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What Got Us Here? The Chucopedia Example of Censorship

El Paso Politics - 12 hours 27 min ago
In this next article in the series, who speaks for El Paso? we will continue to explore how the community is manipulated into accepting the status quo by using Chucopedia as the […]
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Artist José Montoya: Celebrating Pride Everyday

El Paso News - 17 hours 23 min ago
By Miguel Juárez José Montoya is one of the most prolific artists in El Paso.  Last year, El Paso News featured him and his work in our our coverage during Pride month. That month, we broke the record for publishing the most articles in celebration of Pride month, surpassing ALL local El Paso-based media outlets. … Read More Artist José Montoya: Celebrating Pride Everyday
Categories: Local Blogs

Political violence is raging in Mexico

Diana Washington Valdez - Mon, 06/14/2021 - 9:30am

 Political violence

Running for office in Mexico’s recent midterm elections meant risking your life: Opinion

Diana Washington ValdezGuest columnist/El Paso TimesPublished 6 a.m. MT June 11, 2021
Candidate killed in Ocampo, Mexico.[Zuma]
Running for office in Mexico’s recent midterm elections meant having to dodge bullets, dying in ambush-type attacks, or being forced to resign after receiving death threats.
 A May 9 photograph by Marco Ugarte for the Associated Press shows Guillermo Valencia, a mayoral candidate in Michoacán, putting on a bulletproof vest before hitting the campaign trail. On May 25, mayoral candidate Alma Barragan, 61, was shot and killed while campaigning in Guanajuato.

Mexican citizens went to the polls June 6 to elect hundreds of candidates – the ones that survived with their lives intact - to federal, state and local positions. According to Etellekt Consultores, a consulting firm, the country just experienced one of its most violent election seasons in modern times.

Relying on open sources, Etellekt found 910 reported attacks between Sept. 7, 2020, and June 5, 2021, ranging from verbal threats to physical attacks and murders against candidates, officeholders, their relatives, and associates. A total of 91 politicians were assassinated.

Candidates from various parties were targeted, so mere political rivalries cannot explain this wave of political violence. Over the past two decades, the people of Mexico elected presidents from three different political parties, and they complained each time of disappointing results.

Besides politicians - numerous activists representing myriad causes, police and judicial officers - also were targets. Added to this are the relentless murders and abductions linked to organized crime (misnomer for drug-trafficking cartels).

The nonstop horror created by these brazen attacks seriously undermines Mexican democracy. The response by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been tepid at best. Who is killing these people? Security experts cited in news media accounts assert that drug cartels are involved. Apparently, criminal organizations select their preferred candidates and knock out the opponents. They act as proxies for politicians who want to remove rivals without getting their hands dirty.

Everyone knows the majority of these crimes will go unpunished, which contributes to the erosion of democracy. Obviously, the Mexican government cannot guarantee the safety of men and women that merely want to make their cities, states, and nation better.

Will we see more attacks, perhaps against the candidates who managed to get elected? If so, they could be forced to join the thousands of migrants fleeing violence in Mexico and Central America. They will have a good case if they apply for asylum in the United States.

Lopez Obrador is touchy when it comes to criticism about the widespread security issues that plague Mexico. Still, it is an issue that the United States cannot afford to ignore. U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris likely was briefed on these matters ahead of her meeting with Mexico’s president this week.

In 2008, the U.S. Joint Forces Command released its “Joint Operating Environment (JOE)” report warning about Mexico’s potential collapse. "The Mexican possibility may seem less likely, but the government, its politicians, police and judicial infrastructure are all under sustained assault and press by criminal gangs and drug cartels,” the JOE report stated.

“How that internal conflict turns out over the next several years will have a major impact on the stability of the Mexican state. Any descent by Mexico into chaos would demand an American response based on the serious implications for homeland security alone."

Mexico is closer today to that precipice than it was when the JOE report first came out.

Going forward, the good people of Mexico deserve much, much better from their leadership. 

Diana Washington Valdez is an international author-journalist based in El Paso, Texas, and a former El Paso Times staffer. 

Categories: Local Blogs

Censorship On Social Media: How Chucopedia Protects The Oligarchy

El Paso Politics - Mon, 06/14/2021 - 7:34am
Censorship is more than silencing dissenting voices. It is used politically to manipulate public perception to keep political power centers in power. Chucopedia is a Facebook group with almost 4,000 members. Our […]
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El Paso News - Fri, 06/11/2021 - 4:49pm
Categories: Local Blogs

Censorship in El Paso: The Debbie Nathan Factor

El Paso News - Fri, 06/11/2021 - 8:33am
Author’s note: this article begins a series exploring who writes El Paso’s narrative, where we explore how censorship controls what the community hears. Debbie Nathan is a journalist who has written for several outlets, including The El Paso Times, Newspaper Tree and most recently the El Paso Matters. She is one of the moderators of… Read More Censorship in El Paso: The Debbie Nathan Factor
Categories: Local Blogs

Censorship in El Paso: The Debbie Nathan Factor

El Paso Politics - Fri, 06/11/2021 - 7:52am
Author’s note: this article begins a series exploring who writes El Paso’s narrative, where we explore how censorship controls what the community hears. Debbie Nathan is a journalist who has written for […]
Categories: Local Blogs

Dow Jones Multimedia Training Academy 2021 goes online with Navigating Multiple Worlds: Portraits of the children of immigrants

Borderzine - Thu, 06/10/2021 - 11:13am

Two journalism students and nine journalism instructors from U.S. Hispanic Serving Institutions explored stories of children of immigrants for the 2021 Dow Jones News Fund Multimedia Training Academy June 5 – 10 hosted virtually by Borderzine through the University of Texas in El Paso.

See their stories here

Thanks to a grant provided by the Dow Jones News Fund, Borderzine organizes this annual training program geared to support multimedia journalism instructors who teach in institutions with a large minority population.

Here is a list of the participants who were selected for the academy and their institutions:

  • Michele Acosta, student, California State University, Stanislaus 
  • Steffi Puerto, student, Humboldt State University
  • Pate McMichael, professor, Chico State University
  • Shannon Stevens, professor, California State University, Stanislaus 
  • Laura Kurtzberg, professor, Florida International University
  • Andrea Juarez, professor, Humboldt State University
  • Nancy Garcia, professor, West Texas A&M University
  • Corrie Boudreaux, professor, University of Texas at El Paso
  • Jeannine Relly, professor, University of Arizona

The week-long multimedia-journalism academy has a proven track record of helping journalism educators acquire new skills in digital storytelling that they can use to help prepare the next generation of Latino college journalists for a competitive media market.

This hands-on training sent participants into the field to cover real stories profiling people about their experience navigating the multiple worlds of their immigrant families. Participants learned best practices in gathering audio and video via a series of Zoom workshops, then went out into the field on their own for a day of interviewing and gathering content. The rest of the time was spent working with trainers online to edit and produce their stories. Their work as well as that of participants published from previous academy sessions can be seen here.

The program director for the 2021 academy is Kate Gannon, digital content manager for and an associate professor of practice in the UT El Paso Department of Communication. Co-director is Lourdes M. Cueva Chacón,  an assistant professor in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.  Trainers are USA Today Network diversity reporter Monica Ortiz Uribe and broadcast TV veteran Andrew Valencia. Trainer and audio engineer is Selena Seay-Reynolds. Program assistant is Consuelo Martinez, a UTEP multimedia journalism major.

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Changing times, support raise aspirations for youth in The Barrio in Amarillo

Borderzine - Thu, 06/10/2021 - 10:43am

On the glass coffee table, with her favorite issues of the Golf Magazine, she finally finds the book. 

“It focuses more on the now.  Some people I recognize, some people I don’t”, said Maria Guerrero, whose dad immigrated from Mexico. “It gives you a start on the historical aspect of El Barrio.”

The Barrio, which in Spanish means neighborhood, was developed in Amarillo, Texas, to house railroad workers brought to the U.S. from Mexico. It is full of history, culture, and family stories. 

“The focus was always the thought that we were going to grow up, finish school and get married and raise families,” Guerrero said. “So that kind of cut my education, higher education short”. 

The pressure to marry came from her mother. The high school counselors didn’t help. 

“I lacked that initial push,” she said. “And I think anymore now that, and for many years, that there is a focus for high school counselors or teachers to encourage all students and especially Hispanic students, because I have seen that growth.” 

After working for programs such as Upward Bound and the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP), Guerrero says she has had the “start to her second career.”

“Growing up, our goal was to get married and have kids,” she said. “But not these ladies. They have accomplished more than I ever dreamed I would ever accomplish. And that is phenomenal.”

Today, Guerrero is the operations director for the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education (TACHE) where she coordinates all major activities. She is also the first paid staff member. 

“I look at all of these people I have met, just a huge amount of successful people and they are younger than I am,” she said. “I just can’t get enough of that. I feel very fortunate to be in this position in this job and to help encourage students.”

Categories: Local Blogs

Musician draws on diversity of influences as a teacher, performer and composer

Borderzine - Thu, 06/10/2021 - 9:38am

Christian Cruz, 30, is a musician, composer, and second-generation American who lives in Los Angeles.

When not teaching guitar lessons or playing gigs, Cruz, who holds two master’s degrees in the field (USC and Fresno State), finds his talents best satisfied with project-based music composition. He also looks forward to teaching this fall with Lead Guitar in Los Angeles, a non-profit that takes music education into schools with low access to the arts. He took some time to tell part of his story to Borderzine from the home base of his “Caucasian family” in Denair, a small town in California’s Central Valley.

Cruz was visiting, along with his spouse and fellow musician, Erin Young, who he met in USC’s music program. Young is lead guitar instructor at LA-based Tonebase, a subscription-based music education program where Cruz also works as a guitar content assistant. Her gigs playing baroque guitar also helped her connect with the MusiKaravan duo, whose work you can access through The Soraya Center for the Performing Arts at Cal State Northridge.


Categories: Local Blogs

Gardening keeps family traditions alive across generations

Borderzine - Thu, 06/10/2021 - 9:34am

Cindy Vasquez is a second-generation Mexican American who lives in Oakdale, California. She graduated from Enochs High School in 2019. Her grandparents migrated to the U.S. from Mexico, when her mother was a young child.

Her grandfather, Paul Velasco, learned to garden from his father and continued after the family moved to California. Cindy Vasquez embraces her life of rooted tradition and culture. She said she appreciates learning how to grow and cook cactus and other gardening skills passed down in the family. As an adult, she now maintains her own vegetable garden and hopes to show her own children this tradition one day.

Categories: Local Blogs

Thanks to lessons learned in a family of nurses, 2nd generation Filipina builds a career in art

Borderzine - Thu, 06/10/2021 - 9:25am

When Noelle Mongcopa was a young girl, she felt compelled to draw and create art, spending hours copying her favorite images of Dragon Ball Z and Pokemon characters. Today, she has channeled her creative force into her career as a toy designer and product manager.

However, the choice to pursue an artistic career wasn’t an obvious one. Mongcopa grew up in a family of medical professionals, where becoming a nurse was not only a family tradition, but also considered a responsible financial decision. Both her mother and her father immigrated to the United States from the Philippines in search of more professional opportunities, and worked as nurses for many years. Mongcopa’s father even changed careers, taking nursing classes after finding that there weren’t any jobs available in his area of expertise – chemistry.

Many second generation immigrants can relate to this situation. Mongcopa said she had to justify how going to art school could lead to the kind of financially stable life her parents sought by moving to the States. “They also supported me in my art,” she explained, “but they didn’t see it as a viable career.”

It was thanks to her parent’s lessons in financial literacy and their support, however, that she was able to translate her passion into a set of successful career choices. She explained how her parents taught her to be careful with money after opening a bank account for her and her brother when she was 12: “They tried to make us financially literate. They would always let me and my brother know ‘you’ve got to keep your money in order! you’re old enough now to know what you’re going to want to spend.’ Basically, they taught us how money works.”

“They also showed us how much they had in the bank!” she explained. “It was pretty crazy to learn that stuff when you’re not even working.” 

She said this transparency and understanding  influenced her choice of art school.  “Having that understanding early on helped keep me grounded for the whole college experience.” She decided to go to the Fashion Institute of Technology, a public institution that was just a train ride away.

The lessons she learned from her parents influenced her choice of major, as well. Mongcopa decided to study graphic design instead of illustration, because it seemed like there would be more jobs available after she graduated. She realized once she was in school, however, that graphic design was a saturated market and that it wasn’t her true interest. Switching to toy design ended up being a good compromise, where she felt she could pursue her interests in product design and 3D sculptures, while still using her skills in illustration.

Now, Mongcopa is reconnecting to her independent artistic practice. While maintaining a toy design job by day, she is getting back to working with paper and paint – doing studies, portraits, and landscapes in her spare time. She is also venturing into comics, and is creating a new comic for a South Florida anthology. 

At some points, Mongcopa feels tired after work and wishes she had more time for her personal projects.

Overall, however, she feels lucky. “I can’t believe […] I got a job doing art.”

Categories: Local Blogs

Daughter of Salvadoran immigrants cultivates inclusive space in rural white community

Borderzine - Thu, 06/10/2021 - 6:38am

As the oldest daughter of immigrants from El Salvador, Karina Ramos-Villalobos’ job as a child was to translate and guide her parents through the language barrier they faced in their adopted country.

“I had to fill out paperwork. I had no idea what it was for. I had to send out text messages to my parents’ boss in English because my parents didn’t know English.”

Now, Ramos-Villalobos is a first-generation college student at Humboldt State University, studying journalism

“I knew college was always on the table because I know I had to make my parents proud since they immigrated from El Salvador,” she said. 

She has a passion for social equity and community building and is determined to create spaces where Queer+ and BIPOC students, community, and art enthusiasts can come together and support one another in Humboldt County, where 83% of the population is non-Hispanic white.

Ramos-Villalobos founded a student-led event series called Humboldt Homies after seeing representation in many community arts events was predominately white. 

“Through the space that I have created I have made new friends, and people want to see more of it. Right now, I am in the works of creating another event, because Arcata and Humboldt County really needs something like this,” Ramos-Villalobos said. 


Categories: Local Blogs

Photojournalist has unique view of border life as a non-Spanish-speaking child of immigrants

Borderzine - Thu, 06/10/2021 - 6:21am

Briana Sanchez frowns at the images on her computer screen. 

“I need to add some happier photos in here,” she says.

Sanchez, lead photojournalist at the El Paso Times, knows better than anyone the difficult times that the border has been through in the last two years. After spending eight years away, first in college in Georgia and Arizona and then working at newspapers in the Midwest, Sanchez returned home to El Paso in the spring of 2019. 

“As soon as I moved back here, we had those patriots at the border, protecting the border on their own volition,” she says. “And then we had the ‘We Build the Wall’ people. And then we had the mass shooting. And then we had a global pandemic, and then we had an anniversary of that mass shooting.” 

Not all of the challenges Sanchez faces in El Paso come from the events she covers. As a child of Mexican immigrants who themselves came to the United States at a young age, Sanchez never learned to speak Spanish even though she closely identifies with her Mexican heritage. 

“When I took the job in El Paso, some people were like, ‘Oh, I just assumed you spoke Spanish,’ Sanchez says. “It’s literally the underlining theme of my entire life. I do think it is an identity that I put on myself. I truly want to be able to communicate with people who have a similar background to me. But at the same time, it’s just been kind of rooted in my siblings and I (that) we’re American.” 

Sitting in front of her digital gallery of images, Sanchez finally stops scrolling and points at a little girl on the screen. The picture is from February of 2020.

“She was just dancing her heart out. It was so cool. Just the smoke and the colors and everything,” she smiles. “That was fun.”

Categories: Local Blogs

How the immigrant founder of a preschool builds community in Northern California through dance, diversity and determination

Borderzine - Wed, 06/09/2021 - 10:40pm

Mi Escuelita Maya is in a working class neighborhood at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in Chico, California. A mural on the building depicts children from diverse backgrounds flying kites in open spaces. One of the founders, Maria Trenda, helped build the preschool in 2007, just before the Great Recession, on a corner lot just blocks from her home. Her first estudiantes are now entering college. 

Trenda’s school is an homage to her past. For 30 years, her mother ran a preschool in Mexico. After immigrating to the U.S. from Puebla, Mexico, Trenda worked as a nanny and a Spanish middle school teacher. Mi Escuelita Maya is her prayer for a brighter future. Students from all walks of life learn together, dance together, and cook together. They hear music from all over the world for the first time. Teachers speak in both Spanish and English. 

“It is really important to know where you come from for you to be able to know where you’re going,” Trenda says. 

Roughly 100 students, from ages 3 to 5, are served organic lunches five days a week. They share a pet guinea pig named Sunshine and a tiny restroom with miniature toilets. They play in a sandbox that wraps around a much-needed shade tree. The kiddos and peques, as Trenda calls them, seem to love it. The school combines sophisticated early childhood education and open-classroom philosophies; imagine a Montessori approach mixed with Waldorf methods all residing together in a bilingual bookbag.

 As essential workers, Trenda and her staff of 11 worked in-person and online throughout the pandemic.

“I remember seeing some of the parents come in and saying, ‘You’re not closing, right?’” Trenda recalls. “And we’re like, no, we’re not gonna close. … Because we knew that, you know, people needed us.”

Categories: Local Blogs

From borderlands of Brownsville and Tucson, Chicanx artist explores themes of barriers, belonging

Borderzine - Wed, 06/09/2021 - 10:16pm

Artist Alejandro Macias was born, raised and lived for more than three decades in Brownsville, Texas, communicating the borderlands experience through visual art as a second-generation Mexican American. 

In 2019, he moved hundreds of miles west to the borderlands city, Tucson, in Arizona, to continue working on his art and to teach at The University of Arizona in the School of Art.

His work, which in part is inspired by Chicanx activist work, draws on artists who transformed the human figure, artistically.  His art reflects his and others’ lived experience, striving to find a sense of belonging in the borderlands region. His work also reflects social-political climates of the times. 

Macias’ paintings focus on identity, the Mexican American experience within U.S. society, migration, his own family history and the many other families struggling and who have witnessed barriers in the borderlands. He uses images of himself in some work as representative of others with visuals often related to physical and metaphorical barriers in the Mexico-U.S. borderland region, which embodies two nations, two cultures with different identities that often merge together. 

Categories: Local Blogs

Artist Marcos Rey’s Spiritual Work

El Paso News - Wed, 06/09/2021 - 9:56pm
by Miguel Juarez In June 2020 El Paso News celebrated Pride month by focusing on local LGBTQ artists. We published ten articles devoted to Pride last year. This year, we will continue to explore how creatives dealt with the pandemic and how they and their art making was affected? To gauge how artists fared during… Read More Artist Marcos Rey’s Spiritual Work
Categories: Local Blogs

Danza cultural helps build important life skills in rural California community

Borderzine - Wed, 06/09/2021 - 9:16pm

Children wearing masks stomp their feet on concrete as they watch the new baile folklórico teacher nod her head and gesture the beats: right, left, right, left. The students are gathered on this Sunday evening in June at the local park in Humboldt County, California and show their excitement with this fun, social activity. 

The person leading this effort is Lucy Salazar, the president of Cumbre Humboldt — a local nonprofit celebrating its 2-year anniversary.

“Music. Dancing. It’s math. It’s rhythm. It’s teamwork. It’s being able to focus,” Salazar says.

After Salazar retired from a 20-year career in the sciences as a fuels management specialist, she founded Cumbre after volunteering at the elementary local school where her daughters went.  

“Since I am bilingual, I volunteered to help with the Spanish-speaking kids, the English-learners,” she says. “It became pretty obvious right away that they were falling through the cracks.”

As a result, she started Cumbre Humboldt, which promotes educational and enriching opportunities for Latinos and Spanish speakers, especially education opportunities for the children of immigrants. 

Humboldt County is a small, rural community five hours north of San Franciso where the Redwoods reach high in the sky and Latinos make up only 12% of the population and few resources and activities are geared toward them. Statewide, Latinos make up nearly 40% of California’s population.

Cumbre is an acronym and it stands for: confidence, unity, motivation, balance, respect, and empathy. 

“That ‘c’ for confidence is really important to me,” Salazar says. “If you can perform in front of a large group of strangers, then in class you can ask your questions. … It all kind of comes together for that well-rounded person: It’s the education and enrichment and confianza — that confidence — that’s so important.”

Categories: Local Blogs

El Paso Times and Ordaz

Max Powers - Sun, 06/06/2021 - 8:54am
I am not sure what to make of it, but I do find the way the El Paso Times covers State Representative Claudia Ordaz kinda interesting. Last week, she got front page treatment. And she's just a freshman. And you know that had to annoy the more experienced, accomplished legislators.... Max Powers
Categories: Local Blogs

El Paso About To Achieve Herd Immunity?

El Paso Politics - Fri, 06/04/2021 - 7:29am
The Texas Health and Human Services COVID-19 dashboard shows that 43.21% of the Texas population is now fully vaccinated against Covid, as of this morning. To be considered fully vaccinated, an individual […]
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by Dr. Radut