Flying over the village of San Lazaro, Sonora, Mexico
Just south of the US border, the Santa Cruz River is a dust bowl, a scarred ditch tapped dry by the booming twin cities of Nogales, Mexico and Nogales, Arizona. Not long ago, people waded in and held baptisms in the river. Today it looks like fire has destroyed the riverbed and the trees beside it. But it’s a very different story a couple of hours farther into Mexico. Lorne Matalon has the story.
San Lazaro, Mexico – population 600 – it’s on the floor of a remote valley crisscrossed by warrens of paths carved into the boundless Sonoran desert. It’s where the Santa Cruz starts wending its way north toward the U-S. And it’s where 20-year-old Arturo Alvarez leads a group of young people working on a restoration team. ‘We’re watching bird migration patterns,’ Alvarez says. The group is known as Los Halcones– the Hawks-and it’s also monitoring the river’s temperature, and the health of the vegetation lining its banks.
Less than a decade ago, little took root here. The protective underbrush and cottonwood and mesquite saplings had been trampled by cattle and horses. But Los Halcones have fenced off two miles of the river and saplings are now abundant.
People get around by horse-drawn wagon at the Mennonite village of El Sabinal, Chihuahua, Mexico.
The northern Mexican state of Chihuahua is one of Mexico’s most violent. Rising drug-related crime has taken a heavy toll on the state – just south of the border from New Mexico and Texas. But amidst the violence, a pacifist community thrives. Mennonites have been living in Chihuahua for decades. They’re considered a part of the state’s tapestry now – famous around Mexico for their cheese and other farm products. The World’s Lorne Matalon traveled there to meet some of Chihuahua’s Mennonites.
Matalon: The village of El Sabinal in the remote Chihuahuan desert of northern Mexico looks like something out of another era. The houses are simple one-floor structures, vintage hand-made farm tools are still in use – and most people here get around in horse-drawn carriages.
Matalon: El Sabinal is an orthodox Mennonite community – meaning its 600 people generally avoid modern contraptions like cars, electricity, modern music, and telephones. They also speak a German dialect to communicate with each other. But when it comes to speaking with outsiders — Spanish is the language of choice.
Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon will be watching his country’s upcoming local elections very carefully. That’s because his conservative party is trying to win Congressional seats and Calderon wants to make sure he has enough support to fight the country’s rampant drug problem.
Mexico has deployed the Army to several cities along the US border where drug trafficking is a problem. One of those cities is Reynosa just south of McAllen, Texas. Both towns are growing thanks to free trade (NAFTA) and maquilladoras, the assembly-line factories in Mexico that manufacture goods for export. The World’s Lorne Matalon reports on Mexico’s drug war & its effect on the regional economy.
Mexico’s violent drug cartels didn’t simply pack up and go home when the H1N1flu arrived. In fact, they’re just as active as before. The World’s Lorne Matalon reports that the government has once again stepped up its attempts to beat back the cartels.
Lorne Matalon reports on some of the political fallout from the swine flu outbreak in Mexico. Some opposition politicians are criticizing the government for not reacting fast enough to the outbreak, or for overreacting. President Felipe Calderon has defended his government’s actions as swift and appropriate.
At least 16 people in Mexico have died from what officials there say is a strain of influenza that originally came from pigs. Meanwhile, swine flu is also being reported in the southern United States. Anchor Katy Clark speaks with The World’s Lorne Matalon in Mexico City.
Mexico is experiencing a horrifying wave of violence. So it’s not surprising that the religious cult, Santa Muerte – or the Saint of Death – has gained a following. Narration and all photos by Lorne Matalon.
With an escalating war between Mexico’s drug cartels and the government, security is the number one issue as Mexico prepares for midterm elections next year. But adding to fears expressed by many Mexicans is a recent surge in kidnapping with victims from all social classes. Narration and all photos: Lorne Matalon.
Update: In December 2008 the Mexican authorities told the family featured in this slideshow that they’ve positively identified remains found recently in the Mexico City area as those of abducted Silvia Vargas Escaleras.
Israel Ritchie, known as Tolon, is a 37-year-old shark fisher from López Mateos, Mexico. His family has hunted sharks off the Pacific side of the Baja California peninsula for generations, selling the meat these days for around U.S. 70 cents a kilogram (2.2 pounds) and the shark fins for 50 to 100 U.S. dollars a kilogram.
But relying on shark for an income puts Tolon in a precarious place.
“Our situation is drastic,” Tolon said. “The shark population has fallen sharply in the last ten years. Now I must travel farther offshore to find them.”
Last year the United States deported a record number of undocumented Mexicans, but authorities along the U.S. -Mexico border say Mexicans seeking jobs continue to cross into the United States every day. As well, people from other countries including Russia, Bangladesh and South Africa have also been caught trying to get into the U.S. From south Texas, The World’s Lorne Matalon reports.