Migrants rush border in Tijuana with no US-Mexico asylum deal in sight

Tensions at the U.S. border with Mexico have escalated, with some Central American migrants trying to breach the crossing between Tijuana and California.

Observers say it’s a bid to pressure the U.S. to hear their asylum claims, as Alasdair Baverstock reports.

I produced this package for CGTN America.

English proficiency is ‘down’ in Mexico

English proficiency is down in Mexico according to recently published statistics.

It’s a trend that English teachers in the country see as worrying for the next generations’ future.

CGTN’s Alasdair Baverstock reports from Downtown Mexico City.

I produced and filmed this Facebook Live for CGTN America.

Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán’s trial starts in US

Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán is accused of leading one of the most powerful drug cartels in Mexico.

But at the start of his trial in New York he has claimed he is just a scapegoat and the actual leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel have Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on their side.

I joined TRT World’s Money Talks to talk about the story live from Mexico City.

Stray dogs in Mexico’s ‘Pueblos Mágicos’ being ‘poisoned’ by authorities, activists claim

Street dogs are rescued from a mine in Mineral del Monte (credit Lorena Rivera Garnica)

Three so-called ‘magical towns’ in Mexico have been accused of poisoning street dogs in order to clean up their image for tourists, a claim that’s rejected by administrators of the towns.

Mineral del Monte and Mineral del Chico in the state of Hidalgo, and Tlalpujahua in Michoacán, all have the prized ‘Pueblo Mágico’ designation.

Inaugurated in 2001, the program aims to promote some of Mexico’s most beautiful towns as alternative tourist destinations to beach resorts.

But in the name of promoting an idealized image to visitors, some towns have allegedly been poisoning dogs—and not just strays but some with owners.

The municipal authorities in Mineral del Chico and Tlalpujahua denied involvement in the poisoning of dogs when they were asked about accusations made by animal-welfare groups; the town council of Mineral del Monte has declined to respond.

The Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción in the centre of Mineral del Monte, Hidalgo, México (credit Diego Delso, taken 10.10.13)

Hidalgo state tourism board secretary Eduardo Baños told The Epoch Times there have been instances of canine poisoning in “different municipalities in the state,” while stopping short of blaming municipal authorities.

“To begin with, it should be pointed out that rather than a policy, a series of unfortunate contingencies have arisen in different municipalities in the state.

“We have said on different occasions that these are reprehensible acts which conflict with the image we want to project,” he said.

“We reiterate that the state government doesn’t approve of this type of action and we believe there is a responsibility to face these kinds of problems [with street dog populations], with appropriate education to ensure these living beings are respected and protected.”

Read the full story at theepochtimes.com

Caravan migrants willing to ‘climb that wall,’ claim asylum to get jobs

As thousands of Central Americans travel north in caravans toward the U.S. border, several of the travellers explained that they’re having trouble getting a job in their home country or that they want a better one.

For that reason, they’re willing to go to great lengths to apply for asylum in the United States.

“People come with the hope of breaking the wall [at the border], and they are going to break it, through faith in God,” said Moises Esu Vidal Sanchez, 24, (pictured above).

He worked as a taxi driver in the Honduran capital of San Pedro Sula, but embarked on the journey to escape personal issues.

“My mother passed away and there is nothing there for me now,” he said.

Traveling with a group of five male friends, he said he was willing to settle in Mexico.

“I like Mexico and I’m pleased to be here,” he said. “Everywhere, there is work—if you search for it, there is work.”

That doesn’t mean, however, he agrees with the United States limiting immigration.

“He [President Donald Trump] has to open the border, so all the world can pass,” Sanchez said.

I contributed reporting and photos to this piece, the full version of which can be read here at theepochtimes.com

Mexico’s Day of the Dead gets underway with procession for deceased children

Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebrations honor those who’ve died by remembering them and the lives they lived. 

CGTN’s Alasdair Baverstock visited the town of Tultepec north of Mexico City to find out how locals celebrate in their own special way with a march in memory of deceased children.

I produced this digital video about the ‘Farolitos’ parade, posted here on the CGTN America Facebook page.

For families of ‘the disappeared’ in Mexico, the search goes on

Members of a collective for families of the disappeared, Rastreadoras por la Paz, on a search around Los Mochis, Sinaloa

Miriam Báez Murillo is a rarity in Mexico. The fact that her son was forcibly ‘disappeared’ isn’t rare at all—there are more than 37,000 people on the official register of disappeared persons.

What is rare about Murillo is that she is ‘lucky’ enough to have actually found the remains of her son, José Manuel Herrera Báez, who disappeared at the age of 26 on May 27, 2017.

Criminal gangs, police, and the army, sometimes at the behest of local authorities, have been abducting people with virtual impunity in frightening numbers since the country’s drug war was militarized in 2006.

Murillo is one of the less than one per cent of families of people on the ‘disappeared’ registry who have had the remains of their loved ones found and formally identified.

That’s 340 people, or 0.91 per cent, of the 37,485 on the official list.

José Manuel Herrera Báez, son of Miriam Báez Murillo

Báez disappeared after he was allegedly arrested by municipal police at the home of his girlfriend, in the city of Mazatlán in the northwestern Pacific state of Sinaloa.

His remains were found about six months after he disappeared, in a field outside the city by a ‘colectivo’ on one of their búsquedas, or searches.

There are dozens of such groups across Mexico comprised of kin of the disappeared. They search for their lost family members, they say, while the authorities do nothing.

“The people who find their loved ones in this way, we cannot understand the immensity of it, because we always have hope of finding them alive,” Murillo said, recalling the day she heard her son had been found.

“The sadness is enormous and that’s something we have to cope with.”

Read the full story at theepochtimes.com

Hurricane Willa live hits

As Mexico braced itself for what was expected to be one of the strongest storms to hit its Pacific coast, I joined Canada’s CTV News Channel to discuss preparations for Hurricane Willa.

I also reported on the impact of the storm with a follow-up appearance the next day:

The hits can be seen here and here on the CTV News Channel Facebook page.

Pet-sitting app DogHero takes off in Mexico

Hailed as the Airbnb for pets, DogHero is taking off in Mexico, a country where man’s best friend is number one.

CGTN’s Alasdair Baverstock talked to a pet owner and her sitter.

I produced this digital video which was posted to the CGTN America Facebook page.

Despite love for pet dogs, Mexico has highest number of stray dogs in region

Pet dogs are extremely popular in Mexico. 

In the evenings the parks of Mexico City are teeming with dog walkers often stopping to chat with other owners they only know through a shared passion for their pets.

But there is a dark side to this picture of harmony between man and his best friend.

According to Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography, 70 percent of Mexico’s estimated 18 million dogs live on the street, either born as strays or abandoned by their owners.

The country has the largest number of street dogs in Latin America.

Dog Angie is examined by veterinary doctor Jose Carlos Hernandez Trejo at the Clinica Veterinaria Delegacional in Venustiano Carranza, Mexico City, 10.10.18 (Tim MacFarlan)

The most recent figures from Mexico City’s department of health estimate there are 1.2 million strays roaming the streets of the capital alone.

The Clinica Veterinaria Delegacional is a small shelter in Venustiano Carranza, one of Mexico City’s 16 boroughs.

Tucked away in the shadows of a raised subway track it does its best to give a second chance to the small fraction of the city’s strays fortunate enough to end up there.

Jose Carlos Hernandez Trejo, 26, is a veterinary doctor at the clinic, which receives support from local animal charity the Antonio Haghenbeck Foundation.

Achilles the cat in his cage at the Clinica Veterinaria Delegacional in Venustiano Carranza, Mexico City, 10.10.18 (Tim MacFarlan)

It is Trejo’s job to give all new arrivals a medical examination, administer any appropriate vaccinations, and carry out sterilizations, an important way of controlling the stray dog population.

The shelter currently has around 40 cats and dogs living in cages laid out across a concrete courtyard but that can rise to 80 at certain times of year.

“There are periods when there are going to be a lot more animals abandoned—February, March, April, and up until May,” Trejo said.

He speculates that the reason is that many people receive pets as Christmas gifts in December, and then later abandon them.

The courtyard at the Clinica Veterinaria Delegacional in Venustiano Carranza, Mexico City, 10.10.18 (Tim MacFarlan)

“People think they’re a thing or an object, not a living being that needs food, water, attention, washing, and plenty of care.

“Later they don’t understand when it goes to the bathroom or bites their child. They generate problems and then they end up here.”

Read the full story at theepochtimes.com

Pictured at the top of this post, a dog without a name in a cage at Dog at Clinica Veterinaria Delegacional in Venustiano Carranza, Mexico City, 10.10.18 (Tim MacFarlan)