Archive for February 2009
From Time Magazine:
Behind the Troop Surge at the U.S.-Mexico Border
The ebbing stretch of Rio Grande that divides the Texas city of El Paso from the Mexican city of Juarez may soon become one of the world’s most militarized borders. This week, as Texas Governor Rick Perry went to El Paso to announce that has asked Washington for 1,000 more “boots on the ground” to enforce the border, Mexico’s government ordered 5,000 extra soldiers to Juarez. The armies massing on both sides of the border are marching against a common foe — drug cartels — and the coming months will be a crucial test as to whether they can effectively work together to fight it.
From the NY Times the story starts with Juarez Mayor José Reyes Ferriz talking tough about the cartels, even as they force the resignation of the city’s police chief, but ends on a hopeful note):
With Deadly Persistence, Mexican Drug Cartels Get Their Way
“There’s no square inch of the city that has been untouched by the violence,” said Lucinda Vargas, an economist who works by day to remake the city as executive director of Juárez Strategic Plan, but retreats to El Paso at night. “There’s a lot of evidence that Juárez, in a micro sense, is becoming a failed state. But I still think we haven’t failed yet and that we could still rescue ourselves.”
From the LA Times:
Border drug war is too close for comfort
Tiny Columbus, N.M., a haven for baby boomer retirees seeking cheap living, small-town values and solitude, can’t quite believe that a bloody brawl has broken out on its doorstep.
Columbus, a settlement of 1,800 people clinging to a wind-swept patch of high desert in southern New Mexico, was a picture of tranquillity.
But less than three miles south, in the once-quaint Mexican town of Palomas, a war is being waged. Over the last year, a drug feud that has killed more than 1,350 people in sprawling Ciudad Juarez has spread to tiny Palomas, 70 miles west, where more than 40 people have been gunned down, a dozen within a baseball toss of the border. More — no one knows how many — have been kidnapped, and the Palomas police chief fled across the border last year and has asked for political asylum.
A news release last week (Feb. 24, 2009) described a $2.25 million settlement with El Paso’s Western Refining over a ruling that Bloomfield and Gallup refineries violated federal and state air pollution rules in 2005. The release noted that Western acquired the refineries from Giant in 2007, leaving it unclear if Western was part of the 2005 ruling or whether it “inherited” the ruling when it acquired the refineries in 2007. A Western spokesman said it was the latter. For the news release, follow the jump.
Check out NPT’s new weekly feature, Capitol Round-up. This week, The feds fund, Dutton disses, Pollsters provoke and Berman’s bi-lingual, while everyone has something to say when it comes to Mexico. Here’s a sneak peak:
– Scene of the week: the live sonogram at the capitol: During a press conference in support of SB 182, which would require any woman seeking an abortion, to first have the opportunity to hear the heartbeat and see an ultrasound image of the fetus, organizers included a pregnant women undergoing a live sonogram, which was projected on a pull down screen adjacent to the speakers. [link]
– Busy week for: Gov. Perry. He was in Washington on Monday meeting with the President. He flew back to Austin in order to speak at a pro-life rally at the capitol on Tuesday, got on a plane and was speaking in El Paso by mid-afternoon, and was back in Austin to speak at two different events on Wednesday.
– Weird moment: Leo Berman. The Tyler state rep, when asked if there should be an amnesty for illegal immigrants in Texas, repeatedly punctured his response with the word “why” and even switched it up asking “por que.” Listen below.
– Question of the week: Will Dunnam’s Select Committee tour come to El Paso?
Press release from the office of state Rep. Marisa Marquez. The resolution was co-authored by three other El Paso House members. El Paso has five total House members. Former state Rep. Paul Moreno was not there.
Follow the jump to see the news release.
Not the most Earth-shaking info, but here’s a little game of dots. You feel free to connect them. We’re just laying them out.
County Judge Anthony Cobos is selling a home he has in Sunset Heights. The Realtor for the property is Brian Burds, a candidate running against city Rep. Melina Castro for the District 4 seat. The ‘for sale’ sign is from County Commissioner Dan Haggerty’s Century 21. While District 3 candidate and former city Rep. Alexandro Lozano says he isn’t partners with Cobos on the home, he said he did help Cobos with some contracting issues involving the home.
It’s a beautiful place, by the way.
NPT: Universities warn Spring Breakers; UTEP, with friends in Juarez, reminds students and faculty to be cautious
An email from UTEP, focused on students and faculty who work with counterparts in Juarez. Further down, spring breakers are warned.
The following is a special campus UTEP announcement approved by the President’s Office
Subject: Mexico Travel, Message Sent: 2/26/2009 1:57:15 PM
A new travel alert for Mexico has been issued by the Department of State. Below please find President Natalicio’s October 15th memo on travel to Mexico along with the most recently issued travel alert.
TO: UTEP Faculty, Staff and Students
FROM: Diana Natalicio, President
SUBJECT: Mexico travel
The University of Texas at El Paso has enjoyed a long and multi-faceted set of relationships with institutions and individuals in Mexico, particularly in Ciudad Juárez and the State of Chihuahua. It has been enormously satisfying to see these relationships grow successfully in both breadth and depth during the past several years, as they have involved an increasing number of UTEP students, faculty and staff in a widening range of collaborative activities and programs. Such collaborations are consistent with UTEP’s mission and with the opportunities presented to us by our unique U.S.-Mexico border location, and we are confident that they will continue to grow and prosper in the years ahead.
Despite all of this good news, however, we must also recognize that current conditions in Mexico, and particularly in Ciudad Juárez, require us to take special precautions to ensure the safety and well being of UTEP students, faculty and staff members who participate in UTEP programs and activities in Mexico. As context, I attach for your information an advisory issued by the U.S. State Department and transmitted to us by U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Antonio Garza.
TXDOT looks set to hand El Paso a $75m portion of it’s own $1.5bn stimulus purse. Speaking to NPT earlier this week, state Rep Norma Chavez, D-El Paso, while welcoming these funds, was quick to point out the possibility of more…much more that could come the Sun city’s way.
“There is more to the stimulus billions than TXDoT funds. There are workforce dollars, human services dollars…(and so on),” said Chavez, who sits on the Appropriations Stimulus Subcommittee, which she claims will make most of the decisions on the monies that go to the state (above and in addition to TxDoT and MPO’s). Chavez spoke energetically about the subcommittee, and the Select Stimulus Committee headed by Jim Dunnum, D-Waco.
“When Chair Dunnum finishes with his hearings, he will make legislative recommendations to our committee…Their committee will make recommendations on legislative changes that need to be made, for example for workforce funds, we get $30m, but if we make some legislative tweaks we get $230m more,” said Chavez.
That’s just workforce funds. Over $500m could be pulled down if Texas changed its laws on unemployment benefit according to the Statesman. Also there could be a windfall of matching funds ($5 from the feds for every 2$ Texas puts up) available if the state expanded CHIP coverage to 300% of the federal poverty level (from it’s present level of 200%) Chavez, who sits on Appropriations, Calendars and now the Stimulus subcommittee, is in a good position to help maximize the federal funds available to El Paso through the expansion of state programs as well as one-time fund drops like the TXDOT money.
“I am appreciative of the opportunity to serve on this committee that will deal with billions of federal dollars to the states,” said Chavez
State Rep Joe Moody released his third minute from the Capitol audio spot this week. El Paso days, where members of the chamber of commerce, local elected officials and lobbyists came to Austin to meet with the powers-that-be.
“Many of your local leaders were in Austin to discuss the important issues facing our community…i believe that this time was well spent,” said Moody.
You can listen to the podcast here