Aaron Gutiérrez Cortes wants to improve Tijuana, so he’s doing it one small project at a time.

The Tijuana-based architect, and his firm Amorphica, works on tiny (but profoundly helpful) tweaks to the city’s patchwork infrastructure, such as improving decaying sets of public stairs, creating new materials to build homes from readily available recycled local materials and improving public medians on busy streets, reports the L.A. Times. I previously wrote about a project of Amorphica’s here.

• A scheduled, temporary pipeline shutoff will leave more than half a million residents of Tijuana and Rosarito without water for two to five days this week. The shutdown is necessary because a 30-year-old, 510-foot section of pipe has sprung a leak. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

Fighting for Hugs

Families in Ciudad Juárez and El Paso separated by the international border got to meet in the middle of the Rio Grande last week for supervised meetings — and hugs, reports Fronteras Desk. The event, which was organized by border and human rights activists, was similar to the annual Children’s Day event at Friendship Park, in which families (who have been vetted beforehand) meet at a door in the border wall for short, supervised visits with family members that they have not seen for years, or in some cases, decades.

Members of Friends of Friendship Park have begun the Let Them Hug campaign, in order to allow people to embrace loved ones who are currently separated by an international border. Currently (except on Children’s Day) individuals and families can go up to the fence at Friendship Park during set times and speak to one another through closely woven chicken wire that allows “pinky kisses” — the touch of fingertips through the wall’s holes.

A Grim Week in Crime

• A bloody fortnight in Tijuana has brought the death toll so far this year to 508. (Zeta Tijuana; link in Spanish)


We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

• A toddler found dead in the bag of two Americans trying to cross into Mexico through San Ysidro was drowned, according to authorities. The body of the little girl — who was not the child of either — also showed signs of dehydration and malnourishment. Johnny Lewis Hartley, 39, and 43-year-old Mercy Maria Becerra, both of Whittier, were arraigned in downtown San Diego last week. (NBC San Diego)

More Border News

• The U.S.-Mexico border has been the topic of art as long as it has existed, but two artists, Tijuana’s Marcos Ramirez — also known as ERRE — and Tucson-based photographer David Taylor, did a survey of the international border, placing monuments along the way. Not the current one; the border that existed in 1821, through Oregon to Texas. They took photographs along the way. The ensuing show, “DeLIMITations: A Survey of the 1821 United States-Mexico Border,” can be seen through Nov. 27th at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego. (KCET)

• The new archbishop of Tijuana, Francisco Moreno Barrón, visited the international border last Thursday, leaned against the fence, and said: “Necesitamos construir más puentes y derribar muros” or, “We need to build more bridges and topple walls.” (La Cronica de Hoy; link in Spanish)

• In other Catholic news, Mother Teresa will be formally canonized by Pope Francis on Sept. 4 in Rome, nearly 20 years after her death. The Catholic Church requires someone to gather evidence of miracles and make a case for sainthood. The person who is gathering that evidence, is the Reverend Brian Kolodiejchuk a priest originally from Canada. He’s a member of the religious order she founded, and is part of the Missionaries of Charity House in Tijuana. (New York Times)

• And yet another publication has discovered Mexico’s “burgeoning” wine region (which has, as I’ve said before, been around since the early 1800s). (Bloomberg)

    This article relates to: Border, Border Crossing, Border Report, Must Reads, News

    Written by Brooke Binkowski

    Brooke Binkowski is a backpack reporter who has been covering the U.S.-Mexico border for many years. Find her on Twitter at @brooklynmarie.

    1 comments
    Jorge Serrano
    Jorge Serrano

    During the Colonial period, Mexico's wine region was Aguascalientes. Wine-making was, for the most part, prohibited by the Crown in order that the colonists buy wine produced in the mother country. 


    Although the Franciscans planted grapes in the Santo Tomás Valley of Baja California and around all other missions northward, that production never amounted to much: Ulises Urbano Lassépas recorded a total of fourteen barrels of wine being exported in 1857 from the entire peninsula while 221 cases of wine were imported into the peninsula that same year. 


    The Molokans, a pacifist Russian sect, made wine for themselves on their commune in the Guadalupe Valley during the first half of the twentieth century but the real impetus for wine-making in Baja California came with the influx of Italians and Spaniards during the 1920s and '30s. The largest winery in Baja was founded by L. A. Cetto, one of those Italian immigrants. The other large winery, Santo Tomás, was the work of Abelardo Rodríguez, the territorial governor during the '20s.


    Before the arrival of the Italians and Spaniards, most of the local grapes were used to make brandy because Alta California entered Prohibition in 1909, a decade ahead of the rest of the US.