In 2011 and 2012, the small New Mexico border community of Sunland Park made regional headlines and national news for its political scandals. Delving into the sensational, the media coverage largely glossed over long-running environmental troubles affecting the lives of the town’s residents on a daily basis.
“Las Historias Escondidas de Sunland Park (The Hidden Histories of Sunland Park) helps fill the gap by exploring crucial environmental issues that impact the nearly 15,000 residents of a mainly Spanish-speaking, low-income community bordering Texas and Mexico.
Produced by Kent Paterson and Mercedes Mejia, the half-hour radio documentary in Spanish explores historic conflicts including the battle over Sunland Park’s landfill, the shut-down Asarco smelter and water, an issue driving the future of the border region and beyond in the 21st century. Listeners will hear from longtime residents, environmental activists, elected officials and others.
Commentary provided by Dr. Guillermina Nunez, professor of anthropology at the University of Texas in neighboring El Paso, and Dr. David Henkel, professor emeritus of the University of New Mexico.
Although in some ways unique, Sunland Park’s experiences are shared by other U.S.-Mexico border communities grappling with governance, environmental justice and economic development issues.