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Tijuana’s Mayor Takes Issue With State Department’s Tijuana Travel Warning

Aired 7/24/13 on KPBS News.

Mayor says much of Tijuana's crime is committed by people the U.S. deports to his city.

Tijuana's mayor is denouncing a travel alert the State Department issued this month warning Americans visiting Mexico, including Tijuana.

A view of Tijuana through the U.S. side of the border fence at Friendship Park.
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Above: A view of Tijuana through the U.S. side of the border fence at Friendship Park.

In media interviews recently, Mayor Carlos Bustamante has called on the State Department to remove Tijuana from a list of cities and states that travelers should be careful about or avoid altogether when traveling to Mexico.

The travel advisory warns travelers to exercise caution in Tijuana, and notes there were 278 homicides in the city between January and June.

However at a recent press conference, Tijuana's mayor had a message for the U.S.

"Tijuana does not deserve that alert, because you're causing it," he said.

He claimed much of the city's crime is committed by convicts that the U.S. has deported to Tijuana. Nonetheless he said police statistics have recorded a 25 percent overall reduction in crime since 2010.

Indeed, recent data compiled by university researchers shows that in 2012 Tijuana's homicide rate of 22 per 100,000 residents was lower than 9 major American cities, including New Orleans, Baltimore and Detroit.

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Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | July 24, 2013 at 9:24 a.m. ― 3 years, 8 months ago

In fairness to Mexico, the 9 major American cities with higher homicide rates should be on the travel alert, too.

Mexico's mayor is wrong stating the U.S. is causing the crime. The deportees are Mexican nationals (the persons the mayor refers too).

It is generally believed although U.S. gunmakers are not directly responsible for the violence south of the border (as well as in the U.S.), they are taking advantage of a situation where it pays to keep making weapons for law-abiding citizens as well as the drug cartel, murderers, and the syndicate.

The Mexican government bears the largest shame because not even Mexicans trust their government. I accept responsibility as an American for how we have allowed our constitution to be manipulated by those who want a gun in every home. America is the largest weapons exporter in the world and will continue to be so long as jobs are created.

But you (Mexico) can't go on blaming the U.S. for your problems. Even without the warning I would not travel down there again because of what I hear in the news and how bad it is from family living there. I used to go for lobster in Puerto Nuevo, camping on the beach in Rosarito. Never again.

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Avatar for user 'realtijuana_blogspot'

realtijuana_blogspot | July 30, 2013 at 11:15 a.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

Mayor Bustamante was referring to the early-release program that California prisons have been utilizing since the early 1990s whereby prisoners with Mexican citizenship are deported long before they have served out their sentences. Tijuana has been receiving on average a thousand of these felons every month: most have nowhere to go when they get here because they are unfamiliar with Tijuana and have little understanding of Mexican culture in general. Many do not even speak Spanish. They are easily recruited by the gangs that supply the world's most lucrative recreational-drug market.

It must be easy for Mr Street to look down his nose at these people because he has a citizenship that they do not. But they have been part of Mr Street's culture ever since they came across the border as infants and young children, accompanying their parents in their search for work in the agricultural fields. They have been Mr Street's neighbors most of their lives, but as an unprotected underclass earning less than minimum wage. They have made Mr Street's hamburgers and have cut his lawn for him. And, when they come to Tijuana, they are treated with racism and contempt for being more gringo than Mexican.

The proximate cause of the deportee problem is not the corrupt Mexican government, as Mr Street insists, nor even is it the corrupt U.S. government: in both cases, the term "government" is too vague to admit to analytical thought. Three specific hypocritical, cynical policies are the root of this problem.

Beginning with the administration of Carlos Salinas de Gortari, land has been systematically taken out of agricultural production and given over to international speculators, leaving hundreds of thousands of farmers without homes or jobs. These displaced farmers have "followed the crops" northward.

During times of economic prosperity, the U.S. has always been happy to receive Mexicans because they work cheap and don't complain. But the informality of the policy encourages widespread violation of human rights. With the advent of Reagan and Bush Daddy, we have seen a hardening of immigration policies by which undocumented workers now must endure not only bad pay and dangerous conditions but also outright slavery.

And then there is Prohibition II, now in its fourth decade of self-righteous doublethink. When the U.S. gave up its first Prohibition, its borders -- both with Mexico and with Canada -- became peaceful overnight. So what's the hold-up this time?


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Avatar for user 'realtijuana_blogspot'

realtijuana_blogspot | July 30, 2013 at 11:15 a.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago


Were Mexico's agricultural workers to have been able to stay on their farms, their children would not have turned into small-time hustlers on the streets of Pacoima. Were the U.S. to have created a functional "guest-worker" program when it had the chance to do so, there would not be four million people doing what they can to avoid deportation today. And, were both governments and their ruling class not so addicted to the income they derive from illegal drugs, those substances could be regulated like alcohol and so promote the general welfare rather than warfare.

The State Department really does need to improve its travel advisories. The methodology of the current advisories is irrational and their effect only encourages jingoistic bigotry. But real change can be effected only by going after the root causes. Policies that do not create the greatest good for the greatest number are undemocratic and should not be tolerated.

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