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?
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.