On Mexico’s southern border, migrants seek to survive one day at a time

Stacey Wilson-Forsberg, Wilfrid Laurier University and Iván Francisco Porraz Gómez, ECOSUR

The day we arrive in Ciudad Hidalgo, Chiapas, the southern Mexican state that borders Guatemala, all is quiet. A violent confrontation had occurred just the day before: Central American migrants, mostly from Honduras, had thrown rocks at Mexican migration officials who attempted to stop their entry into Mexico over the international bridge. Many of the migrants hope their final destination will be a better life in the United States. As we approach the town, we chance upon a small caravan of about 30 men, women and children walking along the road in the scorching sun. They are in rough shape and we decide not to take photos today.

Young people adapt to changing life in a U.S., Mexico borderplex

By Billy Cruz, Youth Radio

Along the dry, rocky desert of El Paso, Texas–past all the food chains and shopping malls–a brown fence stretches for miles. The fence marks the southern U.S. border that separates El Paso from its Mexican sister city, Juarez. Antonio Villaseñor-Baca is 22-years-old and was born and raised in El Paso. His hometown is a huge “borderplex” that spans the Rio Grande River. Antonio has an uncle in Juarez, and while growing up, his dad would take him back and forth a lot.

What is life really like in a Texas border city?

Life in a border city can be like a relationship status on social media. It’s complicated. More than 1 million people live in the El Paso-southern New Mexico region. Another 1.3 million live across the border in Juarez, Mexico. We are separated by an international boundary set along the path of a formerly meandering river.

Violence, beauty of Mexico influencing emerging border artists

EL PASO – As a child at the beginning of the new millennium, Ana Carolina’s city was notorious as a place where hundreds of women went missing. Now a student at UT El Paso, the theme of empowering women is at the core of many of Carolina’s works. For Carolina and other young artists from Ciudad Juarez, art has become a way to process and escape from the ugly reality of the drug wars and other violence that surrounded them growing up. “The disappearance of so many young women is something that really characterized Ciudad Juarez, so I think that really influenced my art a lot,” Carolina said. “I draw women and something that represents them is that they are all facing forward and looking straight at you. My women are strong; we are not just a symbol of sexuality or sensuality in the arts.” 

 Carolina also uses her art to express the cultural beauty that characterizes this region where Mexico and Texas connect.

Juarez has become a limbo for Central American migrants who decided to delay plans to cross into U.S

By Veronica Martinez

For years Casa del Migrante, a shelter in Ciudad Juarez, has been a haven and a crossing point for immigrants coming from the south, but the uncertainty of new immigration policies under the Trump presidency is convincing some of them to remain at the border indefinitely. In 2015  the shelter received 5,600 immigrants. Last year the number increased to more than 9,000, officials said. Ana Lizeth Bonilla, 28, sways back a stroller back and forth watching her two year-old son, Jose Luis, as he sleeps. “Now, we’re just waiting for her,” the pregnant woman says as her arm rests on her baby bump.

Pope Francis’ compassion encourages gay Catholics to celebrate his presence on the border

One El Pasoan who is super excited by Pope Francis’ visit this week to Juarez, is 19-year-old UTEP student Gilbert Lopez, a practicing Catholic who is gay. He credits this pope and his compassionate words and attitude toward homosexuals for motivating him to come out as a gay teenager. “When I was not accepting of my sexuality, when I would come in contact with homosexuals, it was either you’re religious or you’re not,” said Lopez, who considers himself a devout Catholic and is a member of his church choir. “A lot of times people who are homosexual aren’t religious because of the way people talk about it. They get discouraged,” he said.

Con unidad, apoyo y esfuerzo logra realizar su sueño en el Segundo Barrio

EL PASO — La dedicación y el esfuerzo es una de las muchas características que como comunidad, el Segundo Barrio posee. Un claro ejemplo de esto es Adriana Sifuentes, que como muchos otros latinos, decidió superarse a base de una entrega total para alcanzar una de sus principales metas en la vida, que era abrir un salón de belleza. Después de vivir en una rutina diaria por largos años y de sentir como si el tiempo se escapara, Sifuentes sin buscarlo, recibió la oferta que cambio gran parte de su vida. Abrir su propio negocio en 600 Park dentro de la comunidad del Segundo Barrio. ‘’La experiencia ha sido muy diferente a la anterior que trabajaba para alguien, estamos muy contentas la gente es muy linda, es muy sencilla y muy amable, se han portado muy bien aquí con nosotros…gracias a Dios nos ha ido muy bien y esperemos que así siga‘’, dijo Sifuentes, quien esta contenta en donde trabaja.

Ancient inspiration reshaped destiny for tiny town of Mexico artisans

EL PASO — Searching all over the northern parts of Mexico in 1976 for the origin of some pottery he found at a second hand store in Deming, NM, Spencer MacCallum came to a town just about three blocks long, on the verge of extinction. The anthropologist found Juan Quezada, the artisan who made the pots, there in Mata Ortiz, Chihuahua, and together they would help not only revive the town, but the art form as well. El Paso got a taste of what has been called the miracle of Mata Ortiz when the Consulate General of Mexico here honored MacCallum with the Ohtli Award on May 5 in recognition of his role in helping gain international recognition for the Mata Ortiz artisans and their work. The reception marked the opening of an exhibit of Mata Ortiz pottery at the consulate at 910 E. San Antonio Ave. “The Miracle of Mata Ortiz has been something special, enormous, grand.

Families of missing Mexican students travel U.S. to find support for justice

EL PASO — Blanca Luz Nava Vélez gripped the tissue with both hands as if it were about to float away from the tears forming in her eyes as she forced herself to speak through the shake in her voice to say that even if the world were to end she will find her missing son Jorge and the 42 other students kidnapped in Ayotzinapa, Mexico, on September 26. “When I am at home, I want to die,” she said. “I feel like dying because I see the items that belong to my son, his guitar and I would go mad. That’s why I am doing something about what happened.”

Speaking at a forum at the University of Texas at El Paso, March 17, she said she finds comfort and consolation when she gathers with the other families who are trying to find their missing sons. Being with the families and staying at her son’s school is better than being home, she said.