News From the Border

Providing the news from a different front but from a war that we must win as well! I recognize the poverty and desperate conditions that many Latinos live in. We, as the USA, have a responsibility to do as much as we can to reach out to aid and assist spiritually with the Gospel and naturally with training, technology and resources. But poverty gives no one the right to break the laws of another sovereign nation.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Mexico: On the brink of Marxism

Posted: June 30, 2006
1:00 a.m. Eastern
By David T. Pyne
© 2006

It is perhaps the most significant potential threat to U.S. national security with regards to our southern neighbor since Poncho Villa raided a U.S. border town in 1916. Mexico will be holding its presidential election on July 2, which will determine whether Mexico, with its nearly 2,000 mile border with the U.S., joins an emerging anti-American Marxist alliance in Latin America. It will decide whether Mexico follows Venezuela's example in becoming a state sponsor of terrorism with a potential pool of 12-20 million illegal immigrant recruits already inside our borders, a couple of million of whom recently conducted mass demonstrations against our country, or continues to be ruled by the much more mainstream PAN party.

Agency says Mexico's election results will be clear, fair

By S. Lynne Walker
June 30, 2006

MEXICO CITY – As Mexicans prepare to cast their ballots Sunday in the presidential election, the spotlight has shifted from the three candidates to the electoral agency that will reveal which of them is the winner.

The Federal Electoral Institute, or IFE, is the agency Mexicans are relying on to make sure the election results are unassailable.

With the candidates so close that it's impossible to predict a winner, the IFE must be sure that every step of the voting process is so meticulously carried out that Mexicans believe the agency when it announces the name of their next president.

Sunday's election is a critical test for the IFE.

Presidential contest in Mexico a virtual tie as campaign ends

By S. Lynne Walker
June 29, 2006

MEXICO CITY – As the last bits of confetti fluttered over more than 200,000 people gathered at leftist candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador's final rally, Mexicans' uncertainty about who will be their next president was as palpable as it was on the first day of the campaign.

The campaign season officially ended yesterday after six months of personal insults and mudslinging. But the race is so tight and the electorate so volatile that no one can predict the outcome of Sunday's election.

Roy Campos, president of Consulta Mitofsky polling firm, expects a record 40 million people to cast ballots.

“Why are so many people going to vote? Because for the first time, the presidential race has three (credible) candidates, three political parties and three platforms,” Campos said.

In Mexico's fledgling democracy, choosing among three fiercely competitive candidates has been a new and, for some, unsettling process.

Organized crime link probed in deaths

Rosarito officers beheaded last week
By Anna Cearley
June 30, 2006

TIJUANAMexico's top federal prosecutor yesterday said police connections with organized crime may have contributed to the beheadings of three Rosarito Beach police officers last week.

“What we are seeing is that organized crime is penetrating many police groups, and this is the line of investigation that we have,” Mexican Attorney General Daniel Cabeza de Vaca said during a news conference at the Hotel Camino Real.

Cabeza de Vaca stopped short of saying whether the officers and a civilian who was killed with them were believed to have been involved in organized crime.

Standing Ground on Border Security

By Amy Fagan and Stephen Dinan
The Washington Times | June 30, 2006

The House majority leader yesterday refused to budge from demanding a strong border-security bill and would not embrace Senate talk of broad legislation that would trigger a guest-worker program and other immigration changes once the borders are secure.

"I'm not going to negotiate this bill -- between the House and Senate -- through the press," Rep. John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said after he was asked repeatedly about recent Senate developments.

Mr. Boehner said House leaders instead will continue their plan to hold hearings next month to highlight flaws in the Senate-passed immigration bill, which includes citizenship for millions of illegal aliens, and the strengths of the House bill, which focuses on securing the border and enforcing immigration laws. He said the hearings will, in part, "strengthen our hand as we go into these negotiations" with the Senate.

In recent days, key senators have indicated that they are willing to accept a bill that puts the initial focus on enforcement, and particularly border security, as long as it eventually includes a path to citizenship and a new foreign-worker program.

A timeline of Mexican democracy

The Associated Press
Published: 06.30.2006

1929: Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which would go on to rule Mexico for 71 years, is created.

Oct. 2, 1968: Government forces open fire on a student protest in a Mexico City square, killing an unknown number of people just before the capital hosts the Olympics.

Sept. 19, 1985: Two strong earthquakes level parts of Mexico City. Frustration with the government's sluggish response strengthens opposition parties.

1988: Allegations that the PRI stole presidential election from the Democratic Revolution Party, PRD, prompt demands for fairer elections.

1989: PRI acknowledges an opposition party victory for governor for the first time.

1990: Mexico creates the autonomous Federal Electoral Institute, which will go on to monitor relatively clean elections.

Jan. 1, 1994: Mexico joins U.S. and Canada in the North American Free Trade Agreement. On the day the pact takes effect, Zapatista rebels stage an uprising, seizing towns in southern Mexico and demanding Indian rights.

December 1994: The peso is devalued, sparking a financial crisis that eventually forces President Clinton to put together a $20 billion bailout. Mexico pays off loan ahead of schedule, creates strong central bank and adopts conservative fiscal policies to prevent more meltdowns.

1997: PRI loses absolute majority in Congress for the first time; now the president must negotiate to pass bills.

July 2, 2000: Election of Vicente Fox as president ends PRI's uninterrupted hold on power.

Sunday: The first presidential elections to be held since Fox's historic victory.

Mexican election: Tucsonans help make the call

Using power of the vote to make change
Published: 06.30.2006

Never mind the immigration rights rallies earlier this year.

This weekend, you're going to see some serious activism.

As Mexico prepares for the election of its next president Sunday, its citizens in Tucson and other cities throughout the United States will weigh in.

It is the first election in which Mexico's expatriates are allowed to vote by mail and the second in which they are allowed to vote at all.

Tucsonans Pedro, Teo, Florencio, "Chumel," Lupita and Manuel will have their say.

Jesus "Chumel" Gomez, 59, is still undecided on whom he will support when he returns to Hermosillo, Son., on Sunday to vote.

But his message to his countrymen in the United States is most definitely emphatic.

"Stop marching and protesting in the United States," said Gomez, a housekeeper with dual citizenship. "Don't send money back to Mexico for one day. And then vote."

That would get Mexico's attention.

House affirms right of bilingual balloting


WASHINGTON — The House agreed Wednesday to affirm the right of voters in areas with large populations of non-English-speaking citizens to cast ballots in their native language.

The 254-167 roll call in support of bilingual balloting came just a week after GOP divisions over the issue contributed to the postponement of a House vote to renew the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act.

"If you have the good fortune to be able to vote in the United States, then it is not too much to ask that this be accomplished in English," said Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla. "I don't think the United States government should be forced to pay for (bilingual) assistance."

The bilingual balloting vote came on an amendment by Stearns as the House debated a $59.8 billion measure funding the annual budgets of the departments of Justice, Commerce and State.

Agents find drugs hidden in motorboat


A U.S. Border Patrol agent who thought he was pulling over to assist a motorist experiencing motor trouble instead found more than $700,000 worth of drugs hidden in a motorboat.

Border Patrol Spokesman Rick Hays said the agent was traveling on a Dome Valley road Monday around 6 p.m. when he spotted a 1998 Ford Expedition pulling a motorboat.

Upon spotting the agent, the driver of the vehicle immediately pulled off to the side of the road.

Upon closer inspection the agent found a hidden compartment near the bow of the boat containing about 874 pounds of marijuana and 64 vials of ketamine, a tranquilizer known as "special k," which is used as a date-rape drug.

"That's something we don't see on a regular basis," Hays said.

The estimated street value of the marijuana is $699,000 and of ketamine $18,000.

Hays said this year Border Patrol has seized more than 39,000 pounds of marijuana valued at $31 million.

Guard to Miss Border Mission Deadline

Associated Press Writer
, Calif.

The Bush administration has been unable to muster even half of the 2,500 National Guardsmen it planned to have on the Mexican border by the end of June.

As of Thursday, the next-to-last day of the month, fewer than 1,000 troops were in place, according to military officials in the four border states of Texas, California, New Mexico and Arizona.

President Bush's plan called for all 50 states to send troops. But only 10 states _ including the four border states _ have signed commitments.

Some state officials have argued that they cannot free up Guardsmen because of flooding in the East, wildfires in the West or the prospect of hurricanes in the South.

"It's not a combat priority. It is a volunteer mission," said Kristine Munn, spokeswoman for the National Guard Bureau, an arm of the Pentagon, "so it's a question of balancing the needs of the Border Patrol with the needs of 54 states and territories, and all those balls roll in different directions."

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Back on line!!

After several weeks on the road, I am finally back on line.

Keep checking back for daily updates now!



On way to U.S., girl held captive at border hotel

Problem is not new, officials say
By Onell R. Soto

The 16-year-old girl thought she was dealing with smugglers in Tijuana, but her attempt to get across the border took a bad turn when she was held captive for ransom.

Pay the money, her relatives said they were told last week, and the girl – who was being held in a hotel – will be released in the United States.

“Once the money was paid, they told her it didn't work out and gave her 20 pesos,” said Lauren Mack, spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is investigating the case.

The problem, Mack said, was that the people holding the girl never intended to help her cross the border.

The girl's relatives “were actually (negotiating) with individuals posing as smugglers who ended up extorting them,” she said.

It is a situation investigators in her agency have come across three times in the past year, Mack said.

Senate warms to 'border first'

By Amy Fagan
Published June 28, 2006

Key backers of the Senate immigration bill said yesterday they are willing to consider a compromise that would delay the guest-worker program and "amnesty" portions until the borders have been secured.

The proposal was floated by Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter in an interview Monday with editors and reporters at The Washington Times.

"I think it's worth discussing," said Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican. "Many of us have said we could work on border enforcement and, at the same time, work on other aspects that would take more time."

CBP Border Patrol Nets Over $600,000 Thousand During Cocaine Seizure

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — CBP Border Patrol agents in Las Cruces, N.M. seized more than $600,000 worth of cocaine that was being smuggled into the United States in a hidden compartment Friday afternoon. Agents manning a traffic checkpoint on Interstate 25 discovered the drugs.

Friday afternoon at 12:30 p.m., Border Patrol agents working at the I-25 Border Patrol checkpoint encountered a green Ford Focus driven by a 40-year-old male from Mexico. While inspecting the individual’s documents, agents noticed that the subject appeared nervous and also detected an unusual odor emanating from the vehicle. Agents referred the vehicle for further screening and for a K-9 inspection.

The detector dog quickly alerted to the front of the vehicle. Upon inspection of the Focus agents found a hidden compartment inside the dashboard of the vehicle. Inside the compartment agents found eight bundles wrapped in silver metallic tape. The powdery white substance inside was determined to be cocaine. More than 19 pounds of cocaine was seized, valued at $611,200. The subject, cocaine and vehicle were turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Since October 1, 2005, Border Patrol agents in Las Cruces have seized a total of $20,762,038 worth of illegal narcotics in 182 separate seizures.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers Discover Seven Pounds of Heroin Hidden Baseball Bats

Memphis, TN – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Memphis International Airport FedEx facility seized approximately seven pounds of heroin concealed in baseball bats.

On June 14, 2006, CBP officers performing pre-arrival manifest review at the FedEx hub in Memphis, selected a shipment manifested as "bats" for intensive exam. When the package arrived in the CBP exam area, a CBP officer opened the package and noticed a total of five bats.

One of the bats was x-rayed and discrepancies were noticed in the thick, upper part of the bat. A drill exam produced a brown powdery substance, which field-tested positive for heroin. The remainder of the bats were x-rayed and drilled and a total of three of the five bats were found to contain heroin.

Concealed Migrants Found in Three Separate Incidents Require Medical Attention

CALEXICO, CA.— U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Calexico ports of entry intercepted three smuggled migrants who required medical attention at an area hospital after they were discovered hidden in vehicles in separate incidents within two days, officials announced. These attempts highlight the dangers involved with being smuggled in a hidden compartment in the Imperial County where temperatures soar over 100 degrees.

The first incident occurred on Wednesday at the downtown Calexico border station at about 4:30 p.m. when CBP officers encountered a 59-year old Mexicali man as he entered the port driving a white1987 Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck. CBP officers noticed the driver was nervous and referred him to the secondary lot for an in-depth examination.

During the secondary inspection, CBP officers discovered a non-factory metal compartment welded to the undercarriage of the vehicle inside of which an undocumented female was hidden.

The second incident on Wednesday occurred at about 10:30 p.m. at the downtown port when a 55-year old Calexico man attempted to smuggle a pregnant female into the U.S. in the trunk of the red Nissan 240SX he was driving. The primary officer inspected the vehicle and encountered a woman in the trunk. Both occupants were escorted to the secondary area for further processing.

The third incident occurred at about 2:00 p.m. on Thursday when a 22-year old male U.S. citizen residing in Mexicali entered the Calexico East port driving a Nissan Sentra with two undocumented migrants in the trunk. The outside temperature was 108 degrees when CBP officers removed the male and female migrants from the vehicle. CBP MFRT assisted the female migrant who was then transported to a local hospital for further treatment.

AZ National Guard 'starting to show some impact here'

Troops support law-enforcement efforts on border
By Arthur H. Rotstein
Photo by Matt York / The Associated Press

YUMA — Pvt. Ashley Christopher, a member of the Arizona National Guard for only a year, and Sgt. 1st Class Henry Castillo, who has served more than two decades, reflect the diversity of Guard volunteers supporting the Border Patrol's Southwest border clampdown.

But they say all the guardsmen share a sense of mission, and none consider the new job to be a hardship.

The plan President Bush outlined last month calls for placing 6,000 soldiers like Castillo and Christopher in non-law-enforcement roles assisting the Border Patrol along the 2,000-mile border with Mexico this year.

For up to two years, the Guard will take over support jobs that now tie up immigration agents, monitoring sensors, radios and border cameras and dispatching agents in the field to intercept smugglers guiding illegal immigrants and drug traffickers.

Guardsmen also will work on improvements like fencing, lighting, roads or vehicle barriers while the Border Patrol recruits 6,000 more agents to beef up to about 18,000.

Migrants jailed as 'conspirators'

By Jacques Billeaud
Photo by Will Powers / The Associated Press

PHOENIX — The five men knew their two-day walk across the Arizona desert could end with the Border Patrol swiftly returning them to Mexico. But they never imagined that they would be stuck in a county jail for more than three months.

They were held under a novel interpretation of an Arizona immigrant smuggling law that allows the customers of human traffickers to be charged as conspirators in the crime.

They said their plan to earn a better living working construction and landscaping jobs in the United States backfired and that their incarceration has caused their families to suffer financially.

The five, among the first 48 people charged as conspirators under the new law, told The Associated Press in exclusive jailhouse interviews conducted in Spanish that they knew they weren't supposed to sneak across the border, but that people shouldn't blame them for trying to improve life for their families.

Migrant rules, official English go to ballot

Legislature tries end run around governor's vetoes
Matthew Benson and Carrie Watters
The Arizona Republic

The Arizona Legislature on Wednesday sent measures to the November ballot that will ask voters to make English the state's official language and prevent undocumented immigrants from receiving a variety of state services.

But just as importantly, they voted against several of the most controversial measures being considered for the ballot. They decided against referring to the ballot measures that would have penalized employers who hire undocumented workers and appeared likely to reject a proposal that would have created obstacles for communities trying to condemn private property.

Immigration measures referred to the ballot will enable voters to:

• Block undocumented immigrants from being awarded punitive damages in lawsuits. Other proposals would put state subsidies off-limits to migrants, including child care and adult education as well as in-state tuition rates and state financial aid for college.

• Prevent local communities from enacting so-called sanctuary policies that bar area law enforcement from enforcing federal immigration law.

• Amend the Arizona Constitution to make English the official language of state government.

Guardsmen settling into border duty

Bush's 1st support wave freeing up Border Patrol
Daniel Gonzalez
The Arizona Republic

NOGALES - Spc. Lathan Evans of Goodyear logged in visitors and answered phones at the U.S. Border Patrol substation. Pfc. Daniel Bolin of Scottsdale monitored a remote-control camera to scan for people jumping the wall downtown. Sgt. Ken Hagerth of Tucson finished fixing a broken radiator on a Border Patrol truck.

These Arizona Army and Air National Guard soldiers are the first of 2,500 who will descend on the Arizona-Mexico border by the end of August in task forces that started with these administrative and maintenance support troops. The deployment also calls for an armed "entry identification" group to help spot and alert the Border Patrol to human smugglers and drug traffickers coming across the border, although officials insist it is not a combatant force.

The troops are part of President Bush's decision to send 6,000 Guardsmen to help the Border Patrol seal the southern border. Border Patrol and National Guard officials said the troops are already having an impact by freeing up Border Patrol agents to go out into the field. So far, about two dozen agents in Arizona have been spelled of normal duties and are now in the field to help with enforcement and interdiction.

Agents arrest 36 illegal aliens on freight train

Jun 27, 2006

A caller's tip to the U.S. Border Patrol led to the arrests of 36 illegal immigrants Tuesday morning who were hiding in two parked freight train cars near Wellton.

Two among the group were identified as alleged alien smugglers, who will be prosecuted on federal smuggling charges, the patrol said in a news release.

Border Patrol agents assigned to the patrol's Wellton Station received a call around 5 a.m. from an area resident who reported seeing suspicious-looking people aboard a freight train that was stationary on railroad siding near Wellton, the patrol said.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Mexico Worries About Its Own Southern Border

NY Times
Photo by Luis J. Jimenez for The New York Times

TAPACHULA, Mexico, June 11 — Quiet as it is kept in political circles, Mexico, so much the focus of the United States' immigration debate, has its own set of immigration problems. And as elected officials from President Vicente Fox on down denounce Washington's plans to deploy troops and build more walls along the United States border, Mexico has begun a re-examination of its own policies and prejudices.

Here at Mexico's own southern edge, Guatemalans cross legally and illegally to do jobs that Mexicans departing for the north no longer want. And hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants from nearly two dozen other countries, including China, Ecuador, Cuba and Somalia, pass through on their way to the United States.

Dense jungle makes establishing an effective law enforcement presence along the line impossible. Crossing the border is often as easy as hopping a fence or rafting for 10 minutes. But, under pressure from the United States, Mexico has steadily increased checkpoints along highways at the border including several posts with military forces.

The Mexican authorities report that detentions and deportations have risen in the past four years by an estimated 74 percent, to 240,000, nearly half along the southern border. But they acknowledged there had also been a boom in immigrant smuggling and increased incidents of abuses and attacks by corrupt law enforcement officials, vigilantes and bandits. Meanwhile, the waves of migrants continue to grow.

Mexican drug cartels take over U.S. cities

Mexican drug cartels take over U.S. cities
Tancredo says gangs buy businesses, politicians, power, police departments
Posted: June 18, 2006 9:00 p.m. Eastern
By Joseph Farah
© 2006

WASHINGTON – Mexican drug cartels operating in cities in the U.S. are buying up legitimate businesses to launder money and using some of the proceeds to win local mayoral and city council seats for politicians who can shape the policies and personnel decisions of their police forces, according to Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., who has led the fight to secure the U.S.-Mexico border and enforce the nation's immigration laws.

In his new book, "In Mortal Danger: The Battle for America's Border and Security," Tancredo exposes what he has learned from meetings with law enforcement authorities regarding a concerted effort by the Mexican mafia and drug cartels to extend its corruptive influence in urban areas dominated by illegal alien populations.

Tancredo says some of these small cities have become hostile and dangerous places for legitimate law enforcement officials.

"The Tijuana-based Felix drug cartel and the Juarez-based Fuentes cartel began buying legitimate business in small towns in Los Angeles County in the early 1990s," he writes in his new book published by WND Books. "They purchased restaurants, used-car lots, auto-body shops and other small businesses. One of their purposes was to use these businesses for money-laundering operations. Once established in their community, these cartel-financed business owners ran for city council and other local offices. Over time, they were able to buy votes and influence in an effort to take over the management of the town. They wanted to create a comfort zone from which they could operate without interference from local law enforcement."

Mexican migrant smugglers up their prices in face of increased border security

By Olga R. Rodriguez

SAN LUIS RIO COLORADO, Mexico – Smugglers in sunglasses and muscle shirts reclined on withering patches of grass in a tree-covered plaza, blending into clusters of migrants and offering them “safe” trips into the United States.

But on this sweltering day, there were no takers. None of the Mexicans hoping to reach the United States could pay the $3,000 the smugglers demanded to hide them in a car and drive them across the border, a trip that just weeks ago cost $2,000.

The sharp increase in smugglers' fees is due to the arrival of National Guard troops at the border and plans by Washington for even greater border security, all of which will make the sometimes deadly trip into the United States even more difficult and dangerous. The higher fees have convinced some to cancel plans to sneak into the United States, while others have decided to go it alone.

Mexican and U.S. authorities are already seeing a drop in illegal migration, although it isn't clear if that will last.

Crossing over: Toxic waste

U.S. lacks good data on hazardous materials trucked from Mexico
By Mike Lee
Photo by Nelvin Cepeda / Union-Tribune

While U.S. politicians debate how best to keep illegal immigrants from crossing the border, huge holes plague America's system for counting and inspecting toxic waste migrating north from Mexico.

U.S. environmental officials can't say how much of the waste is trucked in each year, what the top sources of that waste are or which chemicals get transported most through border crossing points, including the Otay Mesa and Calexico stations – where hazardous waste gets funneled into California.

This lack of data, compounded by spotty inspections, has hampered regulatory efforts at the state and national levels. It also has undermined scrutiny of major waste importers because there is almost no way for the public to know who these companies are without sorting through thousands of forms.

Some environmentalists and border regulators even suggest that terrorists could take advantage of the limited inspections to shuttle dangerous materials into the United States.

Border patrol chase yields $500k worth of marijuana

Published: 06.15.2006

U.S. Border Patrol agents came under fire twice, returning fire once, Wednesday night while trying to capture suspected marijuana smugglers who later abandoned more than a half million dollars worth of marijuana.

No border patrol agents were hit by the gunfire, said Senior Patrol Agent Sean King, a border patrol spokesman here.

The shootings started after a border camera monitor spotted a Mercedes Benz SUV at 7:05 p.m. heading north from the border along a dirt road near the KS Ranch, about six miles southeast of Nogales and about a half mile north of the border, King said.

Six agents were sent to the area to investigate and as they got there the Mercedes driver sped away.

The agents chased the vehicle and someone in the SUV fired at least several shots at the lead border patrol truck, hitting the windshield and radiator, King said, adding agents returned fire with pistols and rifles. Agents did not know if they hit any of the suspects, King added.

Three men abandoned the SUV and fled toward Mexico.

Agents found 694 pounds of bundled marijuana in the abandoned SUV, King said. He said the marijuana has a street retail value of $555,560.

Mexican border towns fear U.S. crackdown will strand thousands

Published: 06.16.2006

NOGALES, Mexico - Patricia Lopez's journey toward a better life in the United States ended with a nighttime robbery, a twisted ankle and a Border Patrol escort to the frontier - where she was dumped at dawn without a peso in her pocket, 1,575 miles from home.

She's far from alone: Nearly 1 million people, many of them penniless, were turned back across the border last year, and analysts fear that tougher new U.S. border enforcement will inundate border towns with the desperate and the destitute.

Migrant shelter directors are scrambling for money and considering hiring more staff to keep their doors open 24 hours a day in anticipation of a record number of migrants being repatriated.

"Everyone is getting ready because we're worried there is going to be a mass deportation of people," said Francisco Loureiro, who runs a migrant shelter in Nogales that houses up to 120 people a night. "We're worried there's going to be too many people to tend to, and we just don't have the room for more."

Mexican hopeful: NAFTA bad deal

Leftist presidential candidate says he would not honor whole accord
The Associated Press
Published: 06.19.2006

TUXTLA GUTIERREZ, Mexico - Leftist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took his hardest line yet against free trade with the United States, saying for the first time that he would not honor Mexico's commitment under NAFTA to eliminate tariffs on U.S. corn and beans.

Tariffs on all agricultural products must be removed in 2008 under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Lopez Obrador said he would not eliminate tariffs on U.S. white corn and beans if elected, showing no allegiance to a deal he sees as harmful to Mexican farmers.

"We are not going to accept this clause that they signed," Lopez Obrador told supporters last weekend in Chiapas, an extremely poor farming state.

He promised to provide farmers with guaranteed prices, subsidies and loans on favorable terms, some of which may be questionable practices under NAFTA's rules.

With two weeks to go before the July 2 election, the fiery ex-Mexico City mayor is running about even with his main opponent, Felipe Calderon of the conservative governing National Action Party, or PAN.

Election day is near for Mexico

Jun 18, 2006

SAN LUIS RIO COLORADO, Son. — Portraits of aspiring politicians seem to stare at passers-by from signs and billboards. Campaign jingles blast out from bullhorns strapped on top of sedans. Campaign headquarters bustle.

Election time is fast approaching in this border city and across Mexico.

On July 2, voters in San Luis Rio Colorado will choose from among three candidates for mayor. And, they will join voters around the country in electing a new president.

The vote may be seen as a referendum on the National Action Party, a conservative party which has held the mayorship of San Luis for the past 12 years and which captured the presidency for the first time in 2000.

The party, known by its Spanish acronym PAN, is fielding as its mayoral candidate Ruben Espino, whose campaign is promoting family assistance and economic development. hopes to take retain the office for his party.

But the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, is trying to make a political comeback in San Luis. Its first-ever female candidate for mayor, Adriana Aceves Pacheco, who has family ties in Yuma, says she'll be able to work "in harmony" with Sonora Gov. Eduardo Bours, also of the PRI, to create new jobs in the border city.

Meanwhile, the leftist Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) hopes to ride on the coattails of the PRD's Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a leading candidate for president. Among other things, PRD mayoral candidate Santos Yescos promises to rescue the city's tourism industry, which he says has been dying a slow death under the PAN administration.

The winner of the mayoral race will serve a three-year term in office.

Operation Jump Start Guardsmen arrive here

Jun 18, 2006

More than 50 soldiers from the Arizona National Guard arrived in the Yuma sector over the weekend to support the U.S. Border Patrol.

The group is the first batch of National Guard troops to be deployed as part of Operation Jump Start, President Bush's plan to curb illegal immigration by sending up to 6,000 troops to the four southern border states to assist federal immigration agents.

Chief Patrol Agent Ron Colburn said this first group is the "forward unit" and there will be more arriving later this month.

"It's exciting for the whole community that the first boots on the ground arrived today in Yuma for Operation Jump Start," he said Sunday.

Once the operation is "fully flush," he said, there will be several hundred National Guard personnel assigned to the Yuma sector.

The group that arrived over the weekend could spend several months, or up to a year, in Yuma.

The majority will be unarmed, performing support functions that will allow more Border Patrol agents to work in the field.