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.
NOGALES, Ariz. — I remember what it was like all the days when I was ten, mi mama dijo, “Mijo vete a comprar unas tortillas.” So I walked out the door to the Morley Street garita, crossed the line and went to the tortillería. Regresé con una docena. One day, in 1973, mi tia Meli decided to get a job at department store right at the line on the American side. She went to the Morley Street garita and told the U.S. migra man, “I’m just going over to Bracker’s to ask for job.” He said, “OK, go ahead, they have all the papers you’ll need.”
In 1976 we walked from Nogales to Nogales from the movie theater at 12 o’clock at night.
EL PASO — Mexico and the U.S. are cooperating more than ever before on trade and immigration issues, but the North America Free Trade Agreement needs to be spruced up to deal with 21st Century problems.
Both countries and Canada have changed since 1994 when NAFTA was signed but the policies they agreed to have remained virtually static according to Andrés Rozental, former Mexican Deputy Foreign Minister and Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. “Today there is an unprecedented degree of cooperation between Mexico and the U.S.,” Rozental said, “They have a greater degree of trust, but people change and federal policies stay them same. “
The relationship is slowly evolving and filtering into three very important areas, trade, immigration and security, he said. Rozental, a career diplomat for Mexico, told faculty and students at the University of Texas at El Paso recently that even with the improved degree of collaboration between the U.S. and Mexico “there’s always more that can be done, especially on the trading issue.”
The “mutual finger pointing” of the past is the cause of today’s bilateral political problems, he said. Both countries are at fault, he said. “Mexico’s take has always been what I call the ostrich policy. They hid and it was the U.S.’s problem to solve,” Rozental said.
EL PASO — A team of experts sent by the Mexico Institute in Washington, D.C. spent three days interviewing persons in Juarez to see if a lack of cross-border cooperation between U.S. and Mexican government agencies hinders efforts to quell the out-of-control consumption of illegal narcotics by Americans and the drug-cartel wars in Mexico. Andrew Selee, director of the Institute and an adjunct professor of government at John Hopkins University said the drug violence goes beyond the normal definitions of terrorism. “Seeing how some of these murders have played out in recent years has made us pay close attention to the growing violence along the borderland.”
The group of 16 scholars spent three days in February interviewing various Juarez officials including the Aduana, military commanders, the different levels of law enforcement, and others to get a real sense of how to combat the organized crime that plagues the borderland. “We recognize that the problem [bilateral cooperation] is not just in one part of the borderland, but all across it,” Selee said. The group has traveled to various drug violence hot spots such as Tijuana/San Diego, San Luis Potosi, and to El Paso/Juarez.