SNAPSHOTS FROM THE BORDER
My involvement with Mexico began in the late 50s when, as a student, I hitchhiked around the country for a month. Later, I went often as a tourist and with climbing friends to climb the volcanoes. In the 90s, as Director of the Colorado International Trade Office, I opened a Colorado trade office in Guadalajara and not only led many trade missions to Mexico but also initiated an air quality program whereby we brought together Colorado and Mexico City air pollution experts and government officials. Then in 2006 I went to report on the elections. That led several years later to this reporting on border issues.
The real change occurred six years ago when I began driving down from Santa Fe at least once a month, mostly to Juárez and the much smaller town of Palomas to the west. My goal is to document the much under-reported humanitarian side of border life as opposed to the violence and killing that we read so much about. In addition, I try to assist a number of programs and individuals whether it be with money I raise, my articles which often produce donations or used clothing, food and shoes.
The key to this has been the friendships I’ve made and the respect I feel for so many of the people I’ve met. Some I see frequently like Yeira whose quinceañera I helped sponsor, Cecilia who is always at the Santa Teresa trying in vain to sell her trinkets, Blanca and Marta in the mental asylum or Pedro whose wife, Josefina has just died, leaving him to want to go soon too. Others are more chance encounters. The enduring dignity of all of them, however, is the major reason I keep going back.
THese snapshots are just a handful of the ones I've taken over the years.