The main objectives of the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diegoâ€™s Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies are â€œto promote border-related scholarship, activities and community at the University of San Diego, and to promote an active role for the University in the cross-border community.â€
This past year the TBI has focused more on violence in Mexico, with drug wars and murders being pushed to the top of the news from local newspapers and television stations to national media outlets. TBI Director David Shirk has been called upon routinely to provide some perspective on whatâ€™s happening in the country next door.
More recently, TBI data that provides an appalling view of drug-related violence in Mexico has become a vital part of the Los Angeles Times’ special series â€œMexico Under Siege, The drug war at our doorstep.â€ According to that data, collected from Agencia Reforma news agency, the estimated number of people who have died in drug-related violence in Mexico since the beginning of 2007 is 7,337.
Members of the Timesâ€™ editorial team covering the issue recently joined forces with the TBI and Mexican officials for a panel discussion, also called â€œMexico Under Siege.â€ Panelists included Shirk, Times reporter Rich Marosi, Times photographer Don Bartletti and former San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Anna Cearley. Each panelist provided a unique picture of their take on the issue, with journalists detailing what they have seen and experienced while gathering the news. There were also former Mexican political officials to shed some light on the role of that government in the war on drugs.
Previously, the issue of border violence was discussed during the TBIâ€™s annual Media Roundtable. Reporters addressed the notion that their primary coverage of Mexico has focused on drugs and violence. They also discussed the perception by some that their coverage was hurting tourism in the border area.
â€œThe fact of the matter of is, as some people discussed, newsrooms are shrinking and border reporters have fewer resources and basically less time and space to cover the broad plethora of issues that are out there on the border, and so it comes down to what are the most urgent, striking and pressing issues,â€ Shirk said. â€œAnd for the last year or two, drug violence in Mexico has led because it is by far the most urgent issue that policy makers are confronting â€” not the most important necessarily, but itâ€™s certainly the most urgent.â€
â€” Denise T. Ward
For more information on TBI events and programs, go to http://www.sandiego.edu/tbi/. You can view the L.A. Times â€œMexico Under Siegeâ€ special section at http://projects.latimes.com/mexico-drug-war/#/its-a-war.