Frontera NorteSur: History in an E-Box

Hope that what promises to be a very interesting new year finds everyone well.

If you missed any of our stories in 2015, you can always check out our monthly archives where you will find FNS original feature stories, special reports, contributions by New Mexico State University student writers, photo essays and, of course, our regular syntheses and analyses of news appearing in the Mexican press.

On our website (see the link at the bottom of the article), you’ll read about the still unresolved disappearances of the 43 Ayotzinapa college students and many other people in different regions of Mexico.

In 2015 Frontera Norte was among the first- if not the first-of English language media outlets to report on the mass farmworker uprising in the Baja California agro-export zone, as well as the similarly historic movement of the border factory (maquiladora) workers in Ciudad Juarez for better working conditions and independent union representation.

We covered the controversial court case of six men accused in the mass disappearances and murders of young women in Ciudad Juarez, the continued struggle of Mexican political prisoner Nestora Salgado, and the second escape of drug kingpin Chapo Guzman. FNS looked at efforts in cross-border jaguar protection, groundwater shortages on the border and binational management of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo.

Our photo essays documented the redevelopment of downtown Ciudad Juarez, and profiled the grassroots mural movement in honor of the disappeared and murdered women of the border city that visually transformed the city while countering attempts to erase victims’ memories from the socio-historical landscape.

In the early days of 2015 Frontera NorteSur took special note of the passing of Julio Scherer Garcia, founder of Mexico’s Proceso newsweekly and the grand old dean of Mexican journalism. Scherer was preceded in death only by weeks by his colleague and Proceso co-founder Vicente Lenero. Now, in early 2016, Mexico is mourning the December 23 passing of Enrique Maza Garcia, Scherer’s cousin and the last of Proceso’s big three founders.

Born into a family in 1929 El Paso that had fled the violence of the Cristero War south of the border and later trained as a Jesuit priest in Mexico, Maza was perhaps the cross-border-and cross-worlds- renaissance man bar none. Sadly, in his last years on this earth he suffered from Alzheimer’s.

Maza studied journalism at the University of Missouri, and got an entirely different education as a death row priest in the U.S., where he witnessed the execution of two men-one in the gas chamber and the other in the electric chair.

Back in Mexico, he denounced the powerful Hanks, pillars of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, from a parish pulpit in the backyard of the family’s power base in Mexico state, and clashed with the Church hierarchy over reproductive and women’s rights.

The Jesuit thinker composed poems and wrote political essays. His writings spanned both the spritual and the secular, taking on the heavens, hell and the harlots of power. Maza and Scherer co-authored a prescient 1979 article on the Iranian Revolution that is referential reading for understanding today’s political and moral upheavels in the region.

From behind the scenes, Maza is credited for developing Proceso’s journalism ethics. “Without them,” recently wrote Mexican poet and human rights activist Javier Sicila of the unforgettable trio of Scherer, Maza and Lenero, “today’s journalism might have no capacity to resist the temptations of power to silence it.”

At Frontera NorteSur, and for anyone who wants to understand Mexico, Proceso is obligatory reading.

The year 2015 was also a very busy one north of the border for Frontera NorteSur.

A special series examined the lives of El Paso’s former Asarco smelter workers, who suffer sickness and disease years after the closure of the plant but are mired in a bureaucratic “health care” maze and seemingly abandoned by political indifference.

FNS reported on immigrant farmworkers in New Mexico, the ogoing battle over immigrant driver’s licenses in the Land of Enchanment, the local agriculture movement in the Paso del Norte, the protests by thousands of high school students against New Mexico’s PARCC test, the revival of Native activism in the Southwest borderlands, and the historic recognition by the Albuquerque City Council of October 12 as Indigenous Peoples Day in New Mexico’s biggest city.

Unfortunately, Frontera NorteSur’s early projections of a violent year in store for Albuquerque were borne out by the news this week that the Duke City’s murder rate increased 35 percent last year. Worse yet, preliminary numbers compiled by FNS show an even higher 2015 homicide toll for the greater Albuquerque metro area, as opposed to just the city per se. Perhaps more on that later.

Special recognition for last year’s work goes out to New Mexico State student writers Nicolas Cabrera, Laura Iesue, Kyle Fields and Marianne L Bowers. Also kudos to writer-photographers Bob Chessey, Marisela Ortega and Andy Beale for their collaborations on various stories and photo essays.

Our expanded coverage was made possible by the determined support of some readers who dug into their pockets and helped keep this news service going. When Frontera NorteSur was undergoing a rough period last summer, the voices of still others greatly aiding in saving this journalistic project for the time being. Whether because of your pocketbook or your pen, you all are most appreciated.

And remember, another way of supporting Frontera NorteSur and ensuring that 2016 is just as successful as 2015 is by encouraging your friends, relatives, colleagues, students, and acquaintances to sign up for our e-mailed stories ( which always appear in your in-box before they are posted on the website. In this way, readers are assured of seeing history in motion as it develops.

¡Feliz ano nuevo!

-Kent Paterson

For the FNS archives:
Frontera NorteSur: on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news Center for Latin American and Border Studies New Mexico State University Las Cruces, New Mexico

For a free electronic subscription

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