Notes from ChicanAztlan: Media Matters on the Border

When it comes to protestors and government reaction, an uninformed or misinformed population can be easily misled

By John Edward Rangel
Published on LatinoLA: April 2, 2015

Notes from ChicanAztlan: Media Matters on the Border

The fourth estate has lost a lot of credibility since I was a kid and it is definitely a sad thing to see. I feel that there are several reasons why this is so and I will give you an example.

On February 26th, an incident took place at the Tijuana-San Ysidro border crossing. A group of about 100 demonstrators who disagree with Mexican federal regulations on importing used cars from the US blocked vehicle traffic into the US. According to the UT San Diego article written by Sandra Dibble about the incident, "As dozens of police officers stood by the demonstrators left voluntarily by 10:30 am."

At that moment I was on the steps leading to the pedestrian bridge and that is neither what I saw or recorded.

I had been following the story of the planned blockade for a couple of days, ever since I'd seen one of the groups leaders on a local television news broadcast saying that they planned to shut down the border for two hours and would not be deterred.

On that morning I took the blue and white bus that is known as the airport bus because that stop is on its route. It also passes by the Otay Mesa border crossing and the San Ysidro crossing. At Otay Mesa, a smaller group of protestors was blocking the commercial truck crossing but the public vehicle and pedestrian lanes were open.

At San Ysidro, that was not the case. Here the vehicle traffic (there is no commercial vehicle crossing here) was blocked by a throng of demonstrators. As was reported in the UT article, there were local (municipal) police officers standing in a group and facing the blockading crowd. What the UT failed to report was that behind them were a group of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto's vaunted new paramilitary police force known as the gendarmes. EPN created this force to combat insecurity across the nation. They have been deployed to such trouble spots in Mexico as Michoacan and Sinaloa.

They were dressed in camouflage military uniforms and full riot gear. In a couple of still photos that I took it appears that a man in civilian clothes and holding a walkie talkie was commanding the unit. A phalanx of the troops formed into a skirmish line and began marching toward the protestors. The crowd was sent scurrying about half an hour before the two hours they were intending to stay.

That is what really happened there on that day. From the photo that accompanies the article it appears that the photographer, John Gibbins, was standing on the same foot bridge as I. But I was on the steps leading up to where he must have been. He would have been able to take some awesome shots of the unfolding events. Much more so than from my angled position.

On a greater scale I feel that the above described event is linked to the clashes that have taken place outside of Acapulco between teachers and federal forces on the Airport road as well as the incidents taking place just south of here between striking farmworkers and federal forces along the Ensenada-San Quintin road. Another reason why it is so important to tell the truth.

An uninformed or misinformed population is easily misled. San Diegans and Tijuanenses deserve better.


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