Category Archives: Photography

The Other Side Of The Northern Border: Canada Grapples With Refugees Transiting US

The Canada border at Roxham Road near Champlain, New York. Canada’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police staff this unofficial crossing 24 hours a day. (photo: Lorne Matalon)

CHAMPLAIN, New York—Washington has ended a temporary residency program for almost 60,000 Haitians allowed to legally enter the United States following an earthquake in 2010. The affected Haitians will have to leave the US by 2019. The program has also been revoked for two thousand Nicaraguans and it’s unclear if other groups including 300,000 Salvadorans will be allowed to remain. The net result is a continued flow of people crossing the border into Canada by foot. They are taking advantage of a footnote in a Canada-US treaty that says foot crossers won’t be turned back from Canada until their case is heard.

see: Full Screen Slideshow

1_refugees_lorne_matalon

Picture 1 of 10

The Canada border at Roxham Road near Champlain, New York. Canada's Royal Canadian Mounted Police staff this unofficial crossing 24 hours a day. (photo: Lorne Matalon)

After cresting this past summer, the story continues to unfold at places such as Roxham Road, north of Champlain in upstate New York. The United States Border Patrol in Swanton says illegal crossings on foot into Canada are also taking place in Vermont. Only now, before they cross on foot, people like Mansour, a 37-year-old engineer from Yemen, are met by a group of women, Canadians and Americans, that includes Janet McFetridge of Champlain.

A man from Congo speaks with RCMP officers after illegally entering Canada. (photo: Lorne Matalon)

The man from Congo was then frisked before being processed in the white trailer. (photo: Lorne Matalon)

Continue reading

Posted in NPR, Photography, Resources | Leave a comment

US-Owned Maquilas Welcome Prospect Of Changes To NAFTA

Alberto Martinez welds steel at a maquila owned by Metal Industries of Florida. (photo: Lorne Matalon)

2_maquila_lorne_matalon

Picture 1 of 4

Alberto Martinez welds steel at a maquila in Reynosa, Mexico owned by Metal Industries of Florida (photo: Lorne Matalon)

REYNOSA, Mexico–American-owned assembly-line factories known as maquilas that line the Mexican side of the border with the U.S. have been bracing for change since the election of Donald Trump. But not in the way you might expect. They clearly don’t want a border tax placed on their shipments to the United States, as the Trump administration has threatened. But they are embracing the possibility of an updated Nafta saying the current version makes it a harder to operate in Mexico compared to the U.S. It all has to do with time consuming paperwork.

SEE: Full Screen Slideshow

Maquila managers and trade groups interviewed in both countries see regulatory uncertainty as an opportunity. “Nafta is 30 years old. It hasn’t kept up with today’s economy,” said Mike Myers, a Texan who runs a maquila owned by Metal Industries, a Florida company that makes vents for air conditioners and heating systems.

Mike Myers, a maquila manager in Reynosa, Mexico. He opposes a border tax but supports an updated Nafta. (photo: Lorne Matalon)

Maquilas are foreign-owned factories in Mexico, many American-owned, that produce goods for export. Mexican and Asian interests also own maquilas, which sprung up like mushrooms after the rain when NAFTA took effect in 1994. Maquilas leverage low labor costs in Mexico and duty free access to the U.S. market to produce everything from televisions to medical equipment to computer parts. Continue reading

Posted in marketplace, NPR, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Peace In Colombia: Progress But Challenge Remains In Highly Polarized Nation

This guerrilla who did not wish to be identified by name, said he lost his arm during the conflict in Colombia. He is painting an image that marks 53 years since the formation of the FARC, the Spanish acronym for the the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. (photo: Lorne Matalon)

cbc logo large

META, Colombia—Making peace after five decades of armed conflict in Colombia is a process fraught with challenges. The stakes for the United States stake are enormous both politically and economically. The two countries have a free trade deal and American companies like Coca-Cola and ExxonMobil are major players in Colombia. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is at the White House today to talk with President Donald Trump about protecting Colombia’s nascent peace process. After supporting the Colombian military for years—seven billion dollars since 2000 in its fight against leftist rebels —the U.S. is now helping to finance peace after a deal to end the conflict was signed in November. The U.S. Congress approved a 450-million dollar package earlier this month called Peace Colombia to help Colombia craft a durable peace. That number is likely to be reduced next year however as the Trump administration has been clear that it plans to reduce foreign assistance packages.

SEE: Full Screen Slideshow

Driving through the hills of Meta, where the Colombian Andes cascade down into a lush green valleys, where sunbeams dance on the bluest of skies, it is hard to imagine the bloodshed that once unfolded here.  Meta was ravaged by a war that pitted Colombia’s army and private militia against leftist guerrillas known as the FARC—-the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. The FARC began as a rebellion against economic inequality in the 1960s. It then entered the cocaine trade to finance the conflict. And sowed terror in rural Colombia, killing civilians and extorting businesses.

Colombian soldiers at a checkpoint in the mountains of Meta, Colombia. The army battled the guerrillas here but today, guerrillas are asking for a greater military presence here to protect the region from incursions by organized crime and private militia. (photo: Lorne Matalon)

Continue reading

Posted in marketplace, Photography, Radio, Resources | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shot Across The Bow: Mexico Considers Boycott Of U.S. Corn

Rafael Avila harvests corn grown from seeds that trace their lineage to the Aztec and Maya cultures. In Mexico there’s a saying. “Sin maiz, no hay pais.” Without corn there’s no country.’ Despite that history, Mexico imports vast amounts of U.S. corn. (photo:Lorne Matalon)

MEXICO CITY — Every weekday, Antonio Godinez Vera turns imported American corn into feed for Mexican livestock. Some of that U.S. corn is also used to make tortillas, a staple of the Mexican diet. Corn is also a symbol of Mexico itself. Corn was born in Mexico 9,000 years ago. There’s even an expression here, “Sin maíz no hay pais,” meaning ‘without corn there’s no country.’ Legislation has been proposed in Mexico City to boycott U.S. corn in response to a suite of economic threats against Mexico voiced by President Donald Trump.

Corn mill owner Antonio Godinez Vera said a boycott of American corn would raise prices for Mexican consumers and damage the Mexican corn market. (photo: Lorne Matalon)

“A boycott could certainly hurt us,” Godinez told me in Spanish as the din of his corn mill echoed through a complex of machines and metal kernel grinders. Trucks laden with imported American corn sat in his lot. A boycott would also hurt U.S. corn growers from the Dakotas to the Midwest to Arizona, California and Texas. Mexico’s deputy economy minister Juan Carlos Baker told the Financial Times that negotiations are underway with Argentina and Brazil to offer them duty-free access to the Mexican market now enjoyed by U.S. growers under the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta).  As a candidate, Trump called Nafta the “worst trade deal” ever signed in this country.

Corn imported from the U.S. is used primarily in animal feeds but market uncertainty has historically translated into elevated prices for tortillas, a staple of the Mexican diet. (photo: Lorne Matalon)

Mexican Sen. Armando Rios Piter has proposed the boycott. “Corn is from Mexico, from my country. So right now it’s an important position in nationalistic way but also in terms of trade,” he said at the door of the Senate chamber.

Corn has been cultivated in what is modern-day Mexico for nine thousand years. (photo: Lorne Matalon)

 

Continue reading

Posted in Photography, Radio, Resources | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Borderland Exodus: Towns Near Path Of Proposed Mexican Pipelines Suffer Rash Of Violence

This story was commissioned by ReVista, the Harvard Review of Latin America.

A burned home in Guadalupe, Chihuahua. Homes and businesses that lie in the path of proposed infrastructure development in the Valley of Juárez have been targets of arson. (photo: Lorne Matalon)

GUADALUPE, Chihuahua, Mexico — People living in the Juárez Valley southeast of Ciudad Juárez and El Paso, Texas, allege that land speculators preparing for the start of oil and gas production have spurred a land grab that has forced what some claim is an exodus of local residents

People interviewed for this story claim they or neighbors have been burned out of their homes and that others have been murdered. They live in a string of towns along the Rio Grande in an area slated for energy production and rapid infrastructure construction.

Shattered glass marks the entrance to an abandoned dance hall in Guadalupe, Chihuahua.
There are charred and destroyed buildings throughout the town. (photo: Lorne Matalon)

One of those towns is Guadalupe, a few minutes from the United States border across from Fabens, Texas, but a world away in terms of security. Construction on a superhighway and a state-of-the-art international border crossing is underway here.

According to Mexican census rolls nearly 10,000 people lived here in 2005. The mayor — who declined to be interviewed — claimed in local media that this year only about 1,000 people remain.

One man, who like others asked not be identified for fear of retribution, explained what has happened. “The government sends people here to pressure landowners to get out of here, to say, ‘go away, we don’t want you here,’ ” he said in Spanish. The charge is vehemently denied by Chihuahua’s government.

The man said wealthy buyers then show up to grab the vacant land.

A view from the Mexican side of construction of a state-of-the-art border crossing connecting Guadalupe to Fabens, Texas. The crossing will help to move energy-related goods and services between both countries. (photo: Lorne Matalon)

Analysts suggest buyers are arriving because Mexico’s state-owned oil company PEMEX is exploring for oil and gas in northern Chihuahua. The region shares geological characteristics of the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico, the highest-producing oil field in the United States.

“Obviously this land is being re-consolidated in the hands of a few,” said Tony Payan, Director of Rice University’s Mexico Center in Houston.

“Many of these politicians will have interests in the shale development in the future and will likely get hold of that land no matter what.”

With oil and gas development and plans for pipelines, desert land no one cared about is now valuable. Chihuahua’s Secretary of Public Works told a Juárez newspaper in September that he won’t reveal the exact routes for new roads because the government doesn’t want to fuel land speculation.

Former Chihuahua Governor César Duarte visited in 2015. The mayor ordered vandalized homes on the main street to be painted in festive colors. One man said the paint is a metaphor for a smokescreen meant to cover up what residents allege has happened here. (photo: Lorne Matalon)

I asked another person about that. He laughed derisively. “It’s always about power and money,” he said in Spanish. He alleged that bureaucrats and politicians are now in the real estate business, acting at the very least as a middleman to sell land to investors.

“They are using, it is quite clear to me, that information for themselves in a way that they can position themselves as a political class to profit from this industry in the future, oil, gas and the pipelines themselves,” Payan said.

This damaged home is steps from the repainted facades on the town’s main street. (photo: Lorne Matalon)

Back in Guadalupe, physical evidence suggests that someone doesn’t want people here: burned houses, shattered glass and very few people on the street.

The narrative in Mexican media is that the violence is a consequence of turf wars between cartels. But some residents are skeptical. They sense, but can’t prove, that outside investors are working with organized crime to terrorize people into fleeing, leaving their land to be scooped up. The state can legally seize land and homes for unpaid property taxes.

Residents said repeatedly that no economic activity, legal or otherwise, takes place without the government knowledge and tacit sanction.

“The valley is a lawless place,” another man said in Spanish. “It’s the sad truth.”

Mexican authorities cited in media reports say at least 300 people have been killed in Guadalupe since 2008 — mayors, police, city councilors, business owners and human rights activists. People are learning hard lessons about real estate.

Julián Cardona is a photographer from Juárez. He was the photographer on a story about the Juárez Valley with Mexican journalist Ignacio Alvarado Álvarez published by Al Jazeera America.       

“You know the rule. Location, location, location,” Cardona said.

He’s watched a slow-motion depopulation unfold here. He said residents tell him that authorities do nothing.

“Every time there was a killing, every time there was a burning house, the soldiers were a block away,” Cardona said. “They didn’t stop the killers or the people burning the houses.”

Pipeline companies in Texas are historically granted the right of eminent domain, to seize private land because the transport of energy is deemed to be in the public’s interest.

“In the United States, it’s a lawful eminent domain. In Mexico it’s outright violence,” said El Paso lawyer Carlos Spector. He represents 250 former residents of the Juárez Valley, many from Guadalupe, now seeking asylum in the U.S.

“Investors are getting very aggressive,” said Spector, founder of Mexicanos En Exilio, or Mexicans in Exile.

“All they have to do is get a list from the mayor of a small town, who is under their control, as to who hasn’t paid the taxes. And if they can match up who hasn’t paid the taxes to where the gas and the freeway is coming, then you go after that property. It’s very, very scientific.”

People who remain in Guadalupe say that former neighbors who have fled are anxious to sell their now-abandoned land for cents on the dollar because they’re too frightened to even contemplate coming back.

Fear in The Juárez Valley: A Case Study

Martín Huéramo is one of 250 former residents of the Mexican border town of Guadalupe, now seeking asylum in the United States. “I received several threats, not just one,” he said in Spanish.

Miguel Murgia’s wife was taken from a family gathering in Guadalupe four years ago. Murgia theorizes criminals were after his nephew who was related to a human rights activist. Both Murgia’s wife and nephew are unaccounted for. He is in the United States while his application for asylum is considered. (photo: Lorne Matalon)

Huéramo was a city councilor in Guadalupe in 2010. He had opposed the mayor’s resolution that would allow the local government to expropriate land to sell to energy speculators.

The week after he entered the United States, two women on the city council were killed. They had opposed the same resolution. This was confirmed by two independent sources.

The year before, two of his brothers-in-law were murdered.

“Families in the Juárez Valley have lost loved ones,” he said. “It’s a message saying they have to leave the Juarez Valley.

A family chart of the Josefina Reyes Salazar family. Josefina Reyes was a human rights activist who was murdered near Ciudad Juárez in 2010. Red under a name means a Reyes relative has been murdered. Blue indicates an asylum seeker. (photo: Lorne Matalon)

Residents says violence rose in the Juárez Valley in 2010 after the murder of Josefina Reyes Salazar killed on the outskirts of Ciudad Juárez.

She had led the Mexican side of a successful binational campaign to stop a nuclear waste dump in Sierra Blanca, Texas, just across from Guadalupe. And she had spoken out about land displacement in the Juárez Valley.

An art gallery administrator from Ciudad Juárez, Gabriela Carballo, compares opposition to pipelines in Guadalupe to conflict in the U.S. over the proposed Trans Pecos Pipeline. It would ferry natural gas from Texas into Mexico.

There is intense opposition on the part of some Texas landowners and ranchers.

“As a Mexican I can say that we care as much about the environment as any one of these people that are fighting the Trans Pecos Pipeline,” said Carballo. As for alleged land displacement in the name of energy in Chihuahua, she said it’s not easy to take a stand under the actual or perceived threat of retribution. “If we speak out against it, we run the risk of our really extremely corrupt government murdering us,” she said.

There’s no way to verify such a claim. And Mexican officials are quick to refute it.

“Violence is minimal right now and no one’s been affected by plans for pipelines,’ said Arturo Llamas in Spanish. He’s Chihuahua’s pipeline and energy infrastructure regulator.

Llamas is also the state’s liaison with Mexico’s federal energy agencies. He said energy development in northern Chihuahua is a boon to local residents that will ultimately translate into lower electricity and gasoline costs.

“It will help the entire country, not just Chihuahua,” he said. He was emphatic that he and his staff are watching the Juárez Valley.

“It’s our responsibility to be sure that laws are obeyed and that everything that must be done is done properly,” he said. He also said he wanted anyone with a complaint to contact his office in Chihuahua City.

But few people alleging harm are likely to approach a government they don’t trust.

At the destroyed dance hall, words on the upper right read, “no minors, no weapons, no drugs.” (photo: Lorne Matalon)

There are others beyond the alleged victims, who bear witness to a different reality. Mexican photographer Julián Cardona has catalogued the destruction of peoples lives in the Juárez Valley.

“I think they’re now realizing the value of their land, because now there are people buying their lands,” said Cardona. “Violence is linked to displacement of their families.”

He recalled a visit June 24, 2015, when Chihuahua Gov. César Duarte made a brief stop in Guadalupe.

“The governor visited in Guadalupe and the mayor ordered the empty buildings and house along the main avenue painted in bright colors — glowing yellow, green, blue, pink. The fact the houses were painted in bright colors is like a smokescreen of what’s really going on,” Cardona said.

As for Martin Huéramo — the former Guadalupe city councilor seeking asylum — he says he would have no issue with energy production or pipelines if they did not involve, in his words, people being forced out. He doesn’t believe government claims that laws are being followed and things are being done properly.

Then unexpectedly, he said he believes one of the government’s claims.”The government says violence is down in the Juárez Valley,” he said in Spanish.”I believe it,” he continued, “because there are no more people left to kill.”

Continue reading

Posted in fronteras npr stations, Photography, Print, Radio, Resources | Leave a comment

US-Mexico Intelligence Cooperation Braces For Possible Change

Mexican soldiers work in the mountains of Sinaloa burning this marijuana field, part of an eradication program supported by the United States. (photo: Lorne Matalon)

AUSTIN, Texas–The U.S. Congressional Research Service says intelligence cooperation between Mexico and the United States has become closer in the last decade on issues important to both countries such as illegal immigration, border security, drugs and human trafficking.

But that critical intelligence relationship may be under examination in Mexico. The country is trying to fashion a response to a suite of economic threats issued by the new U.S. administration. And security is one serious chip to play. After alleged Mexican drug trafficker Chapo Guzmán Loera was arrested in Sinaloa, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration released a statement.

“The arrest is a significant achievement,” it said, “in our shared fight against organized crime.” There are published reports that U.S. intelligence on Guzmán’s whereabouts led to the takedown. Guzmán was extradited to the United States last month.

SEE: Full Screen Slideshow

But the former chief of Mexico’s National Intelligence Agency between 2007 and 2011 believes that kind of cooperation risks being diluted. “There will be no incentives to collaborate with the United States,” said Guillermo Valdés in a conversation in Austin, Texas.

Continue reading

Posted in fronteras desk, Photography, Radio, Resources | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fraying At The Seams: The Challenge Of Fair Trade Coffee In Mexico And Guatemala

photo: Lorne Matalon

Picture 1 of 8

Paulino Agustín and Sinael Altamirano prepare ground in the mountains of Chiapas state, a prime coffee growing region in Mexico. They are digging before planting coffee trees which typically don't produce coffee beans for three years after planting. (Lorne Matalon)

CACAHOATAN, Chiapas — The lives of thousands of small-scale coffee growers in Latin America and Mexico are better off because of fair trade. But the system is fraying at the seams in one of the world’s most important coffee-growing regions because of a perfect storm defined by low prices, a damaging fungus and unscrupulous middlemen.

Central America and southern Mexico are major parts of the fair trade coffee mosaic and 80 percent of the world’s fair trade coffee comes from Latin America.

SEE: Full Screen Slideshow

“They pay well,” said coffee grower Pedro Pacheco in Spanish in Chajul, Guatemala referring to the foreigners who buy his fair trade coffee beans. He is a member of a fair trade coffee co-op in which coffee growers sell their beans together sharing risk and reward. He said his co-op works well because its foreign buyers pay a fair price that is locked in and doesn’t change even if market conditions do.

César Ulises Roblero (R) and Carlos Galves Hernandez (L) sell beans they acquire from growers from this small processing plant near the Tacaná volcano, a source of rich soil that imparts a distinct aromatic taste to coffee produced near here. (photo: Lorne Matalon)

Continue reading

Posted in marketplace, Photography | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

El Salvador & Central American Migration: New Concerns As Numbers Rise One Year After Unprecedented Influx

Two members of the Mara Salvatrucha gang (MS-13) stand in a prison in El Salvador. MS-13 was founded by Salvadoran immigrants in California in the 1980s. Recent intelligence gathered by US federal agents shared with the House Judiciary Committee in Washington, DC show that many Salvadorans cite gang violence as a prime motive for leaving Central America. (Lorne Matalon)

Two members of the Mara Salvatrucha gang (MS-13) stand in a prison in El Salvador. MS-13 was founded by Salvadoran immigrants in California in the 1980s. Recent intelligence gathered by US federal agents shared with the House Judiciary Committee in Washington, DC show that many Salvadorans cite gang violence as a prime motive for leaving Central America. (Lorne Matalon)

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — The line of the hopeful forms every weekday morning at the American Embassy in San Salvador.

The scene is both intense and poignant. A line of several dozen families snakes its way along a sidewalk across the street. Infants are wailing in their parents’ arms as clouds of black diesel spewed by passing trucks envelop the crowd. A few feet away, heavily-armed Salvadoran police patrol the embassy perimeter.

The would-be migrants are waiting for their turn to launch a formal application to enter the United States.

SEE: Full Screen Sideshow

That scene unfolds against a backdrop of new statistics from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that some analysts believe may portend a new surge of Central American migrants.

Continue reading

Posted in fronteras npr stations, Photography, Radio, Resources | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Harvard Revista: Building a Template for Sustainable Forestry

Revista is published by the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard. Fall 2014 is devoted to Peru and includes the photo essay, Building a Template for Sustainable Forestry: Hope in a Landscape of Corruption.

revista-peru-page1Click here to read full PDF of photo essay.

Click here to view full-screen slideshow.

1_peru_matalon

Picture 1 of 22

Jairo Huarash and Armando Espinosa stand on their raft of cut logs or boya. They lived on the raft for three days transporting their wood to a mill. Rio Ucayali, Atalaya Province.

Continue reading

Posted in Photography, Print | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

BBC World Service Interview: Riding La Bestia

bbc_world_service_logo Many Central American migrants looking to cross into the United States transit Mexico on a network of cargo trains collectively known as La Bestia, which means “the beats” in Spanish. The migrants choose this option over walking overland but La Bestia is a risky trip too. Marauding gangs extract extortion fees, woman are routinely abused and raped and many people have been tossed from the train for refusing to comply with demands, losing limbs or their life.

Shadows move across the tracks as La Bestia, a cargo train known as The Beast, approaches from the southern Mexican state of Chiapas into the state of Veracruz.(Lorne Matalon)

Shadows move across the tracks as La Bestia, a cargo train known as The Beast, approaches from the southern Mexican state of Chiapas into the state of Veracruz. (Lorne Matalon)

BBC World Service anchor Julian Worricker interviewed Lorne Matalon live from London about Matalon’s experience reporting on La Bestia. You can also find Matalon’s photographs from his coverage here.

Posted in Photography, Radio | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Making Deals With Informants: US Visas And The Juárez War

Story originally published at

fronteras_logo

[audio:http://lornematalon.com/wp-content/uploads/audio/fronteras_interview_grayson_mcgahan_us_visas_and_juarez_war.mp3]

 

In this Fronteras Desk web exclusive, Lorne Matalon speaks with Jason McGahan, the author of a report for The Daily Beast news site entitled, “U.S. Visas Helped Fuel The Juárez Drug Wars.”

Matalon also speaks with College of William & Mary Professor George Grayson, the co-author with Sam Logan of “The Executioner’s Men: Los Zetas, Rogue Soldiers, Criminal Entrepreneurs and the Shadow State They Created.”

A Mexican Federal Police officer stands guard in a neighborhood on the outskirts of Juárez. Residents said some of their neighbors had left when the Sinaloa and Juárez cartels fought during some of the worst years of the violence. March 15, 2009 (Lorne Matalon)

A Mexican Federal Police officer stands guard in a neighborhood on the outskirts of Juárez. Residents said some of their neighbors had left when the Sinaloa and Juárez cartels fought during some of the worst years of the violence. March 15, 2009 (Lorne Matalon)

Grayson has chronicled other examples of U.S. authorities paying informants inside the Mexican underworld.

Continue reading

Posted in Photography, Radio | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Story originally published at The United States Department of Agriculture has rescinded a 2012 ban on inspectors working at what was until two years ago the largest single point of entry for Mexican cattle into the United States. The lifting of the … Continue reading

Posted on by Lorne Matalon | Leave a comment

Drug Smuggling Twist: Innocent Mexicans Allegedly Duped By Mennonite Suspect

Story originally published at

fronteras_logo

and adapted for PBS Newshour.

CHIHUAHUA, Mexico —Federal prosecutors in Texas and New Mexico are dealing with a series of unusual cases.

Ten drug smuggling crimes have been traced to a man from a Mennonite community in Mexico who is alleged to have duped the victims.

A Mennonite man drives a horse and buggy near Ciudad Cuauhtémoc.

A Mennonite man drives a horse and buggy near Ciudad Cuauhtémoc.

The seduction starts with a classified ad in the paper, one that a 23-year-old named Juan was drawn to. He asks that his last name not be revealed; he’s frightened there may be retribution if the man who placed the ad — identified by U.S. attorneys and the victims as David Giesprecht Fehr — finds him.

Continue reading

Posted in Photography, Radio | Leave a comment

Harvard Revista: The Challenge of Inequality

Revista is published by the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard. Spring 2013 is devoted to Panama and includes the photo essay, The Challenge of Inequality.

Southern Darién Province, an emerald maze of rainforest and a crucible of indigenous life, personifies inequality in wealth in modern Panamá. “We’re alone here,” says Grimaldo Contrera, a 40-year-old cacique with jet-black hair and weathered hands that testify to life in rugged Darién.

“The state pledged to help us rebuild our schoolhouse. Nothing has come here but words,” he says showing a visitor his correspondence with authorities. The school has only one shabby room for fifteen children. In 2008, one student in the village was awarded a university scholarship. Contrera says Panamá has money to spend. He says he knows so from listening to the drumbeat of upbeat business stories on radio stations broadcasting from the capital.

Contrera family children swimming ; their family wants to educate them in a better schoolhouse. (Lorne Matalon)

Continue reading

Posted in Photography, Print | Leave a comment

Mexican President Peña Nieto Pushes Border Trade

Story originally published at

fronteras_logo

 

While the United States celebrated Thanksgiving, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto spent the day in a border town so small no Mexican president had ever gone there.

Peña Nieto has already made history by distancing himself from previous Mexican presidents.

Enrique Peña Nieto visited Ojinaga, Chihuahua and sent two messages simultaneously, one for domestic consumption, the other to Washington.

Enrique Peña Nieto visited Ojinaga, Chihuahua and sent two messages simultaneously, one for domestic consumption, the other to Washington.

He wants foreign investment in the state-owned oil industry, an unthinkable act in the eyes of Mexican nationalists.

Continue reading

Posted in Photography, Radio | Leave a comment

Riding La Bestia, The Immigration Train

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Story originally published at EDITOR’S NOTE: Mexico has repeatedly accused the United States of mistreating Mexican immigrants — legal or otherwise. But immigration experts in Mexico say that accusation is hypocritical. They charge the treatment of Central American immigrants entering … Continue reading

More Galleries | Leave a comment

Photo Gallery: Re-Opening The Border At Boquillas

This gallery contains 13 photos.

Story originally published at An unmanned border station in West Texas has opened almost 11 years after the border was sealed following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The border station is remotely operated, meaning citizens entering the U.S. will … Continue reading

More Galleries | Leave a comment

Building A Tourism Cooperative In Northern Mexico

Story originally published at

fronteras_logo

This live-to-tape interview broadcast from Boquillas, Coahuila, Mexico looks at the challenges faced by outsiders who say they are here—funded by tax money of the US, Canada & Mexico—to improve life in the village.

In April, we reported on a formal border crossing re-opening in West Texas. For years, thousands of tourists flocked to the tiny village of Boquillas Mexico, propping up their local economy.

casitas

Workers gather straw and foliage beside a casita under renovation. The United States looms in the background across the Rio Grande. (Lorne Matalon)

Then, Sept. 11, 2001 happened. The border was unmanned, and in the name of national security it was sealed. The closed border was a crippling blow to Boquillas’ economy.

Continue reading

Posted in Photography, Radio | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Long Awaited Border Crossing with Mexico Opens

Story originally published at

fronteras_logo

 

On this program, we catch up with Ernesto Hernandez of the Washington DC based Solimar International. That company was awarded a $100,000 contract last year to help Boquillas Mexico prepare for the border reopening. Hernandez discusses the challenge faced by outsiders who are trying to establish a community-owned tourism cooperative.

Candelario Valdez tends bar, Boquillas, Mexico (Photo: Lorne Matalon).

Candelario Valdez tends bar, Boquillas, Mexico. (Lorne Matalon)

On this program, we catch up with Ernesto Hernandez of the Washington DC based Solimar International. That company was awarded a $100,000 contract last year to help Boquillas Mexico prepare for the border reopening. Hernandez discusses the challenge faced by outsiders who are trying to establish a community-owned tourism cooperative.

Hear the effect outsiders coming is having on Boquillas and learn how Solimar views the villagers it is trying to help.

Continue reading

Posted in Photography, Radio | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Mexico’s Drug War Comes To Guatemala

Story originally published at

PRI's The World Logo

View the slideshow full screen

Carlos Morales

Picture 1 of 9

Carlos Morales sits under a picture of Che Guevara in Santa Cruz, Alta Verapaz. Morales heads the Union of Peasant Organizations. He believes the state of siege is a pretext for suppressing agrarian reform in a region with a history of land disputes.

Mexican drug traffickers have worked their way south into Guatemala. The Guatemalan army has been trying to beat them back. But some Guatemalans are expressing loyalty to the drug cartels which have provided services – schools, roads, clinics, even security – that the Guatemalan government hasn’t delivered.

Mexico’s war against the drug cartels is spilling south into Guatemala. The cartels are threatening to take over parts of northern Guatemala near the Mexican border.

In response, the Guatemalan government has taken a page from its larger neighbor — and deployed the army to try and push the traffickers out. The government has declared a “state of siege” in one province, called Alta Verapaz, that it said has been overrun by one of Mexico’s most feared cartels.

Continue reading

Posted in BBC's The World, Photography, Radio | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment