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Experts talk about Tijuana attacks

 August 22, 2022 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Monday, August 22nd.

Experts on Mexican cartels explain the reasons behind recent Tijuanna attacks. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


California health officials say they hope the number of monkeypox cases will start leveling off or even go down.

As of Friday, there are 192 cases in San Diego County..

State Public Health officer Dr. Thomas Aragon explains new guidance issued for those with monkeypox who develop rashes or lesions.

“If they can cover up the lesions completely, the lesions have stopped increasing for 48 hours, they don’t have a fever, they’re feeling well and they’re completely covered up — then they can resume normal activities.”

Monkeypox spreads through close contact with rashes or lesions, including intimate contact.


San Diego County's unemployment rate decreased to 3-point-1-percent last month.

That’s according to the latest numbers by the state Employment Development Department.

The E-D-D says leisure and hospitality led all industries in month-over job gains.

The new unemployment rate is half of what it was just a year ago.


An El Cajon man was convicted by a federal jury Friday for his part in the January 6th riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Erik Herrera was found guilty by a jury of one felony and four misdemeanors for joining the mob that entered the Capitol.

The Department of Justice said that although he is a photographer, he was not in the Capitol as a credentialed journalist.

At least three other San Diego residents were arrested for crimes related to January 6th.

Herrera will be sentenced this fall.


From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need.


Just over a week ago, a drug cartel launched a campaign of terror in Tijuana – vehicles were set ablaze and gunmen blocked major thoroughfares.

KPBS border reporter Gustavo Solis talked to experts about the reasons behind the attacks.

To comprehend what’s happening now, you need to understand the history of the Mexican cartels. It begins in the 1970s with the Guadalajara Cartel. Professor David Shirk is director of the Justice in Mexico program at the University of San Diego. He says the Guadalajara Cartel had sole control of drug trafficking in Mexico until they killed a DEA agent. That’s when the U.S. pressured Mexican leaders  to go after them. DavidShirk  “In the aftermath, the Guadalajara Cartel split into three different criminal organizations that controlled different territories in Mexico. The Arellano-Felix family controlled the city of Tijuana. “The Arellano-Felix family controlled Tijuana until the Sinaloa Cartel challenged them in the mid-to-late 2000s. That fight for Tijuana resulted in some of the deadliest years in the city’s history. When one cartel controls a city, there is relative peace. But violence increases when rival groups challenge that dominance. That seems to be what’s happening in Tijuana right now. Shirk says Tijuana’s recent violence is linked to a fight between the Sinaloa Cartel and a rival organization known as Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion. DavidShirk “There’s the local story, I think, about the changing dynamics of security in Tijuana. There’s also a larger story about the New Generation Cartel that has been really for the last several years trying to assert itself as Mexico’s new dominant cartel.” Who is this new organization? Vanda Felbab-Brown studies organized crime for the Brookings Institution. She is currently writing a book about Mexican drug cartels. She agrees we’re experiencing a repeat of what happened in the 2000s when the Sinaloar Cartel took control from the Arellano-Felix organization. But there’s one big difference. The Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion is much more violent. Vanda “The latest escalation is not just a repeat of the mid 2000s but in some ways even more dramatic than the mid 2000 because of the new factor that is Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion, which has embraced what the Zetas did previously. It tries to rule through brutality. It tries to be more brutal than anyone else and its standard modus operandi is resorting to very dramatic very brazen violence.” Sinaloa Cartel is no stranger to violence. But its leaders prefer to work behind the scenes. They try to buy off politicians and offer food and social programs to poor communities. Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion doesn’t appear interested in such niceties. They use social media and violent public spectacles to terrorize communities into submission.  Vanda  “... Life tends to be much more brutal, much more difficult under Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion’s rule.” Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador visited Tijuana Friday. He downplayed the violence and said the military is taking care of the issue. Right now, there are 3,000 members of the Mexican National Guard patrolling Tijuana. Yet, every expert KPBS spoke with said the current wave of violence is the direct result of the Mexican government’s overreliance on the military to confront organized crime. Cecilia Farfan-Mendez is the co-founder of the Mexico Violence Resource Project. She says Mexico’s security strategy is clearly not working. CeciliaFarfan “I think events like, not only Tijuana, but in terms of thinking what does this mean – this means that the state increasingly looks weaker in relation to criminal groups.” Stephanie Brewer is Director for Mexico at the Washington Office on Latin America. She also says doubling down on militarization is a mistake. StephanieBrewer “Unfortunately, what we have seen over the past really 10 15 years is a lot of repetition of the same go-to strategies which consist largely of military deployment and we saw again in this last couple of days.” She says there is no evidence that the strategy works. StephanieBrewer “The data do not show any kind of significant positive impacts of military deployment and the country continues to face extremely high levels of impunity.” So what’s the takeaway? Was last week’s violence a sign of more to come, or just a flash? Shirk and the other experts aren’t sure. They have no way of knowing. And that’s by design. DavidShirk “As is so often the case, what’s going on in this criminal underworld, in the shadows here, is impossible for us to really know what’s going on because it’s like shadow puppetry. So you think you’re seeing something you think you understand what’s going on and you have any way to confirm.” Yet, a couple of things are clear. As long as rival cartels are fighting for control of Tijuana, we should expect the violence to continue until one comes out on top. And even then, it won’t be a lasting peace. Again, Felbab-Brown from Brookings. “Eventually, presumably one of the criminal groups or a coalition could win. But we will perpetually … perpetually be in situations where any quote unquote peace there is, is really just a narco-peace. It’s a peace that is totally at the discretion of the criminal groups. It is not because the state has developed effective policies.” Gustavo Solis, KPBS News

While experts criticize Mexico’s president for his handling of cartel violence, he stuck to his message during a visit to Tijuana on Friday.

KPBS reporter Kitty Alvarado has details.

Nos da mucho gusto estar mucho gusto estar mucho gusto estar en Tijuana  We are very happy to be in Tijuana in Baja California Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador or AMLO opened his Friday news conference in Tijuana with a lot of compliments, support and love for the people of Baja California… But it didn’t take long for him to talk about last weekend’s wave of crime throughout the border state.No esta sola, el gobierno federal la va apoyar siempre ahora que se presentaron estos hechos lamentables She is not alone, the federal government will always support her now that these unfortunate events have occurred While he offered support to the governor of Baja California, and touted progress on crime, his matter of fact tone and policy towards organized crime… called “hugs not bullets”... didn’t waiver. Vicente Calderon, of Tijuana press dot com as been covering the border city for over three decades. He said this was a missed opportunity I was disappointed because he basically said the same thing … You don’t see many people confident  on the hugs not bullets policy is working against organized crime Kitty Alvarado KPBS News


A West Virginia Senator is holding up a money transfer that would allow federal officials to build the infrastructure needed to fix the region’s sewage flow problem.

KPBS Environment reporter Erik Anderson has details.

It was just supposed to be a technicality.  The U.S. Canada and Mexico free trade deal gave the Environmental Protection Agency 300 million dollars to help fix San Diego’s border sewage problems.  The EPA doesn’t typically build infrastructure so they want to give the money to another federal agency that does, the International Boundary and Water Commission. But the money transfer requires congressional approval, something that’s happened in the House of Representatives. Juan Vargas, (D) 51st District. “It’s in the Senate’s hands and I don’t know why they don’t just push it through quickly.” Vargas says the Republican who chairs the congressional committee overseeing the EPA doesn’t like the idea of spending U.S. dollars in Mexico. “Senator Shelley Capito, who’s not in favor of this, and it’s problematic when she says it has to go through her committee, and when it goes to her committee, she kills it.” Congressman Mike Levin appealed to Capito directly earlier this month, sending her a letter asking for her to allow the transfer. He says the San Diego region is suffering from ongoing sewage spills and moving the money is critical. Martha Guzman, EPA Region 9 “Under this administration, we’re going to move forward.” Martha Guzman is the regional EPA administrator.  She says planning work on the comprehensive solution continues, as local officials push for that congressional approval. “We’ve already done it through our existing authorities to continue with the planning, the feasibility planning. We’re going to have that engineering done.” Last week, Mexico pledged to invest 144 million dollars on sewage system repairs in Tijuana. All told, there’s 470-million dollars available.  Congressional democrats may try to include the money transfer in an omnibus spending bill that won’t require approval from the senate committee that oversees the EPA.  When that will happen is unclear. Erik Anderson KPBS News


Supporters of Friendship Park say a stakeholder summit will be held next month… to gather community input for the design of Friendship Park.

The summit comes after Customs and Border Patrol put a pause on construction that included two 30-foot tall walls to the binational park.

Here is John Fanestil with Friends of Friendship Park.

“CBP commissioner Chris Magnus said the purpose of the pause was to engage in conversation with the community, well we’re convening the community.”

The stakeholder summit will be held on September 9th and 10th.

C-B-P officials have not confirmed if they will attend the summit.


Coming up.... Billions of dollars going towards new statewide efforts on mental health support for youth. We’ll have that story and more, after the break.


Governor Gavin Newsom has announced a 4-point-7 billion dollar effort to increase access to mental health support services for young people in California.

KPBS reporter Jacob Aere says The “Master Plan for Kids’ Mental Health” is aimed at helping kids and other Californians up to age 25.

The plan includes training for 40,000 behavioral health professionals, creating an online platform for mental health assessment and intervention, and a suicide prevention program. Dr. Ben Maxwell is the interim director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego. “We know how to make this a better situation. Early identification, early treatment, prevention – we know these work. This gives us the opportunity to put some of those in place here in San Diego County.” The plan also calls for doubling the number of school counselors … with the incentive of helping to pay for their education, according to Newsom. Jacob Aere, KPBS News.


San Diego's Independent Budget Analyst is out with new reports on the costs of four local measures appearing on the November ballot.

KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen takes a closer look at one of them.

AB: Measure B would repeal the People's Ordinance — a century-old law that prohibits San Diego from charging trash collection fees to single-family homes. That means many homeowners get free trash pickup while people in apartments have to pay. Measure B would not impose trash pickup fees on its own. That would require a years-long study. But the report released last week estimates monthly fees could range from 23 to 29 dollars. Charging those fees could free up some 60 million dollars for the city to spend on public safety, parks, libraries and other needs. Andrew Bowen, KPBS news.


Leaders from the City of San Diego and from San Diego State cut the ribbon at Snapdragon Stadium Friday afternoon.

But the new 35-thousand seat stadium won’t open to the public until September third… the day the Aztecs will play their first game in their new home.

Friday afternoon, members of the media were given a sneak peek at the new facility.

It includes a series of suites called the Founder’s suites.

Associate Director of Athletics Derek Grice described some of the perks in the Founder’s suites.

“At this level, guests get all inclusive, so all food beverage at every event in the building with some limited carve outs.”

The Founder’s Suites require a 15-year commitment and they cost three-and-a-quarter million dollars.


Digital Gym Cinema may be small but it’s trying to bring as many independent films to San Diego as it can fit into its 56-seat venue.

KPBS film critic Beth Accomando says Costa Brava, Lebanon is worth checking out at the micro cinema in East Village.

"Costa Brava, Lebanon" is set in what the film calls "a near future." But it’s a future very much like the present day but just far enough off to allow for an allegorical distance. The Badri family has fled the toxic pollution and political unrest of Beirut and is living off the grid in the mountains. But then a new landfill starts dumping trash on their idyllic doorstep. I wish I knew more about Lebanese politics and culture because I feel I would see more layers in this allegorical tale. Nonetheless, there  are clear universal themes to be found about corrupt governments and lying politicians as well as how people react to a homeland that they love but are also critical of. The film succeeds best in depicting intimate family dynamics. The landfill is not just a metaphor for a rotting political system but also the catalyst to reveal decay within the family as members react differently to the world around them. "Costa Brava, Lebanon" marks a promising feature directing debut of actress Mounia Akl. Beth Accomando, KPBS News.


That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

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Experts on Mexican cartels explain the reasons behind the recent Tijuana attacks. In other news, California is spending billions on mental health support for young people. Plus, San Diego's Independent Budget Analyst is out with new reports on the costs of four local measures on the November ballot.