Mexico’s Virtual Catholic Passion Plays Get Creative

TEXAS PUBLIC RADIO: Every Good Friday, for the last 176 years, the Iztapalapa neighborhood of Mexico City fills with religious pilgrims, tourists and the curious. In modern times, up to 2 million people crowd the streets to watch one of Latin America’s most elaborate reenactments of Christ’s crucifixion.

This year though, the whole affair has been moved indoors, and will be streamed live on the Internet and broadcast on national TV, due to Mexico’s nationwide COVID-19 shutdown.

Nearly 200 people have died in Mexico from COVID-19 and the country’s health officials estimate tens of thousands could be infected with the new coronavirus, although 3,441 cases are confirmed.

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Global deal to cut oil output in sight after Mexico signs up

HOUSTON CHRONICLE: The OPEC oil cartel and nations including Russia have agreed to boost oil prices by cutting as much as 10 million barrels a day in production. Even more countries, including the United States, were discussing Friday their own cuts in what would be an unprecedented global pact to stabilize the market.

The agreement between OPEC and partner countries aims to cut 10 million barrels per day until July, then an 8 million barrels per day cut through the end of the year, and 6 million a day for 16 months beginning in 2021.

Mexico had initially blocked the deal but its president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, said Friday that he had agreed with U.S. President Donald Trump that the U.S. will compensate what Mexico cannot add to the proposed cuts.

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Pregnant woman who required emergency C-section among COVID-19 fatalities in Juarez

BORDER REPORT: A 25-year-old woman who required an emergency C-section is among the 11 COVID-19 fatalities in Juarez, Chihuahua state health officials said.

The woman was admitted into clinic 66 of the Mexican Social Security Hospital last month, required the C-section on March 27 and remained hospitalized due to high blood pressure. She also had difficulty breathing, so a COVID-19 test was administered to her and it came back positive. She died on April 8, the state of Chihuahua said in a news release.

“This […] is one of the 11 persons that have lost their lives in Ciudad Juarez due to COVID-19,” the release said.

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The Arizona-Mexico border is usually busy during Holy Week. This year, it’s silent

ARIZONA CENTRAL: At this time of the year, the beaches of Puerto Peñasco are usually brimming with families and vendors selling trinkets and snacks to visitors. Hotels fill to capacity, and spending at its many bars and restaurants spikes as the U.S.-Mexico border region celebrates Semana Santa, or Holy Week.

It’s the busiest time of the year for the beach city, also known as Rocky Point and located on the Sea of Cortez, about an hour’s drive south of the Arizona-Mexico border. 

Tourism officials expected 120,000 visitors from Mexico and the U.S. to descend on Puerto Peñasco — twice the number of its permanent population — during the weeklong holiday that starts Palm Sunday and ends with Easter Sunday.

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How Coronavirus Has Changed Life Along US-Mexico Border

KPBS: San Diego and Tijuana are linked by geography, commerce and family ties. Now, they’re also linked by coronavirus pandemic restrictions.

Stay-at-home orders and closed businesses on both sides of the border have led to empty streets and a significant drop in both legal and illegal crossings.

Life is also uncertain for hundreds of Central American migrants who are waiting in Tijuana to come to the U.S. to seek asylum. Meanwhile, there’s a rising concern among immigrant advocates of the threat of the COVID-19 virus infection to immigrants held in detention in the U.S.

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More than 6,300 migrants turned away at U.S.-Mexico border under COVID-19 restrictions

ARIZONA CENTRAL: U.S. border agents processed and immediately expelled more than 6,300 migrants caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally since March 21, the date the U.S. began implementing a series of restrictions at the border to contain the spread of COVID-19. 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection disclosed the numbers on Thursday as part of its enforcement statistics for March. Overall, the number of border apprehensions fell slightly to 29,953, compared with February. 

Customs officers working at the ports of entry along the Southwestern U.S. border also processed fewer migrants in March. In all, officers processed 3,984 migrants deemed inadmissible to the country, a third less than in February. 

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Ruidoso’s peak season a bust as tourism from Mexico, Texas collapses over coronavirus

BORDERZINE: In this town where tourism is one of the biggest sectors of its economy, not having visitors can become a real problem.

Ruidoso has experienced a huge dropin tourism because of COVID-19 concerns beginning with spring break, one of the village’s busiest times of year after the winter season.

We actually haven’t been seeing a lot of tourism at all,” said Juan Sosa, a sales clerk at clothing store Parts Unknown in mid-March. That’s when the casinos, racetrack and ski resort saw a drop off in visitors before they closed down completely. “It’s affected the town as far as tourism quite a lot,” Sosa said.

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Borderlands: At the U.S.-Mexico border, time is money

FREIGHT WAVES: Getting goods across the border fast and efficiently is the goal of anyone moving international freight.

Experts from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) have been researching ways shippers and carriers can maximize profits and truckers can minimize wait-times at the United States-Mexico border.

Juan Carlos Villa, regional manager for Latin America at TTI, said each port of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border is unique and requires different strategies to get the best results for freight transport.

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Still Fearing Violence, Migrants Subject to Trump’s Remain in Mexico Policy Are Now Bracing for a Pandemic

TEXAS MONTHLY: Less than a mile away from the bridge that separates Matamoros from Brownsville, asylum seekers live in tents or makeshift shelters made from propped-up tarps, each one just a few inches or feet apart from the next. Clothes are strung up to dry between nearby trees or on the yellow safety barriers that line the camp. It’s nearly impossible to follow the oft-repeated coronavirus prevention recommendations suggested by the World Health Organization. Asylum seekers remain in close quarters, sharing portable toilets, communal showers, and a cellphone charging station.

Recently, signs posted around the camp have served as reminders for people to wash their hands or keep their distance from one another. Volunteer doctors who provide medical services to migrants there have emphasized the importance of keeping their tents well ventilated and instructed them to use homemade masks. These are less effective than medical-grade masks, but in crowded conditions, a fabric face covering can reduce droplet spread from coughs and help prevent migrants from touching their faces.

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Mexico’s Virtual Catholic Passion Plays Get Creative

TEXAS PUBLIC RADIO: Every Good Friday, for the last 176 years, the Iztapalapa neighborhood of Mexico City fills with religious pilgrims, tourists and the curious. In modern times, up to 2 million people crowd the streets to watch one of Latin America’s most elaborate reenactments of Christ’s crucifixion.

This year though, the whole affair has been moved indoors, and will be streamed live on the Internet and broadcast on national TV, due to Mexico’s nationwide COVID-19 shutdown.

Nearly 200 people have died in Mexico from COVID-19 and the country’s health officials estimate tens of thousands could be infected with the new coronavirus, although 3,441 cases are confirmed.

Read on…

Trump says US will ‘help Mexico along’ with its OPEC+ production cuts

CNBC: President Donald Trump said on Friday that the United States would “help Mexico along” with oil production cuts that it is meant to make under a global deal to shore up slumping crude oil prices, but said the details had yet to be worked out.

The comments suggest that Trump could be considering an unprecedented effort to orchestrate a production cut in the United States, historically the world’s most vocal proponent of the free market.

“What I thought I would do, and I don’t know that it is going to be accepted, we’ll find out, the United States will help Mexico along and they’ll reimburse us sometime at a later date when they are prepared to do so,” Trump said during a White House briefing on the coronavirus.

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Mexican president’s nationalist oil vision fuels standoff with Saudis

REUTERS: The biggest supply cut ever contemplated by the world’s top oil producers is hanging in the balance as a refusal by Mexico’s leftist leader to imperil his plans to rebuild state oil company Pemex has angered the Saudi prince who helped craft the deal.

For the past three days, Mexico has kept the oil industry on tenterhooks by resisting Saudi pressure to sign up to global cuts worth nearly a quarter of output for participating countries, aimed at reviving prices from their lowest level in decades.

Prices have collapsed as the new coronavirus outbreak has shuttered economies around the world and destroyed demand for fuel.

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Mexico’s coronavirus battle began late

SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS: Mexican cities and tourist destinations that normally draw thousands of people for spectacular Easter processions and celebrations have a new message for would-be visitors: Please stay out.

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Man charged with trafficking millions of dollars worth of drugs via tunnel from Mexico

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Federal authorities have charged a man known to have lived in Chula Vista with trafficking millions of dollars in illegal drugs through a tunnel that stretched from Mexico to a warehouse in Otay Mesa.

Rogelio Flores Guzman, 54, a Mexican national with legal residency in the U.S., was charged Friday with trafficking in fentanyl, methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and marijuana.

Flores, who was also known to have lived in Las Vegas and Victorville, was taken into custody Thursday at Los Angeles International Airport as he was boarding a plane to Guadalajara, Mexico. He was arraigned Friday afternoon in federal court via live video because of COVID-19 precautions.

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Judge rules ICE must allow detainees free, private calls with attorneys during pandemic

LOS ANGELES TIMES: A federal judge ruled Saturday that immigration enforcement officials must allow confidential telephone calls between detainees at the Adelanto ICE Processing Center and their attorneys in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

The 15-page ruling by U.S. District Judge Jesus G. Bernal found that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement must reverse a policy that critics said made it virtually impossible for detainees and their attorneys to confer in private at the facility, about 80 miles east of Los Angeles in San Bernardino County.

Bernal wrote that the agency must provide “free, reasonably private legal calls on unrecorded and unmonitored telephone lines, and must devise a reliable procedure for attorneys as well as detainees to schedule those calls within 24 hours of a request.”

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Coronavirus has killed scores of Mexicans in New York. Their families are fighting to bring them home

LOS ANGELES TIMES: For nearly two decades, José Felix Rojas crammed into apartments with fellow Mexican immigrants in the New York borough of Queens and toiled in delis and supermarkets, dutifully wiring dollars to his wife and four children back here in the state of Puebla.

“My husband always said he would come back home, maybe next year,” said his wife, Maclovia Zacatenco. “It was always next year.”

Now it is too late.

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OPEC, Allies Look to Resolve Saudi-Mexico Standoff and Seal Broader Oil Deal

WALL STREET JOURNAL: The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies are set to hold an emergency conference call Sunday as it inches closer to resolve a standoff between Saudi Arabia and Mexico that threatens to unravel a multinational agreement to help reverse an oil-price rout, delegates say.

The deadlock highlights Saudi Arabia’s new, uncompromising stance toward dissent from smaller oil producers. At a conference call Thursday between OPEC and its allies, Saudi’s energy minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, convinced Russia, a key rival in the oil market, to end a price war and join collective cuts of 10 million barrels a day. But he refused to compromise over curbs with small producer Mexico, which wanted to reduce output by 100,000 barrels a day, putting the finalization of the deal on hold.

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Young Shale CEO Asks Texas to Curb Oil Output as Coronavirus Cuts Prices

WALL STREET JOURNAL: One of the youngest chief executives in the American oil patch is slashing spending to survive a crash in crude prices, while trying to convince Texas to curtail output for the first time since the 1970s.

Matt Gallagher, the 37-year-old leader of Parsley Energy Inc., PE -2.53% is working to conserve cash and cut drilling to keep costs low at his company as the oil industry faces one of the worst demand drops ever because of the coronavirus pandemic.

From his home in Austin, Mr. Gallagher is also trying to rally fellow Texas oil producers to support a mandatory cut in production, a controversial idea in an industry where wildcatters frown at government intervention, and one that has put his company at odds with several of the industry’s largest drillers.

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Texas prisons won’t accept new county jail inmates as coronavirus spreads in lockups

TEXAS TRIBUNE: Starting Monday, the Texas prison system is no longer taking new inmates from county jails, according to an agency letter obtained by The Texas Tribune.

Bryan Collier, the executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, said in a letter to county sheriffs Saturday that he recognized the move would put an additional strain on counties, but he said the action is necessary. The new coronavirus has been confirmed in at least 10 county jails, and the number of state prisoners infected nearly doubled in one day last week, according to state agency reports.

“Halting the intake of new inmates will allow the TDCJ to fight this virus without further exposing both county and state inmates,” Collier wrote.

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Texas officials say they see signs that social distancing is slowing the spread of coronavirus

TEXAS TRIBUNE: The top officials responding to the coronavirus pandemic in Texas say they are seeing early signs of success in slowing its spread, though they are warning the fight is far from over and urging Texans to keep up their efforts to keep the virus at bay.

During two news conferences this week, Gov. Greg Abbott and his leading advisers in fighting the outbreak — officials like John Hellerstedt, state health commissioner — struck a very tentative but new tone of optimism about the situation in Texas. They said they were particularly encouraged by the declining rate at which the number of Texas cases is doubling, which was initially three days but is now up to six.

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City leaders assess damage; Pandemic hits sales tax revenue

BROWNSVILLE HERALD: Sales tax revenue, a big contributor to city of Brownsville’s general fund, is taking a big hit in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic and official measures aimed at stemming the spread of the virus.

The good news is that, even before there was a pandemic on the horizon, the city had implemented fiscal strategies that may help lessen the impact during the remaining fiscal year and beyond. Still, there will be an impact, and Brownsville City Manager Noel Bernal said sales tax revenue, which accounts for about 27 percent of the city’s budget, is expected to be affected the most as the economic fallout continues.

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Many here cannot do their jobs remotely

BROWNSVILLE HERALD: A study published this month ranked Brownsville among the 25 cities in the United States where the fewest people can work from home. The study highlighted concerns that workers in low-wage, essential jobs are on the front lines of the COVID-19 outbreak without the ability to maintain proper social distancing.

According to the study, published by SmartAsset, the company combined information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Job Flexibilities and Work Schedules survey with data from the U.S. Census Bureau to estimate the percentage of cities’ workforces with the ability to work remotely, according to the company’s website.

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36 new cases reported in Cameron County

VALLEY MORNING STAR: Cameron County reported late Saturday night that officials have received confirmation of 36 new coronavirus cases here.

The individuals range in age from 12 to 98. The new cases raise the total number to 195 in Cameron County. Of the 195, 62 individuals have recovered.

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Willacy extends shelter in place order

VALLEY MORNING STAR: Sparsely populated Willacy County is extending emergency orders aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

County Judge Aurelio Guerra is mandating federal guidelines and state and local shelter-in-place orders remain in effect through April 30.

“The intent of this order is to slow the spread of COVID-19 to the maximum extent possible within Willacy County while enabling essential services to continue to operate and to implement additional precautions when people leave their place of residence whether to obtain or perform essential services or to otherwise facilitate essential activities,” the order Guerra signed Thursday states.

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Hidalgo County reports seven new cases of COVID-19

MCALLEN MONITOR: Hidalgo County reported seven new cases of COVID-19 Saturday evening, bringing the county total to 188.

Currently, 33 individuals are hospitalized due to the virus with six of them in intensive care units, according to county health officials.

No new individuals have been released from isolation.

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Laredo Border Patrol chief criticized for coronavirus response

LAREDO MORNING TIMES: High-ranking U.S. Border Patrol officials in the Laredo Sector are failing to protect agents from COVID-19, said the National Border Patrol Council Local 2455 in an open letter posted on its Facebook page.

“It has become abundantly clear that Laredo Sector Chief Patrol Agent Felix Chavez and his sidekick, Watch Commander Charles “Chuck” Schlesinger, are failing to protect Border Patrol Agents from COVID-19. We are not sure if CPA Chavez is just being a ‘Lame Duck Chief’ since he will be retiring in less than (three) months, or maybe he prefers to downplay the seriousness and dangers of COVID-19,” states the post signed by Local 2455 President Hector Garza.

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Five additional COVID cases confirmed in Laredo, total 171

LAREDO MORNING TIMES: The City of Laredo and Webb County have confirmed an additional five cases of the novel coronavirus in Laredo, bringing the city’s total to 171.

Additional information was not available due to the city’s policy of not releasing identifying information on COVID-19 patients.

As of noon today, 985 tests for coronavirus have been conducted in Laredo. 484 have returned negative, with test results still pending for 330 patients.

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Nuevo Laredo confirms 8 COVID cases, issues warning about Easter gatherings

LAREDO MORNING TIMES: Nuevo Laredo has recorded an eighth confirmed case of COVID-19, municipal and state health officials confirmed late Wednesday night after press time.

The patient is a 43-year-old woman from the IMSS Hospital.

“Tonight, the cases in Nuevo Laredo rose to eight positives. Let’s prevent this from growing and take our responsibility as a society now. It is in our hands to save lives,” Nuevo Laredo Mayor Enrique Rivas Cuellar said.

Nuevo Laredo now has eight confirmed cases, eight suspected cases and two deaths, according to Tamaulipas health officials. With those numbers, Tamaulipas has 56 confirmed cases, 103 cases under investigation, five recovered and three deaths.

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How many ventilators does El Paso have? And is that enough?

EL PASO TIMES: News of Italian and New York City hospitals running dangerously low on ventilators has raised concerns locally as to whether El Paso has a sufficient number to handle a rise in critically-ill COVID-19 patients who struggle to breathe on their own.

The city’s major hospitals — University Medical Center of El Paso, Las Palmas and Del Sol Medical Centers, The Hospitals of Providence and El Paso Children’s Hospital — declined to release the number they have on hand.

City data though shows there are 307 ventilators in El Paso County, a figure the city said it received from its medical partners. That supply should be sufficient to meet demand, said Jorge Rodriguez, emergency management coordinator for the El Paso Office of Emergency Management.

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El Paso coronavirus update: COVID-19 cases rise to 269, deaths remain at two

EL PASO TIMES: There are269 COVID-19 cases and two confirmed deaths in El Paso County as of Saturday evening. 

There are 32 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Juarez. Nine people have died from the virus in Juarez, according to the Chihuahua state health department.

The Texas Department of State Health Services is reporting 12,561 cases and 254 confirmed coronavirus deaths in the state.

There are 1,091 cases in New Mexico, including 44 in Doña Ana County. There are 19 coronavirus deaths in the state.

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El Paso Psychiatric Center faces COVID-19 outbreak

EL PASO MATTERS: Eleven people being treated at or working at the El Paso Psychiatric Center have tested positive for COVID-19, sources familiar with the situation have told El Paso Matters.

Dr. Hector Ocaranza, El Paso’s city-county health authority, said in a news conference Thursday that 11 cases of COVID-19 — about 5 percent of El Paso’s 225 total cases — were tied to a health-care facility that he declined to identify. But multiple health-care and legal sources, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly, identified the facility as the El Paso Psychiatric Center, 4615 Alameda.

Both staff and patients at the center were infected, the sources said, although a precise breakdown wasn’t immediately available. 

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