Former U.S. Ambassador Talks Crisis in Mexico

March 23, 2011 by · Comments Off 

By Aida Ahmed
aahmed@smu.edu

Former United States Ambassador to Mexico and SMU Dedman School of Law alumnus, Antonio Garza, spoke Wednesday morning at the Callejo Roundtable on current issues facing Texas and Mexico.

The Callejo Roundtable is named for Adelfa Callejo, the first Hispanic woman to graduate from the Dedman School of Law in 1961. Callejo opened the series with a few statistics on the status of Latinos in the U.S.

Callejo commented on the fact that 38 percent of Texas’s 25 million inhabitants are now Hispanic and 48 percent of them are under the age of 18. In 2040 Hispanics are projected to be the majority in Texas. With numbers like these, Callejo said leadership needs should be addressed in the changing environment.

Former U.S. Ambassador Talks Crisis in Mexico from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

Garza, who served as ambassador for eight years, said that the U.S. is in a very challenging times in terms of its relationship with Mexico, but says the violence is not Mexico’s real problem.

“The country’s [Mexico] biggest challenge is building institutions that manage and contain the violence and corruption,” said Garza.

Sarah Saldana, deputy criminal chief of fraud and public corruption in the U.S. Attorney’s office and 1984 graduate of the Dedman School of Law, said she believes educational forums like this help inform people.

“It’s dreadful [the crisis in Mexico] and sad,” said Saldana. “Events like this promote a better understanding of what’s going on in that country.”

Another guest, J.P. Morgan banker Jose Chairez, said that Garza’s talk will give people a more in-depth look into the situation in Mexico.

“He’s talking about what’s happening from an insider’s view and what’s happening today,” said Chairez.

The roundtable named after Callejo, a long-time lawyer and champion on civil rights, was sponsored by AT&T. Together they created the AT&T Callejo Leadership Scholarship, a full-tuition scholarship awarded to a Dedman School of Law student based on academic achievement, interest in the Hispanic community and potential to serve as a leader.

Video and Editing By Andy Garcia
atgarcia@smu.edu

Campus News Blog: Texas DPS Warns Spring Breakers Not to Travel to Mexico

March 1, 2011 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Aida Ahmed

Just a heads up for students who delete SMU mass e-mails without reading them: the Texas Department of Safety urges all Texas spring breakers to avoid all travel to Mexico. SMU forwarded students the official notice from the DPS Tuesday afternoon, with spring break less than two weeks away.

According to the Texas DPS, continued violence, kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery and carjacking are the causes of the warning. Preliminary figures show 65 Americans were killed in Mexico in 2010. Falcon Lake should especially be avoided, as it has been the scene of several robberies and a U.S. citizen’s murder. The DPS warns cartel activity remains high in that area.

Travelers can check the U.S. State Department website for the most up-to-date information related to security issues in Mexico.

U.S. citizens living or traveling in Mexico are urged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through their website.

DPS tips for a safe Spring Break:

Don’t text while driving.
Wear your seat belt.
Don’t drink and drive.
Find a sober friend to do the driving.
Don’t leave your drink unattended, and don’t accept drinks from strangers.
Keep a fresh driver behind the wheel, or stop every couple of hours to rest and walk around.
Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained.
Keep your friends close.

Daily Update: Tuesday, Feb. 22

February 22, 2011 by · Comments Off 

A deadly earthquake in New Zealand leaves 65 dead and hundreds injured, 53 people have been killed in Juarez, Mexico, and protests continue in the Middle East. Also, a proposed bill may allow Texas college students, faculty and staff to carry concealed weapons on campus. All this and more on your Daily Update.

Daily Update: Tuesday, Feb. 22 from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

Daily Update: Tuesday, Feb. 8

February 8, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Freezing rain, sleet and snow expected again tonight, two American, teenage boys killed in Juarez, Mexico, and “sexting” could become a class C misdemeanor. All this and more on your Daily Update.

Daily Update: Tuesday, Feb. 8 from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

Note: Daily Update has been cancelled for tomorrow due to weather.

Escaping The Cartels: SMU Students Flee From Violence in Mexico

November 4, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Natalie Blankenship
nblankensh@smu.edu

Sitting outside Fondren Library at Southern Methodist University, junior Luis Webb appears to be just like any other student.

He is a member of a social fraternity on campus, studies for classes and enjoys making new friends. He is majoring in business management and lives not too far from campus. But Webb, a native of Torreón, Mexico, is here like a growing number of SMU students in part, to escape the drug cartel violence at home.

“We can’t go out, we can’t leave,” Webb said. “Most of my friends are going abroad and leaving to study.”

A friend of his, junior Juan Pablo Muro, said there are several people that have come to SMU this year from Mexico, and several more are planning to come next year. The office of international student and scholar services was unable to be reached to confirm the exact numbers.

Another friend from Monterrey, Mexico greets Webb with a handshake that only two men of a different sort of fraternity would know. Mexicans here for similar reasons. The Mexican students are a close-knit community on campus, and they come together to support each other. When he’s hanging out with his roommate from Juarez, Mexico and his other friends from Mexico, they agree that this is the place to be for opportunity.

Beginning in 2008, an influx of Mexicans began to head towards the United States to flee the violence brought on by the drug war, Webb said. The drug war has been going on since 2006, but it has only gotten worse and is at its peak. The drug cartels will even negotiate with the Mexican government and the president to decide which parts of the country each cartel will dominate.

“It’s like Afghanistan. You see soldiers, police, all the guys with the machine guns just patrolling the city,” Webb said. “Sometimes you will hear guns shooting and grenades.”

Rick Pauza, a public affairs officer for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Laredo, Texas couldn’t say much about the statistics of how many Mexicans were fleeing to the U.S., or for what reasons. One thing he did know was that there has been a lot of cross-border traffic.

As far as Webb’s hometown, Torreón, the “area” hadn’t been claimed by the drug cartels until a few years ago. Webb says it is now one of the most dangerous city in Mexico. The cartels are basically attempting to “win” the city because, “it’s the center of all distribution of the drug,” he said.

Webb has also witnessed narcomantas, or threatening posters from the cartels. They also communicate through songs called narcocorridos and even communicate to the people through videos they post on YouTube. On top of this, there is a blog that Mexican citizens log on to post photos, text and videos of violence that has occurred and where to avoid it.

“They show all the things they don’t show on TV,” Webb said. “Images of people who have been killed, things like that.”

And there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. People are living in frustration and fear, with no dreams and no future because they have been told that it will get better but it keeps getting worse. People are afraid to go out after dark and aren’t able to trust anyone, Webb said.

“It’s sad because all of the investment and people who can transform Mexico in some way are just running,” Webb said.

The violence has affected everyone and has really created a new lifestyle for the college-aged kids in cities like Torreón and other dangerous cities like Monterrey and border towns. Webb’s friend Muro, from Matamoros, Mexico, said the streets are always empty at night and young people can’t go out anymore.

“[They] have to cross the border to go out [at night] in Brownsville, Texas,” Muro said.

But because Matamoros is on the border of Texas and Mexico, the citizens have actually gotten used to the violence. The first thing you see when you enter the city is armed soldiers driving around in Hummers with machine guns, he said.

“It’s gotten to the point where the people that live there think it’s normal,” Muro said. “You hear [the news] and you’re just like, well, it happened again.”

Because of the violence and attacks that occur daily, some people are used to it, but others appear to be a lot more nervous in day-to-day interactions, Webb said.

“If you hug [them] or if you drive by them, you will feel these peoples’ nerves, and feel their fear that someone is trying to get them,” he said.

Feeling much safer at SMU, Webb says he tries to keep in touch with his friends from back home through Skype and Facebook, and talks to his parents once a week. What he misses most is the mole, claiming Tex-Mex shares hardly anything in common with actual Mexican food, other than the name.

Whether Webb and his Mexican friends are hanging out at Umphrey Lee, the Dedman Center, or out at a restaurant or bar off campus, they usually try to avoid talking about what is happening back home because they are tired of hearing about all of the tragedy, Webb said.

The comfort is that there are other people in the same situation at SMU and they can come together to talk about what’s happening in Mexico, or maybe just hang out together and have a good time.

“When we do [talk about the violence back home], we always say that we are lucky to be here,” Webb said.

The friends often discuss how the drug war can be fixed. Webb said he thinks the first step is getting people to stop doing drugs, which will never happen. Next, the Mexican government needs to stop negotiating with the cartels. Finally, another solution could be legalizing some drugs like marijuana, but there are many advantages and disadvantages that come with that, he said.

But he agrees that being in a safe haven like SMU provides a blanket of comfort for students who are escaping violence from their hometowns.

“Here it’s nice,” Webb said. “You can walk outside and I don’t feel like I have to look around to see if someone is going to kidnap me or shoot me or something.”

The Daily Update: Monday, Oct. 25

October 25, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

The Daily Update: Monday, Oct. 25 from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

Find out about tornados in North East Texas this past weekend, a shooting that killed 14 people in Mexico, volcano in Indonesia that could erupt

Daily Update: Tuesday, Sept. 7

September 7, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Daily Update: Tuesday, Sept 7. from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

On today’s DU you’ll get a recap of the Mustang’s loss to Tech and find out about why we are getting this rainy weather. Also get the scoop on how new study habits get help you make the grade, all this and more on your Daily Update.

Daily Update: Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2010

August 31, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Daily Update: Aug, 31 2010 from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

Watch today’s Daily Update to see footage from the reception welcoming the new dean of Dedman College. Also, learn more about Hurricane Earl’s path of destruction and Biden’s trip to Iraq.

The Daily Update: Friday, April 23

April 26, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Read more

Campus News Blog: International Students

February 28, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Kathryn Sharkey

I don’t know if it’s because I recently returned from studying abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, that I’m just more aware now, or if this is actually the case, but it seems like there are more and more international students on campus.

When I walk to class, I always end up near students speaking Spanish, Italian, or with thick Eastern European accents. This didn’t happen three years ago when I was a first year student.

I decided to look and see what SMU’s statistics are for international students. The SMU website states that “more than 850 international students from 90 countries attend SMU.”

The top countries that undergraduate students came from in the fall of 2009 were: India, People’s Republic of China, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Guatemala, Republic of South Korea, United Kingdom, El Salvador, South Africa, Canada, Pakistan, Panama, and Sweden, according to the office of institutional research.

What does SMU do to help these students mix with and meet Americans? It can be overwhelming to live and study in a country so drastically different from your own.

In Denmark, we had the choice to participate in a program where we were matched with a Dane and we would meet at least once a week to just do whatever. The students who participated all enjoyed it, saying it was cool to see the country with a guide who knew where to go and what was worth seeing.

I don’t know if that kind of program would work at SMU, but it might help international students cope with the culture shock.

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