December 19, 2003

The Public Forum . . . El Foro Publico

An Open Letter

I am the General Manager of the railroad between Tijuana and Tecate and my company is Ferrocarriles Peninsulares del Noroeste (FPN). We are a sister company of Carrizo Gorge Railway, the firm that has the operating contract in México as well as on a portion of the rail line that has been out of service for 20 years in eastern San Diego County. My office is located along the railroad tracks as they enter/leave México for the United States. I guess many people, including most in Tijuana, would say that they enter México from the United States, so it is a matter of perspective.

Things are going to change very fast in México when the rail line through eastern San Diego County is reopened in January. From what I can see, the last blockage on the rail line will be cleared next week. This will allow the Union Pacific Railroad (UP) to compete head on with Burlington Northern-Santa Fe (BNSF) for the movement of goods in the San Diego and northwestern Baja California areas.

We now move about 20 cars a day into and out of the rail crossing at Tijuana-San Ysidro. With the lower rates offered by UP, I anticipate that about 80% of the cargo for Tijuana, as well as San Diego, will be moving via UP and this will mean a huge amount of rail traffic thorough Tecate and Tijuana. This will add a lot of jobs to keeping the rail line maintained in Baja California as well as in eastern San Diego County.

About once a week, my locomotives hit a car at the many unprotected road-rail grade crossings in Tecate or Tijuana. Since in México we are under the federal railroad regulations, we generally just push the car out of the way once the police or ambulance arrive and move on. There is a movement afoot to get the crossings protected but the local city governments, as well as the state administrator to which we are subject, has done nothing to cure this problem with the hundred of thousands of dollars they have exacted from us over the past two and a half years.

But another thing I see from my office is the stupid Berlin Wall that Congressman Duncan Donuts had put up. Not only is there a gate right on the border railroad crossing, but there is a giant gate, a few meters to the north, much like I remember seeing in the movie about King Kong when the natives tried to keep him from leaving his territory on the island. The Border Patrol usually sleeps in their shiny new Jeeps or Explorers at the vehicle gate to the west of the Gates of Kong. A few weeks ago, my assistant at the Tijuana Depot advised me that there was an event each Christmas by which a group from Tijuana and a group from San Ysidro met at the railroad gate. It was like a posada but something special. It was not the political wailing at the wall for those poor souls that lost their lives trying to reach their dream in the US. It was just a show of unity at Christmas time. The San Ysidro group thought they would do things the right way and requested a permit from MTS, the old MTDB, that owns the line as well as the Trolley lines. The acting General Manager, Jack Limber, denied the application, so I got a call from Christian Ramirez’s group at American Friends to see if I could help out, having been in a prior life a City Councilman from National City and Director of MTDB and the San Diego Trolley. When I explained to Jack, via e-mail, the past activity and the connection with Christmas, he backed off and only requested a certificate of insurance. Now we think the Border Patrol will let the San Ysidro contingency through their vehicle gate of the Gates of King, but I’m not sure. The trains won’t be running on the weekend, so there is no conflict with people being on the rail line. Come and join us on either the San Ysidro or Tijuana side on Saturday, 20 December, between 3PM and 7PM. I’m going to try to have a couple of vats of that special warm chocolate drink that shows up at Christmas!

Mitch Beauchamp

Saddam Hussein has been captured

Since Hussein’s ouster has been  the stated goal of the Bush administration invasion, we propose the following appropriate U.S. response:

a.. Bring Saddam Hussein to trial before a special international tribunal.

b.. Request U.N. provide immediate peace keepers to help Iraq recover from chaos of invasion, sanctions and war.

c.. Transfer the $87 billion designated for Iraqi reconstruction to UN peace keepers and  to help rebuild Iraq.

d.. Bring all  U.S. troops home.

e.. Declare a state of peace with all countries. Cut the military budget by 50%.

f.. Divert U.S. power and resources from interventions to meeting the social, economic and political needs of the people of the  U.S.

g.. Respect international laws and support efforts to bring developing countries out of dependence and poverty.

h.. Its time to end the war on Iraq.

Tanja Winter
La Jolla

Felicitación a la Periodista Luz Aída Salomón

Felicito a la periodista Luz Aída Salomon porque he estado leyendo sus artículos, sobre todo el más reciente sobre la esposa del presidente mexicano Vicente Fox.

     Asombran los conocimientos de la periodista sobre la política mexicana y escritos con mucha claridad. Soy brasileña, estudiante de derecho. Estuve estudiando en San Diego, donde conocí a mexicanos viviendo en Estados Unidos y con estos artículos que he leído entiendo más sobre cual es la situación de ese país.

Michelle Rosset
Via email

Stories hit home

I ablsolutely found your stories to hit home. They had a sense of the real voice of Latinos that stood out at least to me from a lot of other sites. Congratulations!

Louis Pagan
Via email

Mexican Gray Wolves need our help

I am fourteen years old, and I go to Santa Fe Preparatory School, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I’m writing to discuss the very important issue of the Mexican Gray Wolves.

These animals have inhabited their original territory of Mexico, New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado, since prehistoric times. However, in the 19th century, with the arrival of ranchers into the southwest, the wolves began to die off. The ranchers were afraid that the wolves would kill their livestock, and so they began to “fix” the problem, using mainly shotguns and rifles.

By the 1920’s, the Mexican Gray Wolf was nearly extinct. In fact, it was listed as “extinct” in the United States at one point, and “highly endangered” in Mexico.

In 1977, a program was instituted to reintroduce the wolf into its native habitat. It had a goal of one hundred wolves. Today, in 2003, there are twenty-two. A long way from the goal.

We believe that while admirable, this program needs additional government funds, to assist in the preservation of one of the oldest species of wolf in America.

Jenna Ross
New Mexico

Great Paper

Great paper this week. On the Pete Wilson statue, well if they do put this man up in bronze they should at least keep him lifelike -embracing a swastika or a bag of political money and with at least one brass San Diego Chicano behind him kicking him in directly in the artistic and true to the local history, we’ll call it “Pedro con amigo profundo” .
Virgil Pina
Chula Vista

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