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The San Diego Union Tribune news clips -- Diane Lindquist

The San Diego Union Tribune

July 31, 2000


NAFTA's bittersweet boom

Diane Lindquist

Staff Writer

LA JOYA, Mexico -- For more than a half-century, Jalisco's rural youth had little choice but to head north and sneak across the border into the United States for work.

But then came the North American Free Trade Agreement and the promise of jobs at home.

"With NAFTA we will export goods, not people," Carlos Salinas de Gortari said when he was Mexico's president.

In Jalisco, the state that has sent more undocumented workers to the United States than any other, only half of NAFTA's promise has come true.

Exports have increased 500 percent, and the state now ranks second in generating jobs. But young people still leave to work in the United States.

They leave partly because of money. Wages in the United States remain about eight times higher than in Mexico.

They also are driven by tradition. Migration has become so ingrained in the region's rural culture that, for young men, the trek north represents a rite of passage.

The exodus of Jalisco's youth, coupled with the state's job boom, has created what some people thought they never would see here: a labor shortage.

"If they have good eyesight, hands and legs, we'll hire them," said Hung Chee Loh, manager of NatSteel, which makes a variety of high-tech products in Guadalajara.

Searching for workers

An hour's drive east in Zapotlanejo, the clothing center of western Mexico, job candidates are in such short supply that Hector Alvarez, owner of Industrias Espuela de Oro, put auxiliary sewing plants in two villages. He also farms out home work to fill U.S., Asian and European demand for his western-style shirts and slacks.

Even farm workers are at a premium. So few local men are available to harvest crops that women and children are moving into the fields, along with migrants from Guerrero, Oaxaca and Chiapas.

"NAFTA showed it's very easy to oversell the speed at which development can happen," said Philip Martin, chairman of Migration Dialogue, an organization of international migration experts.

President-elect Vicente Fox has vowed to stop the labor outflow by creating better-paying jobs at home.

That is a daunting task.

If anything, NAFTA has proven that changing the decades-old pattern of cross-border movement will be more difficult than it once seemed.

"In coming years, the scenario will be radically different. Anything could happen," said Augustin Escobar, a migration researcher at Guadalajara's CIESAS institute.

NAFTA's successes and failures are especially vivid in Jalisco, a west-central Mexican state of 6 million best known for its tequila, mariachi music and the flashy horsemanship of its charros.

The state's economy was in shambles even before the 1994 peso devaluation and the recession that followed. But in 1995, a newly elected state government -- led by the party of president-elect Fox - - used NAFTA's favorable trade and investment provisions to spur growth.

"We selected the right areas of business and the right way to do it, and our timing was right," said Sergio Garcia de Alba, the state's economic development secretary.

As a result, Jalisco has been transformed into the model of a prosperous, modern, new Mexico.

In the last five years, more than 324,000 jobs were added, and companies keep generating more. The state now creates one of every 10 new positions in Mexico.

U.S. and Asian technology manufacturers, using NAFTA to import machinery and materials duty-free, have turned Guadalajara, a city of 1.6 million people, into Mexico's Silicon Valley.

Huge, flat factories are decked with permanent banners advertising for workers to assemble Motorola cellular phones, Dell computers, Hewlett-Packard printers and other technology gear shipped daily to consumers across North America.

Guadalajara's labor market is so tight that Jabil Circuits of St. Petersburg, Fla., recently decided against expanding there. It will open its next plant in Chihuahua.

Garment manufacturers in Zapotlanejo, a city of 70,000, compete furiously for cutters and sewers for their factories and for sales clerks at the scores of apparel shops that line the city's main streets.

Salvador Placencia, 18, is among the many young people turning their backs on this explosion of employment opportunities.

"There's lots of jobs around now, but they don't pay much," Placencia said as he milked cows near the rural village of La Joya.

Placencia sewed Wal-Mart garments in Zapotlanejo before quitting to help his father operate the family dairy. The youngest of Candelaria Placencia's 11 children, Salvador Placencia now is waiting for two of five brothers working in the United States to come home for a visit and take him back with them.

The pair, employed at a dairy near Santa Barbara, have delayed the trip because they have heard that the United States soon might grant amnesty to undocumented workers and they do not want to miss a chance -- however remote -- to become legal U.S. residents.

Until the brothers visit home, Placencia continues milking 11 cows twice a day.

"I need him here, but I understand it's a better life up there," said his 70-year-old father. "Here, what you earn in one week doesn't even buy a pair of shoes."

With a long tradition of migration to the United States, La Joya is typical of rural villages in western Mexico.

Despite the economic boom in nearby cities, the region remains so poor that when someone this year stole the three televisions that provide long-distance teaching at the secondary school, classes continued meeting without instruction until a private foundation donated replacements.

In June, 12 students graduated from Telesecundaria Benito Juarez Garcia. Without money to go on to preparatoria -- the equivalent of U.S. high school -- they planned to seek full-time work.

Where would the 15- and 16-year-olds look for jobs?

Nearly all the young men and several of the young women said they would go to the United States, rather than work in the factories or the region's many dairy farms.

They had relatives in California, Texas, Florida, Nebraska and the Carolinas, they said, and would join them to toil in fields, factories and meatpacking plants.

"More than half will go," said teaching assistant Moises Jimenez. "If the price of milk drops, they'll all go."

As president, Fox's greatest challenge could be to fulfill his pledge to reduce U.S. migration by raising Mexican salaries.

A free-market enthusiast, Fox is a former manager of Coca-Cola operations in Mexico and Central America, and head of family ranching, leather and shoe-making businesses. As governor of Guanajuato, he led an economic transformation much like Jalisco has experienced since NAFTA.

These experiences make Fox well-aware of NAFTA's half-filled promises. He speaks of taking the pact a step further by turning North America into a full-fledged common market with more opportunities to let Mexicans work legally in the United States.

He says the arrangement should bring Mexican living standards up to those of Mexico's NAFTA partner=pre Canada and the United States.

"So long as a worker in Mexico earns $5 per day and a worker in the United States earns $60, immigration problems will continue," Fox said soon after being elected president.

However, low wages are the lure attracting foreign companies to Jalisco and other locations in Mexico.

Guadalajara tech manufacturers pay their assembly workers about $1.60 an hour -- including federally mandated benefits.

Zapotlanejo garment workers are paid less, from $1 to $1.25 an hour.

Minus benefits, take-home pay in Mexico averages $5 per day. That is about the same amount earned per hour under the U.S. federal minimum wage of $5.15. California's minimum wage is $5.75 per hour.

Guadalajara's high-tech managers are so determined to keep salaries from inching up, said NatSteel's Loh, that they meet monthly to make certain everyone is maintaining the going rate.

However, it is uncertain whether wages can remain low if the pool of workers keeps shrinking.

U.S. migration taps a large part of the supply. But the number of job-seekers also is declining due to a major demographic shift. During the last two decades, the number of children per family has dropped to 2.5 from 6.1.

The birth rate is plummeting fastest in areas of highest migration, researcher Escobar said.

"For 15 years, ... we needed emigration to help our people find work," he said. "But at some point in the next five to six years at the latest, we should have a major change in job absorption and labor migration."

The result could trigger the most significant change in Mexico- U.S. migration since shortly after World War I, when the U.S. government let farmers recruit Mexican workers. Migration continued under the bracero program between 1942 and 1964 and was sustained over the following years by Mexico's rapid population growth, government policies that produced rural poverty and a tolerance on both sides of the border for unauthorized migration.

Still, no one predicts that one of the greatest global migrations of modern times will end soon.

Some argue the demographic and economic changes will have minimal effect. They say cross-border flows will increase for two to five decades more.

Others predict the situation today in Jalisco is the precursor of changes that will slow migration by as early as 2005.

"The demographics have changed, there's job creation in Mexico, and the number of low-wage jobs in the United States is static or shrinking," said Migration Dialogue's Martin. "That should make it easier for NAFTA to work its wonders."

Jalisco, post-NAFTA

13,600 new foreign and Mexican companies opened businesses.

A total of $4.7 billion was invested in business ventures.

Sales of Jalisco-made goods abroad reached $12.3 billion last year, five times more than before NAFTA.

Tequila producers increased exports 30 percent, selling mainly to U.S. and European urbanites who have made the agave liquor their aperitif of choice.

The state became Mexico's top telecommunications and electronics manufacturer, with those goods accounting for 73.3 percent of exports.

Nearly three-quarters of Jalisco's exports go to the United States.

Sources: State of Jalisco; Mexico's National Institute of Statistics

The San Diego Union Tribune

June 29, 2002

Four migrant attackers sentenced | Two go to prison for 90-day evaluations; two get county time

Greg Moran

Staff Writer

In an emotional hearing yesterday, a judge sentenced four teen- agers who beat and robbed Mexican migrant workers to terms ranging from four months in county custody to 90-day evaluations in state prison.

The teen-agers listened with heads bowed as two of their victims testified about the ordeal and its effect on their lives.

The aging laborers described the horror of being hunted down at their shanties in a canyon off Black Mountain Road in Rancho Penasquitos on July 5, 2000. Two of the boys were in tears.

The crime stunned the San Diego community and became the first case in the state to test the legality of Proposition 21, a new law that toughened prosecutions for juveniles charged with certain crimes. The defendants were 14 to 17 at the time of the crimes.

Four other youths who were part of the attack will learn their fates when the same judge sentences them next month.

All were charged as adults, and they pleaded guilty or no contest to assault, elder abuse and robbery.

Superior Court Judge James Milliken rejected requests from defense attorneys yesterday that the youths be sentenced under less- severe juvenile laws.

An outspoken opponent of Proposition 21, Milliken nonetheless said, "It is the law, and this court will follow the law."

He also said he wanted the sentences to send a message.

"The fact that this behavior is possible is a pretty sad commentary on the community," he said. "I, for one, feel we have to tell the community we're not going to put up with this behavior."

Milliken sentenced Morgan Manduley, 17, to four months at Camp Barrett, a youth correctional camp in the East County. Jason Beever, 16, received a six-month term there.

The judge also sentenced Manduley and Beever to five years' probation, 200 hours of community service, including racial and cultural sensitivity training. The two, prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed, were the least culpable in the attacks.

Two others, Bradly Davidofsky, 18, and Adam Ketsdever, 18, will be evaluated for 90 days at a state prison in Chino to determine if they should serve further time in a prison or a county jail.

That decision will be made at a sentencing hearing Oct. 25. The youths face maximum terms of 15 years. Their attorneys said they were confident the two will not end up in prison, largely because they have no prior criminal records.

Because of their pleas to all charges, the teen-agers have two felony convictions. Under the "three strikes" law, any future felony conviction will mean a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.

Milliken was expected to sentence 17-year-old Michael Rose yesterday, but that was delayed until July 23, when the other three defendants are scheduled for sentencing. They are Kevin Williams, 17; Steve Deboer, 18; and Nicholas Fileccia, 18.

Prosecutors have said that Davidofsky, Ketsdever and Rose were the three most culpable in the attacks. All three apologized in court yesterday, saying they regretted their actions.

When they were arrested, the youths told police they had set out to "hunt" Mexicans who lived in encampments in the canyon near the Rancho Penasquitos neighborhood where the boys lived.

Armed with BB guns, pipes and sticks, they made three separate forays, attacking five migrant workers, hitting them with rocks and shooting BBs at them.

The most seriously injured worker was Anastacio Irigoyen, now 71. He told the court through a translator that his life will never be the same.

"They left me there for dead," he said. "I don't think the same anymore. I forget everything. I have changed a lot."

His son, Hericlio, said his father -- once an agile, vigorous man -- is now just a shell of himself. "They changed his life and the lives of all his family. He isn't the same person he was before."

Irigoyen still carries a BB in his face, near his left eye. Alfredo Sanchez, 65, has almost 20 BBs in his body from the attack. Prosecutor Hector Jimenez said when San Diego police found Sanchez, he was lying in the fetal position; he was bloody and he refused to come out of his tiny hut.

While acknowledging the damage done to the victims, defense attorneys pressed for leniency. Manduley's attorney, Kerry Steigerwalt, described his client as remorseful and ashamed.

Manduley did not attack any of the victims, Steigerwalt said. He said he was terrified during the violence and went along only out of peer pressure.

The teen-ager tearfully apologized to the victims. His mother, Debra, said outside of court that the incident was out of character for an otherwise "super child."

While the Manduley family expressed regret in a written statement, they also chafed at the decision to prosecute their son as an adult even though he had "a peripheral role as a barely 15- year-old kid."

The decision to charge all eight as adults triggered a lengthy legal battle that went to the state Supreme Court, which ruled this year that Proposition 21 is constitutional.

After yesterday's proceedings, migrant rights activists seemed satisfied with the sentences. Claudia Smith of the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation called the variety of sentences "thoughtful."

"It sends that kind of message out, that migrants aren't fair game," she said.

Hericlio Irigoyen had mixed feelings about the sentences.

"I think justice is being done," he said. "But I think it was moderated."

The San Diego Union Tribune

Nov. 12, 2002

Latinos sent record amount to home countries in '01

By Leonel Sanchez

Staff Writer

Latino immigrants sent a record $23 billion to relatives and others in their home countries last year despite the soft economy, a report released yesterday found.

Remittances to Mexico and Central America alone will represent more than $14 billion of the total this year, up from $10 billion two years ago, according to the report by the Pew Hispanic Center and the Inter-American Development Bank.

The increasing sums are "evidence of a kind of economic activity that is resistant to the U.S. business cycle," said Roberto Suro, director of the Pew Hispanic Center. "They also reflect the needs pressed by economic hard times in Latin America and efforts by governments in those receiving countries to smooth the flows."

Most of the senders in the United States are recently arrived immigrants with little education who work in low-paying jobs but place a high priority on sending money to their families, Suro said.

"Those sums are also the monetary expression of a profound human bond between people who come to the United States to work for long hours at low wages and the families they left behind," he said.

Immigrants are concerned about the high cost of sending money home, however, according to a survey conducted for the report. Most immigrants use money-wiring services and are not aware of less- expensive options with banks or credit unions. As a result, the report said, fees gobble up as much as 15 percent of the money immigrants send home.

Only 9 percent of the people in the survey said they use banks to send money home; 83 percent use a wiring company, and 8 percent use a courier or family member.

Reducing the fee cost to 5 percent would free up more than $1 billion next year for "some of the poorest households" in the United States, Mexico and Central America, the report said. That is more of a possibility now that banks and credit unions are competing for Latino immigrant dollars, the report said.

"U.S. banks are moving aggressively to capture a greater share of the remittance market. And they are getting encouragement, even assistance, from both the U.S. and Mexican governments," the report concluded.

"These developments should increase competition and hence, lead to lower fees, greater investments in technology and a more efficient remittance flow."

For the report, the Miami-based polling firm Bendixen & Associates interviewed 302 remittance senders in Los Angeles and Miami to gauge their understanding of the money-transferring industry.

The immigrants who send money to relatives sent an average of $200 a month for ordinary living expenses such as rent, utilities and food. Some immigrants also send money to maintain businesses.

The survey showed that most were not aware of the full costs that they pay to send money home, which often involve flat fees and can increase if exchange rates are unfavorable.

Many expressed concern about opening a U.S. bank account because of balance requirements and transaction fees. But many said they would consider using low-cost electronic banking services, such as automatic teller machines set up for international transactions.

The report also showed a reluctance among Mexican undocumented immigrants to open a bank account out of fear of being detected and deported. That fear is being alleviated by the growing acceptance of identification cards issued by the Mexican government to Mexicans living in the United States, the report noted.

Banks are increasingly accepting the cards, which feature the holder's photograph and U.S. address, to open accounts.

Mexican consulates issued 740,000 identification cards during the first nine months of this year. The Mexican government says the ID cards are now accepted by 66 banking institutions and 801 police departments. Mexican consulates, including the one in San Diego, recently began distributing 600,000 booklets explaining in Spanish how to open bank accounts.

San Diego Mexican consulate spokesman Alberto Lozano said Mexico wants its citizens in the United States to use ATMs more to send money home.

"We don't tell the migrant what bank to go to," he said. "We tell them only to go to the bank that gives them two debit cards, one for Mexico and one for here."

The San Diego Union Tribune

June 30, 2002


In Tijuana's dump, hundreds eke out a meager existence from a metropolis' trash

Anna Cearley

Staff Writer

TIJUANA — The fire came without warning, blazing quickly through the tiny shacks built at the edge of the city dump.

The residents poured out, roused from their sleep and in shock as the flames lapped at what little they owned — homes built from junk wood and furniture pieced together from trash.

Known as pepenadores, or scavengers, their lives had always revolved around the dump, where they made their living sifting through the city's trash for recyclable goods. They carried home aluminum cans, wood and clothing, some to sell and some to use.

After the smoke cleared and the sun came up Feb. 10, Dolores Hernandez and her 10 grown children surveyed the charred land where their houses stood. It looked bleak and unpromising — just as it had when they came here 16 years ago.

"We will rebuild," they vowed.

About 400 Tijuanans, most of them poor, lost their homes in fires across the city on that dry and blustery weekend.

Although no one died at the dump, the trash pickers' plight was especially poignant because they had so much — and so little — to lose. The fire at Colonia Fausto Gonzalez left about 150 people homeless, with 11 of the 32 destroyed homes belonging to the Hernandez clan.

City officials offered to relocate the fire victims to safer ground about seven miles away, but most refused to leave.

The pepenadores' lives are inextricably linked to trash: They wear clothes from the dump, and in hard times forage for food there. When they die, their bodies are buried in a little cemetery that was once part of the dump.

Their story is one of resourcefulness in the face of flames, political changes and poverty. Even as the city prepares to close the dump and open a modern facility elsewhere, the pepenadores remain focused on daily survival. They have little time to worry about the future.

`We got used to things'

Dolores Hernandez grew up picking beans — not trash.

She left elementary school after two years to work with her parents on the farms that dot the Pacific Coast state of Nayarit. She has 10 children, but neither of her husbands stuck around.

Hernandez eventually moved north to the state of Sonora, where she and her children followed the crops. But the work depended on the seasons and weather, so when her son, Guadalupe, traveled west to Tijuana and told her she could find work at the city dump, she decided to give it a try.

"Working in the dump was hard at first," said Hernandez's daughter, Gloria Moncada, 46, mother of four children. "We weren't accustomed to the smells, and it was very ugly. We wanted to go back, but we didn't have any money. Over time, we got used to things."

The Hernandez clan is part of a wave of migrants who have contributed to Tijuana's haphazard evolution. The city is adding about 65,000 residents a year, with much of that growth coming from migration. Put into physical perspective, the newcomers are expanding the city's boundaries by roughly 8 acres a day.

Housing, roads, running water and other public services haven't kept up with demand. The poor get electricity by hooking up illegal lines that fire officials believe were a factor in the Fausto Gonzalez fire. Mudslides and fires occasionally sweep through canyons, wiping out homes made of cardboard, tin and wood.

Mexico's trash pickers aren't necessarily the poorest of the poor, said Martin Medina, a researcher with the Colegio de la Frontera Norte who has studied trash dumps throughout the world. Members of some well-organized cooperatives earn as much as $800 a month for their work, he said. Most trash pickers, however, sell their goods through middle men, so their earnings usually range from $200 to $500 a month.

Members of the Hernandez family each earn $100 to $150 a month scavenging for used clothing. Tijuana's pepenadores earn about $1 per item of clothing or per wooden pallet, 50 cents per pound of copper and about 30 cents per pound of aluminum cans.

Their earnings are linked to the world economy.

"If you have a strike in the paper mills in British Columbia, that will affect the price paid for paper," Medina said. "When countries like Russia need cash and sell their aluminum supplies, then the prices go down and that affects scavengers all over the world."

In Mexico City, Medina estimates about 15,000 trash pickers work in the dumps. Some believe Tijuana has as many as 600 pepenadores.

"All you need is a plastic bag to start collecting aluminum cans and other scraps of value," Medina said. "It's common for people who move to the cities and can't get a job and who are looking for alternatives."

But the job comes with health risks — and a stigma.

Medina has found that Mexico City's dump scavengers have a life expectancy of 39 years, compared to the general population's life expectancy of 67. Studies in Manila have identified more than 35 diseases in scavenger communities. In Colombia, trash pickers have been targeted by paramilitary groups who kill "undesirables" such as common criminals, prostitutes and drug addicts.

Hernandez appears to overlook the risks.

"There are benefits to working here," she said. "You can set your own hours, and the work is steady."

The February fire erased 16 years of her family's labor, incinerating mattresses, tables and electrical devices. Though fire officials suspected an electrical short, some residents blame the gases that seep out of the layers of fermenting trash at the dump's original location. That area is now covered with houses and a cemetery, but in some places the gas shoots out of the ground in curled plumes. Some residents capture the fumes to run their stoves.

After the fire, the city offered residents a low-cost option to buy land in safer areas, but few accepted because they couldn't make the long commute. Gloria Moncada, after much agonizing, decided to move to a site where Project Mercy, a San Diego County group, is building concrete block homes for the fire victims.

"But my roots are here," she said, after collecting a bag of clothes at the dump. The new house, she said, will be "just a place to sleep in."

Responsibility, a San Ysidro-based group that runs a kindergarten in the dump community, raised $19,000 to help fire victims rebuild or move to the new sites. Each family got about $500, and the group also distributed about $8,000 worth of used clothes.

"It's hard to begin over again, but this is where we want to be," Hernandez said.

Politics of trash

The Tijuana trash pickers look like phantoms floating through the early morning mist as they pass through a cemetery and up a steep, gravelly hill to the plateau that is the city's dump.

Some of the women wear make-up and jewelry, as if they are going to office jobs. Moncada dons a hat and wraps a piece of cloth around her mouth and nose to protect it from irritants. Fresh ocean air provides relief from the sporadic gusts of brutal smells, but at times the stench from decaying trash in the dump's deep belly is overwhelming.

About 1,200 tons of trash are carried each day by trucks that dump their goods in a cacophony of creaks and wheezes. The pepenadores, careful to avoid being hit, lunge after the fresh batches of trash for items they can sell or use themselves: cloth diapers, pieces of clothing, parts of electronics, yogurt with expired dates that may be edible.

Trash used to be an organized part of the political machinery during the Institutional Revolutionary Party's 71-year-rule of Mexico.

During most of the 1980s, the Tijuana dump was run by a business consortium including party activist Fausto Gonzalez, whom the community is named after. Trash dump workers remember being trucked to the polls in election years to vote for the PRI.

Some remember Gonzalez as a benevolent leader, who doled out land, paid workers' hospital bills and burial costs, and held an annual Mother's Day dinner and dance. Others say Gonzalez ran the dump as his fiefdom, allowing workers to sell their goods only to him at low prices.

When the National Action Party won the governor's seat in Baja California in 1989, the dump's management disintegrated along with the PRI structure.

Gonzalez now runs a small metals recycling business in Ensenada, and the dump concession is held by a subsidiary of Promotora Ambiental, a Monterrey-based company that runs 11 dumps in Mexico. The workers formed a nonpolitical workers' committee, which critics say has spawned its own brand of favoritism regarding who gets the "best" goods.

Salvador Morales, 58, the committee president, said there are no favorites.

"We all work together and take what we can," he said, as his wife, Zanaida, wearing lipstick and a necklace, tore through bags of discarded diapers that can be washed and reused.

As Morales talked, Tijuana's discarded goods flowed into the dump. Several trash pickers hoisted bathroom sinks on their shoulders. Others filled plastic bags with crumpled aluminum cans as gulls hovered overhead.

Over the years, trucks have injured, even killed, some workers. Needles are often stuck in the mix. Toxic substances end up in the trash pickers' circulatory systems.

"Many of the parents have become drug addicts due to their exposure to the cement glue and other solvent liquids found at the dump," said a former trash picker, Felipe Quiroz Gonzalez, who now teaches at the community's kindergarten, which has 82 students. "Their children don't finish more than the sixth grade, and they end up working in the dump or becoming thieves."

The kindergarten and an elementary school, both built by Responsibility, have provided some hope for residents. A sizable number of children whose parents work at the dump are getting a basic education and finding work at the nearby maquiladoras. But as they move on, new families arrive, and the cycle starts over.

The Tijuana city government acknowledges that the pepenadores play a vital role in reducing the volume of trash that must be compacted each day and seasoned each night with a fresh layer of dirt. But the dump is almost full, and the city is looking for a site to open a modern, more mechanized dump.

The pepenadores' role at the new dump is unclear.

"They shouldn't be working like they do, because it's a health problem," said Jose Luis Leon Romero, director of the city's public works department. "They should be able to obtain a more dignified job that doesn't carry the risk of them being infected or becoming sick as happens at the trash dump."

Moncada and other trash pickers say they can't get better jobs because they don't have high school diplomas or valid forms of identification, such as birth certificates. Rejected by much of society, the trash pickers embrace the trash for what it gives them: security and jobs.

"We will follow the trash wherever it takes us," Moncada said.

The San Diego Union Tribune

July 17, 2002

Mexican immigrant office to be absorbed

Move seen as victory for foreign minister

Jerry Kammer

Staff Writer

WASHINGTON – After weeks of political infighting in the Cabinet of Mexican President Vicente Fos, the high-profile office that represents Mexicans living abroad has been absorbed into the Mexican Foreign Ministry, officials said yesterday.

The shake-up marks a defeat for Juan Hernandez, the outspoken Mexican-American who built strong ties to Mexicans in the United States and stirred controversy by saying he wanted even seventh- generation Mexican-Americans to think "Mexico first."

The move also signals a victory for Foreign Minister Jo