Archive for El Paso

War on Drugs: Failing Humanity

Posted in hope, Life in Juarez, Violence in Juarez with tags , , , , , on 09/23/2009 by mattlindsey

Our border community is now painfully divided. It is a microcosm of our hemisphere, our world embroiled in a war on drugs. The violence is a wake-up call, not only for Mexico, but also for the U.S.

Billie Greenwood –Border Explorer

Back in April we posted a short video from The Newspaper Tree about the “War on Drugs”, the failed approach to a seemingly endless war. Our friend Billie posted an incredible article about how this war has deeply wounded our border community. She highlighted a conference that took place on Sept 20-22 (this week) at UTEP (University of Texas at El Paso) addressing alternative approaches to the drug-war that President Nixon started forty years ago. It is sad to say that for 40 years we have been tripping all over ourselves in failed attempts to counter the drug problem. The U.S. has over 2 million citizens in prison, the largest prison-industrial complex in the history of civilization; most of those people are in for crimes directly related to economics and drugs. We have to change the way we have been fighting against these issues.

Watch the video and check out Billie’s thoughtful article at The Border Explorer.


Dark Side of the River

Posted in Life in Juarez, Violence in Juarez with tags , , , on 08/08/2009 by mattlindsey

Poverty is not the problem, it is the symptom. The problem is an inability to share and to distribute the wealth.

In 10 or 20 years, these kids roaming the streets will be the same kind of criminals we see here today. They will be killing and trying to smuggle drugs because they won’t see the value in doing anything else. They were never given the opportunity to become an engineer or a doctor, or a teacher. If the only thing they learned was what they learned in the streets, if all they saw were people being murdered, if no one ever took them to church and no one lavished them with attention, I can assure you, they will become criminals.

Luis Fernando Cárdenas

Amor por Juarez

July was the deadliest month in the recent history of Ciudad Juarez (BOO!) and still it sits, plastered to the desert dust like a giant glowing pulsating elephant in the room. Outside my window buses roll by, kids are kicking a half-deflated soccer ball in the street, and tomorrow I will be in El Paso to pick up a small group of folks that is coming to visit us. I will run errands, spend my day in the land of the free, rub shoulders with the half-million people that live in one of the safest cities in the world; I will come home, pass through the magic-curtain back to the colonia, back to Juarez, the deadliest city in Mexico.

This is a weird place to live.

Luis Fernando Cárdenas posted his article on the El Paso’s online newspaper last month; it is one of the first pieces written towards hope that I have seen and one of the first articles that I have read in some time that speaks of the core infection of Mexico. Please, read it.

Hearing El Pasonians talk proudly about NOT crossing the border to see their family in Juarez is as much a slap in the face as so-called christians that spend $16 million dollars on a church building looming so high and extravagant that it casts a mocking shadow on its poor neighbors on the dark side of the river. If our nations churches won’t share and distribute the wealth, then we have indeed lost “the good fight.” Good ideas, catered-theology, politics without action, it is all just a sound byte, a clanging bell. What saddens me is that our best idea (as Americans) was to sink over $30 billion dollars into a fence and hundreds of millions more into the bottomless pit of the “War on Drugs.”

Living in the dark, covering our ears and tossing billions of dollars towards a war that cannot be one with AK-47’s and helicopters is the easy way out. We are at the crossroads of fear and hope. People are scrambling to find something solid to build on, something more to believe in. We cannot continue ignoring our impoverished neighbors.

The Dividing Line between rich and poor

Posted in Life in Juarez with tags , , , , , , on 07/30/2009 by mmlindsey

This video was posted on the El Paso’s  NewsPaper Tree site.

This is our life… a life in flux. We have only been here for one year, and in a year we have seen the border evolve into a military zone, separating the rich from the poor. Please watch, it is a blaring glimpse into the reality of our lives and the lives of countless Mexican brothers and sisters.

No More Trouble

Posted in hope, Life in Juarez with tags , , , , on 07/22/2009 by mattlindsey

And we define news as acts of violence rather than the hidden acts of love that keep hope alive… so even as we see the horror of death, may we be reminded that in the end, love wins. Mercy triumphs. Life is more powerful than death. And even those who have committed great violence can have the image of God come to life again within them as they hear the wisper of love. May the whisper of love grow louder than the thunder of violence. May we love loudly.

Jesus for President

Jesus for President

Misty and I were sitting at the table a few days ago reading, sharing passages that struck us from the books that we were reading. The passage above itched the festering frustration that I have been wrestling with ever since we moved to the desert, “And we define news as acts of violence…”. We began talking about the monster we all created called “media” and how lame it is that society has submitted to it, is lead by it like a poodle on a leash, how we  weaken and sicken our lives by eating the drug of fear that it gives out for free. There are a billion reasons, maybe a zillion, to KILL YOUR T.V., but if you need some here are a few: CNN, FoxNews, ABC, CBS, etc, etc.

News of the day: Death. Violence. More death. Guns. War. Drugs. More war. Death. Scandal. In essence it is one big dripping sack of rotten, stinky, filthiness called fear. And we like it. We are addicted to it. Who wants to turn on the news and watch the leaders of countries hugging each other over a cup of tea, talking about how they are going to share their borders, dismantle their weapons, make some plows and shovels and begin to heal the land? Don’t we all want to see North Korea fall? Iran crumble? The next coup or the next riot? We sit down at the table of fear and we feast. Tear-gas bombs and economy woes are the appitizers, then an overflowing plate of extra greasy doubly-hydrogenated war, dying soldiers, scandals and affairs of the rich and famous. Finally, we cram a dessert of imminent destruction into our bulging stomachs. We are told by these servers of fear what to believe and when to believe it, and sadly, without them most of us would not know what to believe.

Fear has virtually shut down the El Paso/Juarez border. We have spoken to many El Pasonians who will not venture into Juarez even to see their own family. We get the wide-eyed “what the hell are you thinking” look from a lot of people when they discover that we are living in the city. All of the scheduled teams that were coming to Juarez to share life with our community have cancelled. We are called valiant by some of the neighbors. Shop owners and Juarez business thank us for being here. Yet all of our friends who have come to visit, all 14 of them, return to their homes saying, “Juarez is totally fine. I felt safe.”

That is why I am starting a new blog. It is called No More Trouble, taken from Bob Marley’s infamous song. It is a site dedicated to the news of  “hidden acts of love that keep hope alive”. It is a site on which anyone can submit this kind of news. A kind of alternative news site where people can read about things that lift the spirit rather than tear it apart. Photos, quotes, songs, stories, videos all about hope. Its time for a new kind of news.


Thanks to Scagnutties for the tumblr link!

Amor por Juarez

Posted in Life in Juarez with tags , , , , , , , on 05/22/2009 by mattlindsey

If Jesus preached in New York City what he preached in Galilee, we’d lay him in his grave again.

Woody Guthrie 

Living in a border town as volatile and spotlighted as the El Paso/Ciudad Juarez border will certainly challenge one’s worldview. It has flipped mine upside down. For example, try explaining the $7 million a mile border-fence, the iron cage dividing extravagance from abject poverty, to a people who have been suppressed by injustice, raped by world governments including their own, spit on and utterly demeaned by humanity. Or try justifying the meager wages, tossed from Fortune 500 companies like bread crumbs to pigeons, to my neighbors who work in the toilsome crucibles called maquiladoras. NAFTA was supposedly cooked-up to offer hope, but looking through the eyes of my new friends it seems it has only stolen livelihoods and offered shattered dreams.

There have been more arrests of social activists in this city than Narcos. My Mexican sisters are still being plucked off of the streets of Juarez, raped, cut to piece, discarded. Over 20 this year. Their innocent voices continue to cry out from the blood stained desert sand. The murders go unsolved. 

Living on this side of the fence just might flip your worldview upside down too. But Juarez is fighting for hope.

Amor por JuarezLove for Juarez.

When I think about how deeply my heart has sunk into the desert sand, I laugh. I was swept away from the mountains, from friends, from community, from a lot of good stuff, only to land in the desert and begin to truly savor  life. But it’s not like I have this thing figured out. I am simply here tilling away at the sand, warming up to a woeful city and falling in love with a tenacious people. This desert has scoured my spirit, revealing the marrow of life. Ironically, in a city plauged by death and fear, I have learned more than ever before about life, hope, peace, justice and love.

In a season where the world is being picked apart by war, pandemics, poverty, economic and ecologic depletion and fear, I see a movement of truth and love gathering in strength. And although the church in the United States has been lying dormant in her comfortable bed, she is waking. Justice has the upper hand. The song of hope and freedom is being sung around the world. Despite our differences, our hands are reaching through the fences of life, we’re uniting.

 “We need to build justice, not walls!” – Pastor Kim Erno


I shot this photo in the square in downtown Juarez on April 16th, 2009.

War on Drugs?

Posted in Life in Juarez, Violence in Juarez with tags , , , , , on 04/24/2009 by mmlindsey

We came across this super interesting video on El Paso’s online newspaper. It is a commentary about the so-called “War on Drugs” from a veteran reporter who has been working the streets of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez. The video is 63 seconds long and worth your time.