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A weekend demonstration in the Arizona and Sonora, Mexico, border towns of Nogales aimed to bring attention to increased militarization of the border, and to halt further construction of the wall that divides the two countries. Activists from across both countries — including Nestora Salgado, an indigenous rights leader and community police leader from Seattle who was released from prison in Mexico earlier this year after kidnapping charges against her were dismissed — joined hundreds at the wall for the protest.
The three-day event, Encuentro en la Frontera, which included talks, meetings, art and music, was organized by SOA Watch, which aims to close the controversial U.S. Army-run School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Ga.
The Guardian, meanwhile, examined the growing militarization of the border in a report last week:
The US–Mexico border that took the life of Sergio Guereca is a microcosm of a global change, its increased militarisation not in response to a military threat but focused entirely on preventing the movement of civilians.
Crimes Past and Present
Sept. 26 marked the two-year anniversary of the Ayotzinapa disappearances, in which 43 students from the Raul Isidro Burgos teaching school in Guerrero state were led away at gunpoint by police and military. Police fired at the unarmed students during the 2014 confrontation, leaving six people dead — including a pregnant woman who had been riding a bus and a teenage soccer player who was passing in a taxi. (The body of one student was found in a field the next day. His face had been flayed and his eyes cut out.)
The anniversary was marked by demonstrations, including a gathering in front of the Mexican Consulate building in San Diego and a caravan in Tijuana, as well as calls to bring back the remaining students alive and renewed scrutiny of Mexico’s long and ugly history of forced disappearances.
Gunmen shot eight people in the same area of Guerrero state on Oct. 4, killing five. Two of the dead were also Ayotzinapa students.
• Tijuana’s murder rate continues to rise, raising the specter of 2008, one of its bloodiest years in recent memory. The city’s murder rates for 2016 still remain below those reported for St. Louis and Baltimore in 2015, the two United States cities with the highest homicide rates.
Tijuana is one of 50 cities in Mexico targeted by a new federal anti-crime initiative that was launched this month.
Haitian Crisis Continues Post-Matthew
The great flood of mostly Haitian nationals arriving in Tijuana and Mexicali in order to seek humanitarian parole in the United States has reached crisis proportions and shows little signs of slowing, as tents spill from shelters and out into the street all along the border between Baja California and California.
Families have been split apart by the U.S.’s abrupt decision to tighten and enforce existing immigration laws and resume deportation of Haitians who have arrived in the U.S. without documentation, leaving parents separated from their children and wives separated from husbands.
Mexicali, too, is feeling the effects of the surge of people arriving from all over the world but mostly from Haiti, Senegal and the Congo.
Meanwhile, the death toll in Haiti from Hurricane Matthew is in the hundreds, and its cholera epidemic shows no signs of slowing, which may drive more people from Haiti to seek refuge in other countries.
Univision and Fusion have teamed up for the “RiseUp As One” concert along the border. The event, which will take place on the U.S. side at the Cross Border Xpress in Otay Mesa, will be broadcast live in both English and Spanish. The show will feature performances from Lila Downs, Los Tigres del Norte, hometown heroine Julieta Venegas, Juanes, and more. Tickets are free, but have to be won by the general public.
The show aims to bridge cultures and countries and promote, as its name suggests, unity between Mexico and the United States.
• Tijuana Innovadora is scheduled for Nov. 3-10. The Tijuana fair is designed to showcase the city’s unique placement along the international border, along with the creative influence of the border on businesses of the region.
A Cross-Border Queen
This year’s Miss Baja California is a journalism major at San Diego State University who tells the Daily Aztec that she represents both countries. Pageant winner Nancy Moeller has received some criticism because she was born in the United States, but the Mexican-American San Diego native grew up on both sides of the border. Moeller, 23, plans to compete for the title of Miss Mexico in January 2017.