Category Archives: Resources

Programa Frontera Sur: Tracking U.S. Influence On Mexico’s Southern Border Plan

CIUDAD HIDALGO, Chiapas — In 2012, a senior official in the Department of Homeland Security declared that Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala was now essentially the southern border of the United States.

SEE MORE: Photo gallery on the migrant situation on Mexico’s southern border

That was two years before the 2014 child migrant crisis that saw tens of thousands of unaccompanied children from Central America crossing or attempting to cross into the U.S. from Mexico. Since then, the U.S. has in essence expanded its own border enforcement efforts by assisting Mexico on its southern border. In 2015, fewer Central Americans reached the U.S., though the numbers undulate from season to season.

This border is porous even after the U.S. pressured Mexico to start Programa Frontera Sur, its southern border plan, in July 2014. The plan was crafted after President Obama said the unprecedented numbers of unaccompanied children and families arriving at the U.S. border in the preceding months constituted an “urgent humanitarian situation.” The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees later warned of a “looming humanitarian crisis in the Americas.”

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Coffee

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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)

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NAFTA Marketplace

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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.’ Small plot farmers like Avila have been crushed by NAFTA. But Avila blames the Mexican government which he believes has ignored small farmers since NAFTA was signed in 1994. (Lorne Matalon)

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MARKETPLACE COLOMBIA

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Colombian police guard a street that flanks Casa de Nariño, the presidential residence in the Colombian capital, Bogotá. (Lorne Matalon)

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Panama Canal

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A tugboat advances toward the Miraflores Locks near the Panama Canal’s Pacific entrance. A vessel that can pass through the locks is classified as a Panamax, for the maximum size that can fir though the canal’s existing locks. (Lorne Matalon)

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Trans Pecos Pipeline gallery

SEE MORE: photo gallery on Trans Pecos Pipeline

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Orange ribbon on a west Texas ranch marks the route of the Trans Pecos Pipeline. The controversial pipeline will ferry natural gas from the oil and gas rich Permian Basin of Texas to Mexico. The pipeline was commissioned by Mexico's Federal Electricity Commission to power existing and planned electricity generation plants. Construction is headed by a consortium that includes Energy Transfer Partners of Dallas, led by CEO Kelcy Warren, and Grupo Carso, owned by Mexican industrialist Carlos Slim.

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Fair Trade Coffee

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Photo Credit ; Lorne Matalon

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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)

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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)

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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.

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.

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House Homeland Security Member To Ask US State Department To Revisit Border Warning

Congressional Representative Will Hurd (R-Texas) on the left with the Mayor of Ojinaga, Chihuahua, Miguel Carreón in Mexico. Hurd sits on the House Committee on Homeland Security. He says he'll ask the State Dept for data on how it determined that Ojinaga be listed on a travel advisory. The State Dept has told the Fronteras Desk that organized crime poses a threat here. (Lorne Matalon)

Congressional Representative Will Hurd (R-Texas) on the left with the Mayor of Ojinaga, Chihuahua, Miguel Carreón in Mexico. Hurd sits on the House Committee on Homeland Security. He says he’ll ask the State Dept for data on how it determined that Ojinaga be listed on a travel advisory. The State Dept has told the Fronteras Desk that organized crime poses a threat here. (Lorne Matalon)

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A version of this story was featured on the Texas Standard, a public radio collaboration led by KUT in Austin, Texas and on KPBS, San Diego.

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OJINAGA, Chihuahua — It’s  not something you see every day. A member of the United States Congress enters Mexico on the border, not by flying to Mexico City and directly back to Washington, D.C.

U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, a Republican from Texas, is also a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

So his visit to the border town of Ojinaga, in a gritty slice of the state of Chihuahua, stands out within the negative narrative that says, “Don’t go to borderland Mexico.”

“I spent nine years as an undercover officer in the CIA,” Hurd said. “So I’ve been in some pretty rough places. Ojinaga’s not one of them.”

In the last 18 months, there have been less than a dozen reported murders in Ojinaga, a town of 30,000 people.

Hurd wants to leverage his connections at the State Department that he says were forged as a CIA agent. He wants the State Department to reconsider its recent warning concern in traveling here.

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Border Wetland Uses Treated Wastewater As Congress Considers Wetland Funding

The BJ Bishop Wetland in Presidio, Texas, lies between a water treatment plant and the Rio Grande. The man-made wetland is filled with treated waste water from the plant. Construction is funded by Congress. A bipartisan bill before Congress proposes to extend funding for wetland construction. (Lorne Matalon)

The BJ Bishop Wetland in Presidio, Texas, lies between a water treatment plant and the Rio Grande. The man-made wetland is filled with treated waste water from the plant. Construction is funded by Congress. A bipartisan bill before Congress proposes to extend funding for wetland construction. (Lorne Matalon)

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PRESIDIO, Texas — A man-made wetland is now under construction on the Rio Grande, the first on the Texas-Mexico border.

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Terry Bishop stands beside the wetland named for his father, BJ Bishop. The younger Bishop plans to replicate this man-made wetland on a nearby ancient floodplain where the Rio Grande joins the Rio Conchos at Ojinaga, Chihuahua. (Lorne Matalon)

And this new wetland will be the first on the Rio Grande to use treated wastewater to restore habitat. This comes as Congress is considering a bipartisan bill to extend funding for the construction of wetlands.

The Rio Grande has lost huge swaths of bird and wildlife habitat because water has been diverted for farming and human consumption and the population of the Southwest has grown exponentially.

The new man-made wetland leverages geography and a blend of private and federal funding.

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Wind Power’s Growth In Texas Triggers Challenge To Renewable Energy Mandates

Oil and gas dominate the Texas energy market but wind is growing exponentially. Wind power now provides 10 per cent of the state's electricity. (Lorne Matalon)

Oil and gas dominate the Texas energy market but wind is growing exponentially. Wind power now provides 10 per cent of the state’s electricity. (Lorne Matalon)

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A version of this story aired on the Texas Standard, a public radio collaboration led by KUT, Austin, Texas.

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NOTREES, Texas–Energy production in Texas is dominated by oil and gas — but the state also leads the United States in the production of wind power. Some energy analysts suggest that wind power’s success in the Lone Star state has now become its challenge.

State senators recently passed a bill that threatened to repeal a state law that required utilities to source a certain amount of electricity from renewables. For 15 years, that mandate has paved the way for wind power’s growth in Texas.

They are part of an initiative that used private sector investment in wind power production and government investment in transmission lines to bring in renewable energy sources such as wind and solar to the Texas grid.

But the effort to eliminate what has been the backbone of the wind power industry’s financial model has sent a troublesome signal to investors who say wind generation needs support to compete with the fossil fuel industry.

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Border Pipelines Face Opposition On Both Sides Of Rio Grande

The proposed Trans Pecos pipeline would run from the energy-rich Permian Basin of Texas through this ranch near the U.S.- Mexico border. There the line would connect with a series of planned Mexican pipelines. (Lorne Matalon)

The proposed Trans Pecos pipeline would run from the energy-rich Permian Basin of Texas through this ranch near the U.S.- Mexico border. There the line would connect with a series of planned Mexican pipelines. (Lorne Matalon)

Story originally published at

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A version of this story aired on Texas Standard from KUT Austin.

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Mexico’s Comisión Federal de Electricidad, its federal electricity commission, has awarded a contract to a group of Texas companies to build two pipelines, including a 143 mile natural-gas pipeline from the energy-rich Permian Basin of west Texas to the border with Mexico.

The line, known as the Trans Pecos Pipeline, would run through ranch land where some landowners vehemently oppose the project.

In Texas, pipeline builders can seize private land because many pipelines are classified as being in public good because they carry natural gas, crude oil or other commodities to customers who might otherwise not be served.

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Boquillas Two Years Later: Economy Rebuild Garners Binational Support

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell signs an update to the 1999 U.S.-Mexico Wildfire Protection Agreement with her Mexican counterpart, Juan José Guerra Abud, Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) on her left. (Lorne Matalon)

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell signs an update to the 1999 U.S.-Mexico Wildfire Protection Agreement with her Mexican counterpart, Juan José Guerra Abud, Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) on her left. (Lorne Matalon)

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fronteras_logoA version of this story aired on Texas Standard from KUT Austin.

BOQUILLAS, Coahuila — A border crossing that’s seen as part of a template to rescue damaged, rural economies along the Rio Grande has marked its second anniversary.

The symbolic importance of the crossing that links Big Bend National Park in Texas to Boquillas del Carmen, Coahuila, was heralded by a visit from cabinet secretaries from the United States and Mexico. The United States ambassador to Mexico was also on hand.

After 9/11, security concerns translated into enforcement of laws that had rarely been largely overlooked before. That meant the age-old practice of walking across this sinewy slice of the Rio Grande was banned.

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Mexico Consulates Issue Birth Certificates To Undocumented Migrants In The US

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Mexico has ordered its consulates to issue birth certificates to its citizens living illegally in the United States.

The move follows President Barack Obama’s executive action granting temporary reprieve from deportation to several million undocumented Mexicans.

Herlinda Lujan with her Mexican birth certificate at the Mexico Consulate at Presidio, Texas. In a major policy shift, Mexican consulates are issuing birth certificates to its citizens living in the United States regardless of their U.S. immigration status.

Herlinda Lujan with her Mexican birth certificate at the Mexico Consulate at Presidio, Texas. In a major policy shift, Mexican consulates are issuing birth certificates to its citizens living in the United States regardless of their U.S. immigration status. (Lorne Matalon)

Mexican officials say they wants to help undocumented migrants apply for a variety of programs, including immigration applications, triggered by Obama’s decision. And those programs require identification, starting with a birth certificate.

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Court Ruling In Texas Case May Set Precedent Against Border Patrol

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A case now before the courts in Texas may set a precedent in alleged racial profiling cases brought against the United States Border Patrol.

If it succeeds, it would open a pathway for people judged by the courts to have been unlawfully seized in roving patrols to sue an individual agent, not simply the Border Patrol as an institution.

Roving patrols are separate from immigration checkpoints placed within 100 miles of the border with Mexico.

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Border Patrol Refines Tactics For Rock-Throwing Attacks

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The United States Border Patrol has issued new guidelines for agents involved in rock throwing incidents. Contrary to widespread media reports, the new guidelines do not forbid agents from firing their weapons at rock throwers.

But Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher has told agents to avoid situations in which they have no alternative to using deadly force.

Alfalfa grower Craig Miller stands beside the border wall at Ft. Hancock, Texas. Miller says it's unfair to burden federal agents with new directives in rock-throwing scenarios.

Alfalfa grower Craig Miller stands beside the border wall at Ft. Hancock, Texas. Miller says it’s unfair to burden federal agents with new directives in rock-throwing scenarios.

In 2010, on the dry bed of the Rio Grande underneath the Paso del Norte bridge in Ciudad Juárez across from El Paso, Texas, a Mexican teenager approached the border fence.

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US Visa Restrictions Eased For Cuban Artists

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[audio:http://lornematalon.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/052420104.mp3|titles=Cuba_VISAS]

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“Amigos, guajiros y borrachos” (Friends, farmers & drunkards) 2010 Oil & acrylic on canvas, 47” x 39"

The Obama administration is easing restrictions on visas issued to Cuban artists who refuse to defect or renounce their loyalty to the Cuban Revolution. The World’s Lorne Matalon profiles two artists who’ve come to the US from Cuba because of this opening.

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Panama Canal Expansion Plan

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Almost 70 percent of all the cargo that comes or goes from this country winds up passing through the Panama Canal. It’s cheaper to slip through that 51-mile passage than to send all those goods down around the bottom of South America. But as the global economy expands, so too do the container ships that carry those goods.

Work is about to begin on a project to make the canal big enough for its new super-sized customers. A project that comes with a super-sized price tag. Lorne Matalon reports now from Panama on who’s going to pay it.

(Lorne Matalon)

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