lo que ocurre más allá de la línea cuando se está aquí.

UTEP mourns two students shot to death in Juarez

EL PASO, Texas — The University of Texas at El Paso is mourning the death of two students who were gunned down in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico Tuesday evening after they crossed the border on their way home. The UTEP community was invited to a memorial service Monday at 2 p.m. to be held just outside of the College of Business Administration where Manuel Acosta Villalobos, 25, and Eder Diaz Sotero, 23, both studied.  The two students lived in Juarez and commuted to the El Paso campus to attend classes, university officials said. The two were driving at about 8 p.m. when gunmen fired 36 rounds at their car, hitting both men multiple times, Chihuahua state police said. Acosta died at the scene and Diaz at a Juarez hospital Wednesday morning. “Our hearts are heavy today with the news of the deaths of UTEP students Manuel Acosta and Eder Diaz.

Reservado – Un Juárez sutil

EL PASO, Texas — Seis actores locales y un número considerable de extras podrán formar parte del elenco de un cortometraje que se comenzará a rodar en El Paso el 15 de noviembre y cuyo casting comienza este viernes, informaron sus realizadores. La pieza cinematográfica, titulada “Reservado”, cuenta las peripecias, viscisitudes, concesiones morales que vive un mesero de Ciudad Juárez para reunir suficiente dinero y comprar la sortija de matrimonio para su novia. Tras ese pretexto aflora una verdad excepcional: las ganas de vivir, la pobreza, el amor, el miedo, los riesgos de un submundo rico en matices, dudas, sueños, así como el caudal cultural único de México. “Juárez y El Paso son una misma comunidad, rodaremos aquí porque queremos ofrecer un producto netamente paseño, además aquí hay talento genuinamente mexicano que podemos aprovechar”, dijo, el productor, Christian Moldes. Y agregó: “Nos resultará más cómodo por cuestiones propias de la producción, todo el equipo de trabajo vive aquí, así que optimizaremos tiempo, gastos, locaciones, todo”.

Doctors abandon their professions to flee Juarez

EL PASO, Texas — Dr. Graciela Ruiz’s office phone rang and her receptionist picked it up as usual, but this was not the usual call. The receptionist handed Ruiz the phone and a man’s voice that will terrify her forever roared at her — “I know who you are and where you work, live, and who your family is. If you don’t want to die I am going to need your f—ing money, b—-.”

That was the beginning of her personal terror in Juarez, Mexico. A few months later, Ruiz called her office to check in as she would every day before going to work and on the other end her receptionist’s fear resonated in her ear. “The secretary was crying and she told me not to go to the hospital.

Juarenses cross the border to celebrate “16 de Septiembre”

EL PASO, Texas — Thousands, including many who crossed the border from Juarez, gathered to celebrate “16 de Septiembre” — 200 years of Mexican independence from Spain — at San Jacinto Plaza in downtown El Paso. Festivities here drew more people than usual because public events in Juarez were curtailed due to the current drug-related violence there. Juarez residents were asked to celebrate at home with a televised ceremony. Others opted to celebrate in El Paso at Mexican Consulate sponsored festivities. “We came to celebrate because we heard a big party was going to take place,” said Juarez high school student Diana Mojarro, 17.

Juarez Violence Changing Lives: UTEP Students Affected

EL PASO, Texas — In May, 2010, UTEP student Alejandro Ruiz Salazar, 19—also an employee of the Graduate School—was the first known UTEP student slain in Juarez since the beginning of the current drug war. The same day, former UTEP student Jorge Pedro Gonzalez Quintero, 21, was murdered. According to Steve McCraw, Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, the situation in Mexico is worse now than the Colombian drug war of the 1980s and 1990s ever was. “Colombia was never threatened like the government of Mexico is with the level of violence,” McCraw stated at a Capitol hearing. “At first, we all saw the violence and murders as something that would never happen to us but now so many families have been torn apart, and a once prosperous, to some extent happy city, has been destroyed,” Acosta commented.

Exodus from Ciudad Juárez impacts El Paso economy

La Juárez vacía

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.

Research and Education Now Cross-connects Beyond Borders

EL PASO – The University of Texas at El Paso and other research and educational institutions across the U.S. have teamed up with universities in Mexico to make it easier and more affordable for them to access the state of the art Internet research capabilities available in the U.S.

The jointly constructed optical infrastructure between El Paso and Ciudad Juárez is called Cross Connect. “We have designed an innovative way for exchanging teaching and research information,” says UTEP Vice President for Information Resources and Planning, Dr. Stephen Riter. According to Dr. Riter, this started more than five years ago when UTEP used money from the National Science Foundation to begin a link of networks from El Paso to Ciudad Juárez. UTEP established a relationship with the Universidad Autonoma de Ciudad Juárez to help enhance research tools for students in Juárez. Students in Mexico now have the ability to use video conferencing and educational demos to boost their educational experience.

New Trend in Mexican Immigration Appears on the U.S. Border

By Billie Greenwood

Seeking safety by immigrating to the United States, thousands of Mexicans are fleeing the violence of Juárez. They represent a new trend in Mexican immigration. Making the most of legal immigration visas available to middle and upper economic classes, some may push those visas beyond legal usage. Recent estimates of the increased numbers of new immigrants in El Paso range from 5,000 to 60,000. It is clear to see why they flee.

En la frontera

EL PASO — Mucha gente me pregunta si me gusta vivir en El Paso. Lo hacen ya convencidos de que voy a decir que no. Piensan que me gustaría estar en otra ciudad, pero que bueh… caí acá. Después se sorprenden cuando digo que me encanta vivir en El Paso.