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VOSD's biweekly roundup of stories on the border, immigration and the San Diego-Baja California region (Mondays)
What the Tijuana and Los Angeles rivers have in common, former Tijuana police chief eyes a new post and more in our roundup of border news.
Uber’s presence in Mexico can best be described as embattled.
Public transportation unions exercise a death grip at the drop of a pin, and though the service is now available across several metropolitan areas in Mexico, reception by the establishment has been dicey. VOSD has detailed Uber’s fight for customers and legality in Tijuana since the service launched there in August 2014.
Mexican daily Excelsior reported recently that rocks have been thrown at Uber cars in Tijuana, injuring at least one passenger.
Unflinching, the mobile ridesharing service recently unveiled UberPASSPORT, which offers single cross-border rides from San Diego to Tijuana.
Via Paste magazine:
Uber’s one-way journey is limited because the commercial activity—the service that is taxed and regulated—occurs at the point of pickup and not at drop-off, according to regulations that govern Uber, Lyft Inc., and other transit companies. However, Uber has said they are working on a cross-border pickup being available from Tijuana.
These cross-border trips are only available through Uber’s black car option, which costs more than UberX rides. Passport riders will need to expect a $20 crossing convenience fee on top of the per-mile and per-minute rates to make the driver’s trip across the border worthwhile. A ride from Pacific Beach to Rosarito might cost around $160, whereas a ride from North Park to Zone Centro could cost riders around $90. Conveniently, UberPASSPORT vehicles are set up to transport four passengers so the international travelers can split the fare.
“It’s very exciting for us because there are a lot of places where we could have launched a cross-border product, but we recognize the importance of the largest border crossing in the world and the unique relationship between San Diego and Tijuana,” Christopher Ballard, Uber’s GM in Southern California, told the Union-Tribune. “These are cities whose families, cultures and economies are closely linked.”
Currently no plans have been announced to offer cross-border rides back to San Diego.
The Los Angeles Times profiled Tijuana architect René Peralta and his lofty vision to transform the Tijuana River into a solar farm; one that could supply power to 30,000 homes.
The Tijuana River shares many similarities with the Los Angeles River, the story notes – both could be described as a “once free-flowing body of water restrained by a cement canal.”
[Peralta] teamed with urban planner Jim Bliesner of the Center for Urban Economics and Design at UC San Diego to developed the solar farm proposal that would involve straddling panels over the arroyo for the river’s nearly 11-mile course.
The proposal also includes plans for an algae farm that would help filter contaminants out of river water so that it might be repurposed. The resulting algae could then be employed to create biofuels.
“There are 15 million gallons of water per day that flow through there,” Peralta says. “It’s treated, but you can’t drink it. But with one more layer of polish, we could recycle the water for industrial purposes.”
Similar initiatives in Switzerland and Germany have employed algae to insulate buildings and generate power, the Times notes.
Working as part of Cultrunners, a nomadic art initiative, Palestinian artist Khaled Jarrar hopped on an RV earlier this year and traveled from Playas de Tijuana to Ciudad Juárez, as part of an exploration of contested boundaries. Jarrar encountered everyone Border Patrol agents to local entrepreneurs, all while organizing talks at galleries and other public spaces. The result was “Khaled’s Ladder,” a physical piece created from discarded border wall bits that gave birth to an eponymous documentary.
“First of all when I went to Tijuana,” Jarrar says in a video detailing the project, “I saw this ugly wall going inside the sea; this makes me so angry.”
Business Insider via El Universal reports that the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación, the Cartel de Sinaloa’s burgeoning rival which we’ve mentioned in a previous Border Report, is vying for expansion into Tijuana and subsequently the U.S. The operation is getting more ink as of late, with BI predicting that “[t]he arrival of the CJNG — one of North America’s major meth traffickers — on the scene in the northwest Mexican city has the potential to increase the bloodshed, as the recent months have shown.”
Meanwhile, Milenio reports that three CJNG members were captured during a raid in Puerto Vallarta on Sunday.
Julian Leyzaola Pérez, who left a mark for his fight against corruption and organized crime in Tijuana during his stint as police chief, is vying to become the city’s next mayor come June 5, the U-T’s Sandra Dibble reports.
Leyazola will be running his campaign under the banner of the Partido de Encuentro Social, a small, Evangelical-supported party. Leyazola’s turn as Tijuana’s director of public safety spanned from 2008 to 2010.
“There’s all this structure and paraphernalia around the narcos, as if they are invincible people, or indestructible people,” Leyazola told NPR in 2011. “We have to get rid of this. In the end, the criminals need to go back to being viewed just as criminals.”
During his time in Tijuana, Dibble writes that Leyazola — who’s currently in a wheelchair after suffering an attack that left him paralyzed — “won both admirers and detractors: He was praised for falling crime rates in heavily transited areas of the city, and for his hard line against police corruption, but harshly criticized by human rights groups who accused him of brutalizing suspects.”
The daily newspaper El Sol de Tijuana talked with local Human Rights Commission president Raúl Ramírez Baena, who said that a potential win by Leyazola would “represent a risk to the tranquility of Tijuana residents.”
A new Forbes pieces showcases “5 Fabulous Finds You Wouldn’t Expect in Tijuana.” It shies away from the artistic renaissance and focuses heavily on food, like the original Caesar salad, which apparently is doused in “enough oil to keep a 747 aloft for a few days,” and Las Ahumaderas tacos (“My friends told me these weren’t even the best in TJ. Mind blown.”).
Granted, it’s not groundbreaking, but the piece serves as a good blueprint for the uninitiated. So what are you waiting for? Hop in an Uber. Just make sure to pack some Tums. Or better yet, while you’re down there, pick up some Sal de Uvas Picot.