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

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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.

July 30, 2013 at 11:15 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

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

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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July 30, 2013 at 11:15 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

The Architect And The Opera Singer: A Tale Of Two Drug Mules

On one hand, it's important to take a broad view of smuggling if we are to avoid dismissing this as yet another problem exclusive to Mexico. We should bear in mind that, during the previous U.S. Prohibition, actors were given similar choices between plomo y plata (lead or silver) and yet those actors were typically members of the U.S.'s own law enforcement and judiciary. It's unlikely we'll ever know to what extent any particular actor was a victim and to what extent a volunteer. But we can be sure that the quandary presents itself wherever a vice is criminalized – it's not a cultural thing, it's just human nature.

On the other hand, the difference in Melchor's and Velázquez's sentences might have had more to do with who they are than with the difference in judicial venue. Melchor is a socially marginalized character while Velázquez is closely associated with the temporal and spiritual lords of Tijuana. The architect's public buildings are controversial because they are put up without public consensus and without competitive bidding. His masters want things to be that way. It is therefore entirely likely that his masters were moving behind the scenes to get him a reduced sentence. They need him back at work soon to break ground on their ghastly Zócalo project.

December 22, 2012 at 3:47 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Mexicans In US Make Less Money Than Any Other Immigrant Group

So that was really a Mexican heart surgeon who sold me a bag of oranges on College Boulevard? I swear he looked just like Paul Rodriguez.

BBVA (a transnational bank) issues these reports periodically because they receive millions of dollars as remittances, money sent from Mexicans in the United States to family in Mexico. Remittances are big business and, as such, these reports are meant to predict the future of this income.

Replogle says "The study authors speculate the quality of Mexico’s higher education may be lower than that of other regions." but there is nothing in the report that corroborates this interpretation. What the study really says is that Mexican immigrants take lower-paying jobs because they tend to be high-school drop-outs without immigration papers, such that remittances could be improved were these immigrants to have a higher level and higher quality of education. And yet there is no basis for such a conclusion inasmuch as the U.S. has traditionally employed unskilled labor from Mexico. (There is a political agenda in Mexico about increasing the educational budget that has nothing to do with these remittances. You have similar agendas in the United States because education is also Big Business in your part of the world.)

The study, at page 23, says "Conclusiones: Mayores niveles de escolaridad y con mayor calidad educativa en México, elementos clave para que los migrantes mexicanos sean mejor remunerados". There is similar language on page 33. That means "Conclusions: more years of schooling and an improved quality of education in Mexico are the key elements for Mexican immigrants to get better wages." All that for tomato-pickers and Jack-in-the-Box workers, right?

The quality of Mexico's higher education is not lower than that of the United States. We say this as a collective of fronterizos who have known the educational systems on both sides of the border and all of us agree that the educational system in Baja California is preferable to that of California at all levels. Seriously – and apologies if it sounds like we're doing the dozens – our doctors and dentists are more intelligent that your doctors and dentists. Spend an hour in conversation with one of ours and you will see the difference.

December 7, 2012 at 11:55 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

City As Blender: Tijuana's New Mix Of Music, Crowds, And Cultures

Welcome to the frontera, señorita Erin. Please learn a little about us before opining.

"Today, the city is emerging from hibernation." ¿Qué va, m'hija? The city has been going a todo dar since the 1920s. What we haven't seen lately has been tourism from the gringuitos and the chicanitos ever since they wet their chones from the so-called violence of 2004–7.

And how bad was that so-called violence? Well, the mayor lost some of his buddies from the Arellano-Félix cartel and the president managed to get rid of some inconvenient middle management for his buddy El Chapo Guzmán. But Tijuana's murder rate never got as high as that of comparable cities in the U.S. And it never took out innocent turistas like you, chiquita.

And that was all back before you got your first piercing or tattoo. ¡Chale!

November 28, 2012 at 2:48 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

U.S. Consul In Tijuana Says Daily Life Is More Than The Drug War

It is hard to believe that Kashkett's daughter spends any time waiting at the border. For at least forty years now the "right" people have always gone into the "right" lane, put on their left-hand blinker, and – wham, bam – welcome to the U.S. ma'am.

April 21, 2010 at 9:33 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

The Battle for Tijuana's Streets Continues

Here in Tijuana, the so-called Drug War reads like the Oceanian war in George Orwell’s 1984. It would be nice to get a little background on the origin of these rival CAF (Cártel Arellano Félix) factions, since the CAF was previously considered to be the most hermetic of the cartels. If there’s so much bad blood between Ingeniero Fernando and El Teo, why doesn’t Aunt Enedina step in and settle it? And didn’t the CAF outsource all of its wet-work several years ago when they went corporate? Then what’s El Teo doing in the gang still? If only the CAF would give a news conference or issue a press release instead of leaving us rely on CNN’s interpretations.

The most common interpretation on the street for the violence of late 2007 and early 2008 was that Jorge Hank was getting even with us for not letting him become governor. As to the increase in dead bodies at the end of 2008, The Real Tijuana has a source from inside the La Mesa prison during and after the riots of September 2008 who insists that no one will know how many people died in La Peni because not only those inmates who were murdered by the warden, Juan Antonio Ibarra Sánchez, but also half of all those killed during the riots (including the U.S. citizen convicted of raping a young boy) wound up in ditches and vacant lots disguised as drug killings.

Leyzaola is another of our confusing characters. Not only is he our bulletproof antidrug superhero, he also arrests people just for looking too poor. He will most likely be remembered for the latter; not even the Untouchables were able to keep the previous Prohibition from being repealed.

Ever since Nancy Reagan started the war on drugs, Tijuana police have been offered "plata o plomo" (silver or lead), the same as what Al Capone offered the Chicago police. The CAF became so entrenched in our municipal police force that a member of the Crossborder Group (a public relations firm hired by Tijuana's Tourist and Convention Bureau) admitted he saw the corruption as permanent. Imagine, then, just how much resistance Leyzaola will encounter as he attempts to remove the silver from the equation.

So bear with Tijuana as the body count rises and the sensationalists cry havoc. Both are now inevitable (unless this current Prohibition gets repealed suddenly). The ordinary citizens of Tijuana still lead a more peaceful, less stressful life than do their counterparts north of the border. And so far – touch wood – the CAF has killed fewer innocent bystanders than have U.S. high school students.

December 8, 2009 at 4:42 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

None

Assassinations always make for gruesome headlines. Let's put them in context. Here in Tijuana, whenever we hear detonations we still look to the sky first: we have not been disappointed yet to see fireworks celebrating something or other. This is the largest city on the West Coast and the drug-related conflicts occur generally in our suburbs.

Ever since Nancy Reagan declared war on drugs, Tijuana police have been offered "plata o plomo" (silver or lead), which is no different than what Al Capone offered the Chicago police. The Arrellano-Félix Cartel became so entrenched in our municipal police force that a member of the Crossborder Group (a public relations firm hired by Tijuana's Tourist and Convention Bureau) admitted he saw the situation as hopeless. Imagine, then, just how much resistance Leyzaola will encounter as he attempts to remove the silver from the equation.

So bear with Tijuana as the body count rises and the sensationalists cry havoc. Both are now inevitable (unless this current Prohibition gets repealed suddenly). The ordinary citizens of Tijuana still lead a more peaceful, less stressful life than do their counterparts north of the border. And so far – touch wood – the Arrellano-Félix Cartel has killed fewer innocent bystanders than have U.S. high school students.

December 5, 2009 at 12:05 p.m. ( | suggest removal )