The U.S. has invested more than $100 billion on border security over a seven-year period. (Sergio Chapa/

New economic opportunities on the U.S.-Mexico border amid the Drug War

Violence in Mexico has reached unprecedented levels, particularly since 2006 when former Mexican President Felipe Calderón declared a “war on drugs” and incorporated the military into the fight against transnational organized crime. Much of the violence, concentrated in the country’s northernmost border with the United States, has been accompanied by the widespread use of visceral, terror-inducing methods such as decapitation, dismemberment, mass kidnappings, public executions, car bombs, grenade attacks, and blockades. To date, Mexico’s drug war has “officially” claimed more than 70,000 lives, with an additional 27,000 disappearances linked to organized crime. In reality, the numbers are likely much higher, with some estimates placing the death toll at more than 100,000. At the same time, thousands of citizens have become internal refugees, displaced within Mexico or forced to move abroad.

cover A War That Cant Be Won

Mexico’s war on drugs continues on its faltering path

EL PASO – An estimated 30,000 Mexicans murdered or missing and widespread institutional corruption are just two aspects of a never-ending war on drugs that the Mexican government continues to fight. “The drug war is more than a justice issue, it is a social issue; a lot of words and not a lot of action,” said Jose Villalobos, assistant professor at the University of Texas at El Paso’s department of political science, speaking recently at UTEP about the Mexican drug war. Three other political science UTEP professors – Tony Payan, Kathleen Staudt, and Anthony Kruszewski collaborated with multiple scholars in the U.S. and Mexico to compile and publish A War that Can’t Be Won: Bi-national Perspectives on the War on Drugs, which looks into the history of the drug war. A War that Can’t Be Won includes contributions from scholars on both sides of the U.S-Mexico border, providing a unique perspective on the many dimensions of the crisis that has affected residents of both nations, particularly those who live and work in the borderlands. Payan said that organized crime in Mexico has many layers that include drugs and killings, but it is much more than that.

Mexican journalist Anabel Hernandez said that 'corruption' was the one single word that describes what is happening in Mexico. (Luis Hernández/

Mexican journalist blames the failure of the drug-war on corrupt and inept government policies on both sides of the border

EL PASO – Five unique and experienced voices were heard at the University of Texas at El Paso this week discussing the seemingly eternal drug war and the government policies that fuel it that has plagued the U.S.-Mexico border region in recent years. The participants included UTEP professor and author Dr. Howard Campbell, former DEA agent Gilberto Gonzalez, UTEP Communication professor Andrew Kennis, Mexican journalist Anabel Hernandez, and U.S. Representative Beto O’Rouke (D., El Paso). The event, called  “Drug Policy on the Border and Beyond: Dangers Facing Journalists, Obstacles Facing Policy Makers” organized by Kennis, added to the growing discussion by policy makers, law enforcement, public officials and journalists on how to end the war that has claimed thousands of lives in Mexico and led to increased anti-drug enforcement along the U.S. side of the border. Hernandez, an investigative journalist in Mexico who has done some of the best coverage of the drug war and published a book, Narcoland: The Mexican Drug Lords and their Godfathers, in English and Spanish, drew upon her extensive research to discuss the strong connections between the drug cartels and the Mexican government. She also spoke of the importance of the drug economy to the people of Mexico.

border patrol agent

Security gains in the border region seem tenuous at best according to a study by the Woodrow Wilson Center

WASHINGTON – Concerns about global terrorism, potential threats posed by those entering the United States illegally, and fears that skyrocketing violence in Mexico might spillover into the United States have led to dramatic policy shifts and significant efforts to secure the border. Yet gains in areas such as apprehensions of undocumented migrants and reductions in violence in key cities such as Ciudad Juarez seem tenuous at best and beg for more comprehensive, creative and collaborative solutions between these two countries, according to a report released by the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute. The U.S. and Mexican federal governments have made large investments in staffing, infrastructure and technology and have reorganized and refocused efforts to respond to specific threats and events according to the report by Eric L. Olson and Erik Lee, entitled The State of Security in the U.S.-Mexico Border Region. 

The working paper, which explores these challenges and some potential solutions, will be published in this fall as a chapter in the forthcoming State of the Border Report, which seeks to provide a comprehensive yet accessible look at the state of affairs in border management and the border region. The study will focus on four core areas: trade and economic development, security, sustainability, and quality of life. The State of the Border Report is an initiative of the Border Research Partnership, which is comprised of the, Arizona State University’s North American Center for Transborder Studies, and el Colegio de la Frontera Norte.

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.

The lights of Ciudad Juarez can be seen from the UTEP campus. (Danya Hernandez/

El Pasoans want their sister city to remain in the family

EL PASO – With an ongoing drug war on the other side of a 10-foot high fence, El Paso’s reputation has taken some hits recently, but locals see the Sun City’s image in a brighter light. “It’s incredibly sad what’s happening across the border,” said Sonya Stokes, senior psychology student at the University of Texas at El Paso. “I think it’s terrible that El Paso’s image has been tarnished by irresponsible comments that people in power have made and the media has made.”

Over the past year, El Paso has made national headlines for a number of reasons. In November 2010, the annual Congressional Quarterly Press City Crime Rankings announced that El Paso had the lowest crime rate of cities with a population of more than 500,000. In August 2011, an El Paso Times article said that El Paso officials were taking “the first steps toward ending its ‘sister city’ relationship with Juárez.” The story said that the city was surveying local business to get their insight on El Paso’s “safe” image with the constant violence occurring in their Mexican “sister city.”  The survey wanted to know if the violence in Mexico was “hurt(ing) El Paso economically by reducing its ability to draw businesses, conventions and conferences.” According to the article, “up to 41,000 surveys were sent to the business community.”

On Sept.

La Casa del Migrante alberga sufrimiento, ofrece esperanza

TIJUANA — Pasa la media noche y una camioneta blanca ahuyenta a los perros callejeros mientras se estaciona a dejar más migrantes que llegan cansados, hambrientos y otros hasta moribundos a la Casa del Migrante en Tijuana, Baja California. “Pedro” es un migrante que vivió por 14 años en Van Nuys, CA y prefirió guardar su identidad. Al tratar de regresar a California por Tecate, Baja California, con un grupo de ocho compañeros sus planes no fueron como planeaba. “Traían pistolas, inclusive me pusieron la pistola en la cabeza, una 3-57… ellos querían que dijera que yo era (el) guía y lo tuve que decir para que no me siguieran golpeando”, afirmó. Al intentar cruzar La Rumorosa, todos fueron secuestrados por un grupo de delincuentes.

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.

La muerte de la noticia: Muchas crónicas quedan sin publicar debido a los asesinatos de periodistas latinoamericanos

Análisis de Tyler Bridges

Read this story in English

Dos vehículos utilitarios interceptaron el automóvil de Valentín Valdés Espinosa en el centro de Saltillo, México. Unos matones armados obligaron al reportero de asignaciones generales de 29 años de edad a entrar en uno de los autos. Sucedió poco antes de la medianoche del 7 de enero de 2010. En los días precedentes, Valdés Espinosa había informado agresivamente sobre el arresto de varios narcotraficantes en esa ciudad norteña de México para su periódico, El Zócalo de Saltillo, y había cometido el pecado cardinal de identificarlos por nombre. En otro artículo, Valdés Espinosa había identificado a un agente policial que fue arrestado por estar en la nómina de los narcotraficantes.