Tag Archives: NPR

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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Building A Tourism Cooperative In Northern Mexico

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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.

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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.

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Long Awaited Border Crossing with Mexico Opens

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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.

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A Texas-Mexico Border Crossing Opens

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Catarino Oreste Vasquez, 70, says residents of Boquillas, Mexico, yearn for visitors now that the border crossing has reopened.

Catarino Oreste Vasquez, 70, says residents of Boquillas, Mexico, yearn for visitors now that the border crossing has reopened. (Lorne Matalon)

Boquillas, Mexico, a riverside hamlet of 90 people, sits a minute by foot across the Rio Grande from Big Bend National Park in Texas, a boundless tapestry of rock and high desert. Mexicans used to cross to work, buy supplies in the park or visit family. Americans would wade across the river to savor Mexico for a few hours. The border, at least here, was an abstract one that people on either side ignored. But that was before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Afterward, this part of the border was sealed.

The only thing entering the U.S. along this emerald sliver of the Rio Grande was the sound of 62-year-old Victor Valdez singing. His voice echoed across the canyon, his corridos telling stories of lost love and the fight to survive in a harsh, beautiful land.

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KRTS Crosses into Mexico at Boquillas, and then Back Into Texas…Legally

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013: This morning, Marfa Public Radio news reporter Lorne Matalon was among the first to cross at the new international port of entry between Big Bend National Park, Texas, and Boquillas, Mexico.

After more than a year of wrangling, between officials in the United States and Mexico, this pedestrian crossing has now opened officially. KRTS spoke to residents of Boquillas, Mexico, about their joy and relief for the port opening.

On this day, in which this new border crossing opened, there was a immigration rally in Washington D.C. in a gathering called “All-In For Citizenship.”Previous KRTS News reports on the border opening were filed in March 2013, November 2012, and even back in January 2011. Lorne Matalon also filed a Fronteras news report in January 2013.

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Formalizing A Border Crossing At Boquillas

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[audio:http://lornematalon.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Boquillas_Final_audio.mp3]

 

BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK, Texas — A formal border crossing with Mexico will open soon, linking Rio Grande Village — located inside Big Bend National Park in Texas — and the village of Boquillas, Mexico. Documents have now been sent to the government printing office, one of the final steps before a new border station opens. This story is part of the Fronteras Desk project, a reporting initiative led by a consortium of NPR stations in the southwest.

A Mexican citizen paddles his canoe from the northern shoreline of the Rio Grande into Coahuila, Mex. near Boquillas.

A Mexican citizen paddles his canoe from the northern shoreline of the Rio Grande into Coahuila, Mex. near Boquillas.

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People on either side used to cross freely to exchange goods and services. But after 9-11, the United States declared all informal crossings such as this one illegal. There are hopes on both sides of the border that this legal border crossing will bring economic revival.

The border may be sealed at Boquillas, Mexico. But the solitary sound of a Mexican man singing — his name is Victor Valdez — soars across the river. He asks, “Want to hear another song?”

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Mezcal Production Drawing Mexicans Back Home

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An unexpected rise in the popularity of a relatively undiscovered traditional indigenous drink is bringing some people home to a remote village in southern Mexico.

Distilled mezcal is filtered into a storage drum.

Distilled mezcal is filtered into a storage drum.

SAN LUIS DEL RIO, Mex. — It’s after midnight at Bar Añejo in Manhattan. Añejo means ‘aged’. On this night–in this place–it means “the nectar of a Mexican plant that’s been lovingly grown, and you’re about to sip it.”

“We’re having a midnight mezcal de Oaxaca….”

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Longing For The ‘Good Old Bad Days’ In Chihuahua

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MANUEL BENAVIDES, Chihuahua, Mexico — Mexico swears in a new president on Saturday. And the hope is Enrique Peña Nieto will be able to boost the economy and stabilize security. Both might be achieved if the nation ends its war on the drug cartels. In northern Chihuahua, citizens explain their hopes for a new government and their yearning to live without terror.

The people are friendly and welcoming in the remote village of Manuel Benavides, a beautiful place near the U.S.-Mexico border but about two hours southeast of Presidio, Texas.

 

Bullet holes pockmark the walls of an abandoned tienda near Manuel Benavides, Chihuahua, Mexico.

Bullet holes pockmark the walls of an abandoned tienda near Manuel Benavides, Chihuahua, Mexico.

But everyone’s terrified. No one wants to speak. Like much of Chihuahua, like much of Mexico, the truth is elusive, opaque and silence is the best policy.

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Mexico Interview: Lorne Matalon, Liz Rogers, John Waters

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Public radio reporter Lorne Matalon, federal public defender Liz Rogers, Big Bend Gazette publisher John Waters, and station manager Tom Michael conduct a KRTS roundtable on borderland issues, including drugs, immigration, and international politics.

You can podcast Lorne Matalon’s recent KRTS News reports on Mexico here.

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Mexico: Human Rights Abuse Allegations & Military Justice

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Mexican soldiers patrol Ojinaga, Chihuahua, Mexico, during the anniversary of the Mexican Revolution, November 2012. KRTS photo by Lorne Matalon.

Mexican soldiers patrol Ojinaga, Chihuahua, Mexico, during the anniversary of the Mexican Revolution, November 2012. KRTS photo by Lorne Matalon.

The Mexican Supreme Court recently ruled that General Manuel de Jesus Moreno Avina, who was in charge of the Ojinaga military garrison for 18 months – beginning in 2008 – should be tried for human rights crimes in a civil court. This would mark a departure from what the constitution currently stipulates: that military crimes be tried before a closed, secret military tribunal.

For KRTS News, Lorne Matalon reports from Ojinaga, Mexico.

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Possible Mexico Cartel Connection Probed in Texas

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A discovery in Marfa of 500 lbs of marijuana on a school bus on its way to Presidio, Texas. Across the border, in Ojinaga, Mexico, a corrupt Mexican general that may be tried in a civilian court.

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Mexico: Legal Precedent Set for Military Trial

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A patrol on the streets of Ojinaga, Chihuahua, Mexico during celebrations for the anniversary of the Mexican Revolution. Photo by Lorne Matalon.

A patrol on the streets of Ojinaga, Chihuahua, Mexico during celebrations for the anniversary of the Mexican Revolution. (Lorne Matalon)

Mexico is celebrating the 102nd anniversary of the start of the Mexican Revolution this week. In Ojinaga, citizens are paying homage to the past but also to the future. This week, a leak of documents in Mexico City shows that a disgraced former Mexican general will be tries in a civilian court rather in than a closed military trial. Citizens remain scarred by the reign of terror allegedly unleashed by Major General Manuel de Jesús Moreno Aviña. He stands accused of systematic abuses in 2008 and 2009 in Ojinaga, Chihuahua. According to the Mexican daily Reforma, General Moreno Aviña is responsible for at least seven summary executions and deciding which detained individuals would disappear.

KRTS General Manager spoke with reporter Lorne Matalon after he returned from Ojinaga.

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Soldier Who Fought for Adopted Land Dies in Iraq

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Lee Christian Wilson died in northern Iraq after a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle. Wilson lived in in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. A legal resident of the United States, Wilson was a Canadian citizen who joined the U.S. Army in 2001 to fight for his adopted country.

Lee Christian Wilson, a Canadian citizen, was killed when a roadside bomb exploded on a road in Mosul, Iraq, on Sept. 6, 2007. The military is working to grant Wilson U.S. citizenship posthumously.

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A Somber All-American Week at Fort Bragg

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Each year, the city of Fayetteville, N.C., celebrates All-American Week to honor the military service members who serve at nearby Fort Bragg.

Organizers canceled this year’s event because so many soldiers are deployed overseas, and many Bragg-based personnel have died in Iraq and Afghanistan in the past few months.

But one event would not be canceled — a memorial for recently fallen members of the 82nd Airborne Division. Even as the service took place Wednesday, other 82nd Airborne paratroopers were getting ready for imminent deployment.

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Duke Lacrosse Team Starts a Fresh Season

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Duke University’s men’s lacrosse team begins a new season Saturday. The 2006 season was suspended after rape allegations and a case plagued by conflicting testimony. Lorne Matalon of North Carolina Public Radio reports on the team’s efforts to press ahead.

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Saving Panthers

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[audio:npr/Everglades_ Panther_Genetics.mp3]

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National Park Service biologist Sunny Bass tracks signals from a radio collar on one of the panthers.

One of the world’s largest wetlands, the Florida Everglades, is threatened by development. It provides South Florida’s water supply, and it’s also a refuge for numerous species of plants and animals. As part of an effort to restore the everglades, biologists have introduced mountain lions from Texas to a threatened population of Florida panthers, the apex predator in the Everglades terrestrial ecosystem. Biologists say the panthers’ health is a barometer of overall environmental health. Scientists say the news so far is encouraging.

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Passaro Found Guilty

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Update: A live version of this story is available below.

 

A former CIA contractor from North Carolina was found guilty on charges he beat an Afghan detainee who later died while in custody. David Passaro was found guilty on three counts of simple assault and one count of assault resulting in serious bodily injury. He was the first American civilian charged with prisoner abuse since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began. Lorne Matalon reports.

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Fishermen Struggle to Survive

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North Carolina’s commercial fishermen and women are facing severe economic challenges right now. There are fewer fish to harvest, and developers are buying up the waterfront land where fisherman dock their boats and unload their catch. So fewer people are making their living in a profession that has been a hallmark of the state’s maritime heritage. North Carolina Public Radio’s Lorne Matalon reports.

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