Mel and Pippa are in conversation with Mexican journalist, Frank Hernandez, for Episode Nine of the EarthRights Podcast. They discuss the Mexican border crisis and whether the new Biden administration is a cause for hope or concern.
Frank was born and raised in Ciudad Juarez, a Mexican town on the border of the U.S.. He is now residing in the U.S., working for the Mid-West Centre for Investigative Reporting, a non profit newsroom in Illinois covering agriculture and rural life in the U.S.
The Mexico border crisis exists because many Mexicans are driven to leave their country due to climate change – there are more droughts and extreme weather events causing land to no longer be habitable or profitable for farmers. And, indigenous communities have been forced to flee their ancestral lands due to American and Canadian mining corporations exploiting their natural resources.
Frank urges listeners to ‘look at the dynamic between economics and the impacts on the indigenous communities trying to resist corporations invading their ancestral lands.‘ EarthRights also explored the policy of extractivism and its impacts with Miles Rudgley in Series One – listen to Episode 6: ‘OIL or LIFE’ .
Frank tells EarthRights about his first-hand experiences crossing the border each day as a university student during Trump’s term. During the height of the border crisis, Frank’s waiting times increased from around 1 hour to between 3-5 hours – each way, everyday – all this just to access his education. He sad: You get used to it but it is exhausting…’
He also discusses the impacts of the new Biden administration. Since taking office, Biden has ended the deportation programme, a step in the right direction in comparison to Trump. But human rights abuses are continuing and there have been cases of African asylum seekers not being sent back to their home countries and instead being sent to Haiti…
Frank opens up about his personal experiences growing up in Ciudad Juarez, one of the most dangerous cities in the world. From 2007-2012, it was ranked the most dangerous city in the world – the world’s homicide capital. ‘This is even in comparison to places like Afghanistan and Iraq, where actual conflicts were going on.’
A few times Frank has been close to where shootings happened. ‘It was regular, it was normal, it was not out of the ordinary that you would witness murder in the streets…’
Working in such a dangerous part of the world is important to appreciate with regard to the border crisis; 30 or more environmental activists have been murdered in Mexico recently after challenging the invasion of their lands by oil and mining corporations. These murders were likely perpetrated by foreign corporations and most of those murdered have come from indigenous communities.