Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Tarahumara: Challenge in the Sierra

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Drug cartels that threaten border security in the southwest US are active in Tarahumara territory, the Sierra Madre of the Mexican State of Chihuahua. They are alleged to be stealing arable land and trees from Tarahumara homelands. Trees are both cultural icons, said to link earth to the heavens, & environmentally critical to the maintenance of a stable water table in the Sierra.

In a separate but related development, the Mexican equivalent of the Environmental Protection Agency in the state of Chihuahua has rejected a court ruling banning illegal logging on ancestral Tarahumara land.


Photos by Lorne Matalon. Multimedia produced by Sarah Vasquez.

These images were taken during research for our series on two severe challenges facing the Tarahumara indigenous people of northern Mexico.

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Americans, Mexicans Helping Indigenous Tarahumara

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Private Mexican & American citizens are in the Sierra with the Tarahumara now as the planting season begins. Famed for their prowess at ultra long distance running, the Tarahumara are losing arable land & the capacity to grow their own food. Outsiders are supplying the Tarahumara with protection, food and & high quality seeds for next year.

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Tarahumara Governor Pal Ma in a cornfield beside her home, Talpa, Chihuahua, Mexico. (Lorne Matalon)

SIERRA MADRE, Chihuahua, Mexico — As the summer planting season begins, American and Mexican citizens are helping one of Mexico’s most isolated indigenous groups — the Tarahumara of Chihuahua. They face the twin challenges of poverty and corruption; illegal loggers and violent criminal organizations steal their arable land and plunder the mountains.

A tractor donated by a family from Texas tills a field that is 10 hours by road from the U.S.-Mexico border. Corn planting season has started in the Sierra.
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Brothers’ Murder and Border Violence

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In El Porvenir, Mexico across from Fort Hancock, Texas, drug cartel battles for control of the long-established smuggling route have triggered multiple killings on the Mexican side, most recently the murder of two brothers. The violence rarely spills across the border, but the psychological impact does. Lorne Matalon reports for Fronteras.

In El Porvenir, Mexico across from Fort Hancock, Texas, drug cartel battles for control of the long-established smuggling route have triggered multiple killings on the Mexican side, most recently the murder of two brothers.

Gap in the border wall at El Porvenir, Chihuahua, Mexico and Fort Hancock, Texas.

Gap in the border wall at El Porvenir, Chihuahua, Mexico and Fort Hancock, Texas.

The violence rarely spills across the border, but the psychological impact does.

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The Personal Cost of Extortion in Mexico

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Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has shifted the national conversation away from an intractable drug war and towards the economy. Despite Mexico’s insecurity, its economy is still a major player in Latin America. But some business owners working on the border are finding it increasingly difficult to avoid the cartels.

OJINAGA, MEXICO – There has been a major increase in the number of businesses reporting extortion attempts in Mexico, according to a survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in Mexico (PDF).

The Chamber’s new survey says the number of its member businesses reporting extortion is already twice this year what it was in 2012.

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