Half a Ton of Marijuana Found in Coconuts at U.S.-Mexico Border

5/13/2016 NBC News 

drugsMore than 1,400 pounds of marijuana was found hidden inside fresh coconuts at the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas, Customs and Border Protection said Thursday.

A total of 2,486 packages of alleged marijuana were concealed inside the coconuts, which were part of a commercial shipment inside a tractor-trailer traveling from Mexico to the United States, theCBP said in a statement.

The drug was discovered Monday at the Pharr International Bridge cargo facility near Hidalgo, with the help of a canine team. The shipment was referred for a scan known as a “non-intrusive imaging inspection.”

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 These Haunting Photos Show the Deadly Absurdity of the US-Mexico Border Wall

5/11/2016 The Nation 

A small fence separates densely populated Tijuana, Mexico, right, from the United States in the Border Patrol’s San Diego Sector.  Construction is underway to extend a secondary fence over the top of this hill and eventually to the Pacific Ocean.
A small fence separates densely populated Tijuana, Mexico, right, from the United States in the Border Patrol’s San Diego Sector. Construction is underway to extend a secondary fence over the top of this hill and eventually to the Pacific Ocean.

The “wall” along the US-Mexico border has always been more a weapon than a barricade. Since the implementation of Border Patrol’sPrevention through Deterrence program in the mid 1990s—which built up the wall in urban areas to force border crossers into ever more remote and deadly terrain—the effort to stop or control migration across the US-Mexico border has proven to be as patently absurd as it is murderous.

The results—the death and disappearance of thousands of border crossers—are not surprising. In fact, the tragedy was part of the plan—the harrowing experience of crossing the desert was meant to deter further attempts at migration. Instead, with the locking in of free-trade economics, climate change, and abusive US-backed regimes in Mexico and Central America, migrants have not stopped moving north in search of asylum and economic security. Today’s hysterical cries to build a wall across nearly 2,000 miles of treacherous and varied terrain—cleaving through communities, cutting into ecosystems, and severing traditional lands—is as inhumane as it is impossible. But while a 2,000-mile “wall” as a functional barricade is delusion, an increasingly militarized zone with sprouting segments of easily traversable fencing (there are now approximately 700 miles in place) however, is the deadly reality.

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Op-Ed | Getting North America Right

5/9/2016 Mexico Institute blog, Forbes.com

By Earl Anthony Wayne, Public Policy Fellow, Wilson Center

nafta (2)When the leaders of Canada, Mexico and the United States meet on June 29 for a North American Leaders Summit (NALS), they will have two big tasks: 1) to explain clearly why cooperation between the three countries is of great value; and 2) to give clear directions to their officials to do the hard technical work so that cooperation produces solid results for economic growth and competitiveness, for mutual security, for the shared continental environment, and for international cooperation where we can do more together than individually.

Since Mexico hosted the last so-called “Three Amigos” Summit in 2014, the tone in the U.S. domestic political debate has turned very critical of cooperation across the continent, whereas the actual collaboration and mutual understanding between the governments has improved.  The potential to help make all three countries more competitive in the world and to become a model for regional cooperation has increased, even as the electoral campaign attacks on the relationship with the United States’ two top export markets sharpened starkly.

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The Growing Movement for a U.S.-Mexico Border Bike Lane

5/6/2016 The Atlantic City Lab 

San Ysidro Border Crossing by Flickr user otzbergAs the crossing at San Ysidro-Tijuana undergoes a major expansion, advocates are pushing for more cycling infrastructure throughout the border zone.

Each morning, denizens of the San Diego-Tijuana border area turn on their radios to get the news like everyone else around the country. But along with the weather forecast (most likely sunny and 75 degrees), sports scores, and top headlines, listeners also hear the wait times at the border.

For the workers and students who live south of the border and regularly travel to the U.S., and those in the U.S. who often conduct business in and around Tijuana, it is an essential piece of information.

The San Ysidro Port of Entry is the busiest border crossing in the Western Hemisphere, with approximately 50,000 cars and 25,000 pedestrians coming through daily in the northbound direction alone. Vehicle wait times can stretch to three or four hours, and even pedestrians frequently have to spend more than an hour in line.

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How Mexican journalists are reporting in secret on drug cartels

5/5/2016 The Guardian 

Latitudes Press.How is it possible to report in a country regarded as one of the most dangerous places for a journalist to operate? Answer: do it secretly; do it online; and do it remotely.

According to a Christian Science Monitor article, a Mexican reporter called AJ Espinoza worked out this safe way of working some two years ago.

He teamed up with a US-based reporter in order to write stories he thinks fellow Mexicans should read. But they appear in a US-based outlet rather than his local newspaper.

In that way, he can safely report on the activities of the drug cartels that plague the Mexico-US border region where he operates. Espinoza is quoted as saying: “No one else needs to know that I’m doing this.”

He formed a partnership with Ildefonso Ortiz, a reporter for Breitbart along the Texas-Mexico border, who says that people who don’t live in the region find it “hard to grasp that in cities like Matamoros or Reynosa, organised crime has complete control [over the media]”.

Celeste González de Bustamante, an associate professor at Arizona university who studies the effects of violence on journalism, says:

“Newsrooms started waiting for the green light to publish. But the green or red light wasn’t coming from the owner of the paper or managers, but from members of organised crime.” Editors “have to answer to two bosses: the publishers and the cartels.”

Presidential Campaigns Make U.S./Mexico Benefits Invisible

4/30/2016 The Huffington Post 

us mex flagMuch has been said during the 2016 presidential race about the need for a wall on the U.S./Mexico border, the asserted perils of the North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the crimes attributed to undocumented immigrants. These opinions are formed primarily by candidates with little personal connection to the U.S./Mexico border. John Kasich, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders are all northeasterners (Ohio, New York, and Vermont). Only Ted Cruz from Texas comes from a state on the border.

These distant perspectives make the benefits of the U.S./Mexico relationship essentially invisible to the public because the dialogue has been skewed by politics and limited or erroneous facts, creating a public reaction detrimental to the growing and mutually-beneficial economic ties between the two countries.

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At one border park, separated immigrant families hug across a steel divide

5/2/16 The Washington Post 

Mexican-American_border_at_NogalesSAN DIEGO — Gabriela Esparza has a standing date on most Saturdays to talk to her mother, on a schedule that never changes. She drives down Interstate 5 and turns off into a sprawling wildlife habitat bounded by the beach and Pacific Ocean and an 18-foot galvanized metal fence that stretches as far as she can see.

She makes her way toward a small yard surrounded by steel mesh and waits until 10 a.m., when a U.S. Border Patrol agent opens a heavy gate. Her mother is on the other side, in Tijuana, Mexico, waiting to see her daughter through the checkered grate, perhaps to touch her fingertips. They stay as long as they can, until another family needs a turn or the agent in charge warns, “five more minutes,” and the gate is locked shut at 2 p.m.

This pen is Friendship Park, the only federally established binational meeting place along the 2,000-mile border between the United States and Mexico. For seven years, this meeting through the mesh was as close as Esparza, 23, could get to her mother and sister.

This weekend was different. Esparza and her 2-year-old son, Leonel, stood in line Saturday with others chosen to participate in a celebration of Children’s Day in Mexico. For only the third time, the emergency door on this portion of the border fence would open, and five families would have three minutes each to embrace.

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