Daily Archives: December 23, 2008

Actor Matthew McConaughey, Sinaloan beauty queen make news south of border

What do actor Matthew McConaughey and a Sinaloan beauty queen have in common?

They both recently got in a fix south of the border.

In the case of McConaughey, who likes to sprinkle his prose with the phrase “just keep living,” there is a happy ending. The actor writes in his blog that he and a friend went on a road trip and their car broke down somewhere in the middle of the desert in southern Baja California. He thanks an 82-year-old local woman called “Matty” who helped them out. Read more on McConaughey’s blog here.

The story of how Laura Elena Zuniga Huizar, “Our Beauty Sinaloa 2008,” was caught with a stash of firearms and thousands of dollars seems straight out of a Hollywood movie. Zuniga, from the Mexican state of Sinaloa, was detained along with seven men (the exact number seems to vary in news reports) at a military checkpoint in Guadalajara, according to this story in Vanguardia that also has a picture of her.

Zuniga’s reported explanation: They were going to go shopping in Bolivia and Colombia.

**UPDATED INFORMATION on Zuniga’s arrest in  this Associated Press story. Los Angeles Times reporter Tracy Wilkinson also  writes about Sinaloa’s drug trafficking connections in this story published Dec. 28:  “In Sinaloa, the drug trade has infiltrated ‘every corner of life.’ **


YouTube video of Laura Elena Zuniga Huizar – the woman in the yellow dress –  from NoroesteTV

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‘Tis the season – for long waits at the Tijuana border


syportentry1This is the time of year when street vendors in Tijuana sell mini Santa hats that people stick on their car windshields. It’s also the time of year when border waits turn the city’s streets into a tangled pretzel of cars trying to get out of Mexico and into San Diego County so that Mexicans can do some holiday shopping.

The waits can suck the ho-ho-ho out of even the most seasoned border veteran. Heading back north from Tijuana this weekend, I realized belatedly that I was going to have to join the seasonal exodus. Oh, if only Rudolph could have guided my way! Instead, I got in the “fast track” SENTRI lanes along with hundreds of other cars and nosed my way slowly to the border. Waiting an hour in SENTRI is no fun, but I couldn’t help but feel grateful towards the other north-bound travelers willing to endure this long wait to spend money in our sputtering economy. So, instead of being glum I cranked up some Christmas carols on the radio and wondered how much of this money was going to end up in cash registers north of the border.

A figure that’s frequently quoted is that an estimated $1.6 billion in goods and services were purchased by Baja California residents in San Diego County in 2002. This is attributed to Kenn Morris of Crossborder Business Associates in the insightful Blurred Borders report put out by the International Community Foundation. Even though it’s unclear to me how much of that money is spent during the holiday season, it illustrates the ties that bind our cross-border communities.

Photo taken during normal traffic – not seasonal holiday traffic.

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