How avocado pits are turned into biodegradable silverware

  • Last year, Americans consumed over 6 billion avocados, leaving behind tons of inedible pits that turn into food waste.
  • The Mexican company Biofase converts around 130 tons of avocado seeds a month into forks, knives, spoons, and straws.
  • The company claims its bioplastic food products have a lower carbon footprint than any other comparable material – even paper.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in January 2021.

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Some Tijuana locals say they’re hopeful about a new Amazon warehouse that social media users called dystopian

Amazon fulfillment center Tijuana, Mexico
Visiting the community of Nueva Esperanza in Tijuana, Mexico next to Amazon’s new fulfillment center.

  • Amazon’s new warehouse in Tijuana, Mexico borders homes made of wood, tarps, and cardboard.
  • Some residents of the homes have reportedly said they are fearful Amazon will kick them out.
  • Insider went to Tijuana, where several residents said they were grateful for the new jobs.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Amazon’s newest fulfillment center in Tijuana, Mexico made headlines after it opened in September and put the neighboring community of Nueva Esperanza in the spotlight.

Photographer Omar Martinez captured photos of the Amazon facility, the first of its kind in Tijuana, that showed the brand-new facility standing feet away from a sprawling community of makeshift homes made of wood, tarps, and cardboard, where stray dogs lie in unpaved streets.

The photos were widely shared on social media, with users quick to condemn them as “dystopian” symbols of inequality, as Insider’s Katie Canales reported. Some residents have expressed fears that Amazon could evict them, while the local government has praised Amazon’s decision to move into the northwestern Mexican city.

Insider hired an interpreter and crossed the border to talk with residents living in the shadow of Amazon’s new facility. Most of the eight people interviewed for this story said they felt hopeful about Amazon’s arrival in Tijuana.

Locals praise Amazon’s new jobs

“It’s good for the community because it brings jobs,” said Rosano Ochoa Builon, whose home neighbors the Amazon warehouse. “The factory is welcome.”

She said she was surprised by the recent media attention on the facility, saying she’s never seen anything like it in 20 years of living there.

The blue and gray Amazon factory is instantly recognizable when approaching by air or on land. It sits in a newly-developed industrial zone on the Tijuana River just a few miles from the US-Mexico border.

Amazon fulfillment center Tijuana, Mexico
Amazon opened the facility in September and says it’s creating 250 new jobs.

Lourdes Velazquez Toledo, who runs the eatery Comedor/Antojitos Mexicanos just outside the main gate to the industrial park, told Insider that she’s seen an increase in customers since Amazon moved in.

“It’s a better job than what they had before,” Velazquez Toledo said of Amazon’s new hires, speculating that local factories could lose workers to Amazon.

It’s unclear what Amazon is paying workers at the Tijuana facility. Amazon declined Insider’s request to confirm its wages, saying only that it pays “industry-competitive salaries.”

Amazon pays workers a $15 minimum hourly wage in the US and at a nearby facility just over the border in San Diego, California. By comparison, Tijuana’s 2021 minimum wage is around 26 pesos ($1.29) an hour – which is slightly higher than the minimum wage elsewhere in Mexico given the city’s status as a special economic zone near the US border.

Amazon fulfillment center Tijuana, Mexico
Locals reported hearing Amazon offering wages at the Mexican peso equivalent of $15 per hour for some positions.

Reuters reported in April that 15 contracted staffers at Amazon warehouses across Mexico earned roughly 25 pesos ($1.25) per hour – above the minimum wage in their area – plus bonuses. The report also included allegations of unfair mandatory overtime practices.

Without confirming any specifics, Amazon has managed to make an impression – at least among the locals interviewed by Insider – that its wages are competitive. Two employees of a nearby factory told Insider that they’ve heard that Amazon’s jobs are “good work in a good company” and that they pay well, without knowing specifics on wages.

One resident of Nueva Esperanza, who asked not to be identified, said some of her coworkers quit their jobs to work at Amazon. She said they may have left because of the perception that Amazon is a “better company than ours” and had a nicer facility.

She also said she had seen social media posts that expressed concern over whether Amazon could destroy nearby homes because they were giving the e-commerce giant a “bad image.”

Amazon fulfillment center Tijuana, Mexico
Amazon’s facility was built from the ground up in Tijuana.

Amazon declined to comment directly on the Nueva Esperanza settlement but told Insider: “We are in constant communication with the local government to find a way to generate a positive impact in the community.”

“At Amazon, we are committed to the development of Mexico and the communities in which we operate, benefiting thousands of Mexican families, through the generation of direct and indirect jobs,” Amazon said.

The Amazon fulfillment center will allow for same-day deliveries in Tijuana and next-day deliveries to nearby cities, a government press release said. Amazon is investing around $21 million into the ground-up construction of the 344,000-square-foot facility.

“Since our arrival in Mexico, Amazon has created more than 15,000 jobs throughout the country and now we are adding 250 in Tijuana, creating employment opportunities with industry-competitive compensation packages for all our employees, who enjoy benefits superior to the law, such as health insurance, life insurance, savings fund, and food vouchers,” an Amazon spokesperson told Insider in a statement.

Amazon fulfillment center Tijuana, Mexico
The community of Nueva Esperanza is a collection of makeshift homes and unpaved streets.

“Our wages and benefits strengthen local communities, and our investments help these areas to grow and to build better futures,” Amazon said, citing 6.5 billion pesos of donations in Mexico that it says helped 30,000 families.

A woman who lives near the new warehouse told the Voice of San Diego that she’s worried about being kicked out of her home.

“They have not threatened us directly with eviction but we have seen how other houses in the neighborhood have been sidelined to move or worse have destroyed their homes because they want to develop the land. I just don’t want that to happen to us, ” she said.

While none of the locals interviewed by Insider said they were fearful of being evicted by Amazon, they agreed Amazon has deep enough pockets to be able to resettle them.

“If Amazon wants to get rid of these houses, Amazon has the money to relocate these people,” Trinidad Adel Calles Zazueta, a passerby near the warehouse, told Insider.

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Biden administration cancels remaining Laredo, Rio Grande Valley contracts for Trump’s border wall, angering Republican lawmakers

A US Customs and Border Protection Truck parked on a dirt patch next to the Rio Grande in Laredo, Texas
A Border Patrol vehicle near the Rio Grande in Laredo, Texas.

  • The Biden administration on Friday canceled contracts for border wall construction in Texas.
  • The cancelled contracts were in the Rio Grande Valley and Laredo areas.
  • The move “isn’t going to solve the Biden Border Crisis,” Sen. Tom Cotton said.

The Department of Homeland Security on Friday said it would cancel the remaining construction contracts for former President Donald Trump’s border wall.

The contracts related to two sections of the US-Mexico border in Texas: Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley area, the DHS said in a press release.

The move came months after the Biden administration cancelled two contracts that spanned about 31 miles of the US-Mexico border in Texas.

DHS said it planned to begin environmental studies for border barrier “system projects.” However, those “activities will not involve any construction of new border barrier or permanent land acquisition,” it said.

The construction of barriers along the southern US border has become a highly partisan issue. President Donald Trump sought to build a “big, beautiful wall,” but others raised questions about whether barriers would solve the problems that drove asylum-seekers to the US in the first place.

Friday’s move by the Biden administration raised the ire of a handful of Republican lawmakers, including Rep. Dan Crenshaw, of Texas.

“Impeach Mayorkas,” Crenshaw said on Twitter, referring to Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of homeland security.

“Canceling construction of the border wall isn’t going to solve the Biden Border Crisis,” Sen. Tom Cotton, of Arkansas, said on Twitter.

Earth Justice, an environmental nonprofit that had sued the Trump administration over the wall, on Friday said canceling the projects would save “71 river miles in Webb and Zapata counties from destruction.” The group said the projects would have cost more than $1 billion.

In June, the White House returned $2 billion from border wall projects to the military. Trump’s administration had diverted those funds.

“Building a massive wall that spans the entire southern border and costs American taxpayers billions of dollars is not a serious policy solution or responsible use of federal funds,” The White House Office of Management and Budget said at the time.

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Frontier Airlines announced 12 new routes with a focus on Cancun and Tampa – see the full list

Frontier Airlines Airbus A321
A Frontier Airlines Airbus A321

  • Frontier announced 12 new routes in its latest network expansion, focusing on Mexico and Florida.
  • Cancun will get six new routes beginning in December and Tampa will get five beginning in November.
  • The airline will offer introductory fares starting at $39 one-way to Tampa and $89 one-way to Cancun.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Frontier Airlines announced 12 new routes on Wednesday and it’s honing in on Mexico and Florida, just in time for the winter travel season.

Frontier is targeting Cancun, Mexico, and Tampa, Florida in its latest network expansion, with service scheduled to start on November 30. Five nonstop routes will operate to Tampa International Airport, six to Cancun International Airport, and the last of the 12 will connect Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Punta Cana International Airport in the Dominican Republic.

Frontier made Tampa a crew base in May 2021 and intends to establish Atlanta as a base later this year, according to the airline. The carrier said nearly 400 pilots and flight attendants would be based in Tampa and that the opening of both bases will give it the opportunity to increase its domestic and international operations out of the growing markets.

With business travel lagging, a bulk of the pandemic rebound has come from tourists heading to leisure destinations, and Frontier’s focus on Cancun and Tampa banks on traveler demand for beach vacations.

“We’re excited to grow in our newest base city, Tampa, with five new nonstop routes beginning right in time for the winter travel season. Tampa continues to shine, literally and figuratively, as a destination people want to visit, especially in the winter months,” said Daniel Shurtz, Frontier’s senior vice president of commercial.

However, after a strong summer season, some airlines say end-of-year bookings are down due to the continued threat of the Delta variant, which is causing travelers to postpone or cancel plans. Andrew Nocella, United Airlines’ chief marketing officer, said during an investor conference in early September that he anticipates travel to slump in October, November, and between Thanksgiving and Christmas, reported USA Today.

Nevertheless, data released by Expedia on Wednesday revealed the top trending winter destinations for this holiday season, and Cancun was number two for Christmas, which is right when Frontier is launching its new routes. Also on the list was Punta Cana at number five and the Sarasota area, which is just south of Tampa, at number 10.

Here’s a closer look at Frontier’s 12 new routes.

Between Tampa and Rochester, New York

Rochester
Rochester, New York

Frontier will fly thrice-weekly to Rochester on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays beginning November 30. The route will see competition from Southwest Airlines, which is scheduled to begin Saturday-only service between the two cities from mid-December. One-way introductory fares start at $49.

Between Tampa and New York City

Buildings in Manhattan as seen from the tall One Vanderbilt building against a blue sky.
New York City, New York

Frontier will fly twice-weekly to New York’s LaGuardia Airport on Mondays and Wednesdays beginning December 1. The airline will compete with a number of airlines, including JetBlue, Delta, Spirit, and Southwest. One-way introductory fares start at $39.

Between Tampa and Bloomington, Illinois

Bloomington Illinois
Bloomington, Illinois

Frontier will fly twice-weekly to Bloomington on Mondays and Fridays beginning December 17. The carrier will offer the only nonstop service between the two cities, meaning no direct competition. However, Allegiant operates a route to Bloomington from nearby St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, which is only 20 minutes from Tampa. One-way introductory fares start at $49.

Between Tampa and Green Bay, Wisconsin

Green Bay Wisconsin
Green Bay, Wisconsin

Frontier will fly twice-weekly to Green Bay on Thursdays and Sundays beginning December 16. The airline will not face direct competition on the route, however, Allegiant operates nonstop service between the secondary cities of St. Petersburg in Florida, which is 20 minutes from Tampa, and Appleton in Wisconsin, which is 40 minutes from Green Bay. One-way introductory fares at $49.

Tampa to Columbus, Ohio

Columbus ohio
Columbus, Ohio

Frontier will fly twice-weekly to Columbus on Mondays and Wednesdays beginning December 17. The carrier will see competition from Spirit, Southwest, and newcomer Breeze Airways, which just launched operations in May. Moreover, Allegiant operates a route from nearby St. Pete-Clearwater to Columbus’ secondary airport, Rickenbacker International Airport, which is 25 minutes away from Columbus’ primary airport where Frontier flies. One-way introductory fares start at $49.

Between Boston and Cancun

boston skyline
Boston, Massachusettes

Frontier will fly five-times-weekly from Boston to Cancun on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays beginning December 16. The route will face competition from JetBlue, Delta, and American, which offers Saturday-only service. One-way introductory fares start at $89.

Between Minneapolis and Cancun

Minneapolis Skyline
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Frontier will fly five-times-weekly from Minneapolis to Cancun on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays beginning December 16. The airline will compete with Delta and Sun Country on the route. One-way introductory fares start at $89.

Between Baltimore and Cancun

Baltimore city skyline
Baltimore, Maryland

Frontier will fly thrice-weekly from Baltimore to Cancun on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays beginning December 17. The route will see competition from Spirit and Southwest. One-way introductory fares start at $89.

Between Detroit and Cancun

Detroit skyline
Detroit, Michigan

Frontier will fly twice-weekly from Detroit to Cancun on Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning December 16. Delta and Spirit will be direct competitors on this route. One-way introductory fares start at $89.

Between Columbus, Ohio and Cancun

Cancun, Mexico
Cancun, Mexico

Frontier will fly twice-weekly from Columbus to Cancun on Mondays and Fridays beginning January 21. The airline will face Saturday-only competition from American and Southwest. One-way introductory fares start at $89.

Between Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina and Cancun

Raleigh, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina

Frontier will fly once weekly from Raleigh-Durham to Cancun on Saturdays beginning January 22. American and JetBlue will be competitors on the route. One-way introductory fares start at $89.

Between Atlanta and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Frontier will fly once weekly from Atlanta to Punta Cana on Saturdays beginning December 18. The carrier will compete with Delta on the route. One-way introductory fares start at $99.

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Actress Jessica Joan was part of the NXIVM cult. Then, she helped expose it.

Actress Jessica Joan meditates atop a mountain. Joan has published, “The Untouchable Jessica Joan : A Real Life Journey Of Love, Forgiveness And Evolution From The Jane Doe Who Helped Bring The NXIVM Cult To Justice,” about her life in the NXIVM sex cult
Actress Jessica Joan has released a book about her time in the NVIVM sex cult.

  • Actress Jessica Joan has written a book about her life inside the NXIVM sex cult.
  • The model, once part of NXIVM’s secret “DOS” group, later helped bring down leader, Keith Raniere.
  • “The Untouchable Jessica Joan: A Real Life Journey Of Love, Forgiveness And Evolution From The Jane Doe Who Helped Bring The NXIVM Cult To Justice” is out now.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

For nearly four years, the actress Jessica Joan has stayed silent about her involvement with the NXIVM cult and her work to help dismantle it prosecute its leaders.

Even when she started talking to the FBI, she kept her identity private. In court documents, she was known as “Jay.”

Now, in a new book, “The Untouchable Jessica Joan,” she writes about what led her to join NXIVM and how she was able to escape. In an interview with Insider, she talked about her own healing and finding the courage to speak up.

“For me, sharing my traumas is a type of way to overcome them. I want to show the world you can come out smiling,” Joan said. “You can come out winning and take down the bad guy.”

It all began when Joan was working as an actress in Los Angeles and growing tired of the shallow nature of the Hollywood scene. She wanted more, she said. Something more meaningful.

One of her best friends told her about a course that was becoming popular in their circle. It was called ESP, which stood for Executive Success Program, and it was was part of an organization called NXIVM. Joan ended up at a presentation where ESP coaches talked about helping people reach their highest human potential.

NXIVM was really skilled at marketing- they attracted good looking and successful people, like Allison Mack of “Smallville” and Kristin Kr euk of “Beauty and the Beast.”

That’s when Joan thought, “What’s the worst that can happen? What if this is something that can really help me?”

She paid around $3,000 to enroll in an intensive ESP program.

The author as a child.
Actress Jessica Joan has released a book about her time in the NVIVM sex cult.

When Keith Raniere co-founded NXIVM in 1998, it was marketed as an “Executive Success Program” for personal and professional growth. It hosted development seminars and had different subgroups, including “The Source” for artists and performers, “Society of Protectors” for men, and “Jness” for women.

But behind the scenes, they were also recruiting for a secret sorority called DOS, or The Vow, which was run by Mack and where members were coerced and blackmailed into being sex slaves.

After The New York Times published an expose in 2017, more of NXIVM’s victims began speaking out. The next year, Raniere and Mack arrested in Mexico. Raniere is now serving 120 years in prison for sex trafficking, racketeering, fraud and conspiracy charges. Mack, who cooperated with prosecutors, got a three-year sentence.

Actress Jessica Joan holds a handgun. She's written a book about her time in the NXIVM sex cult.
Actress Jessica Joan has released a book about her time in the NVIVM sex cult.

But before discovering NXIVM’s dark underbelly, Joan, who has spoken before about enduring a traumatic childhood, saw the group as a positive force in her life.

“It was something full of light. It was people who had gone through traumatic experiences that wanted to heal themselves and also wanted to help other people heal and help humanity,” she said.

After three years with ESP, its members had become her “best friends and some of the closest people in my life.”

It was then that she was invited to join DOS, which Mack insisted was a women’s empowerment initiative.

Joan would have a “master” and even a “grandmaster” – Mack. But it still seemed innocent enough, “like how in karate, you have your ‘master” and in yoga, you have your ‘guru,'” she was told.

From there, it only got weirder. Members were required to send collateral – anything from pictures, secrets, or anything that could be damaging to their friends or family – in order to remain part of The Vow. They were also forced to count and limit their calorie intake, and report everything they did to their “master.”

Privately, though, Joan had her own collateral: she kept pictures of everything she turned over. “I had all this collateral and evidence saved in case anything happened,” she said.

Actress Jessica Joan poses on a beach.
Actress Jessica Joan has released a book about her time in the NVIVM sex cult.

A Lucky Escape

As part of an initiation, members were required to attend a “special” ceremony where Raniere and Mack’s initials would be branded on their pelvic area.

But Joan wasn’t able to attend the ceremony because, she told the group, she had to travel home to see her sick grandmother. This earned her a hostile reception, she said. In the end, Joan says, she was never branded, and she never had sex with Raniere.

“If I had gone through with the ceremony, I know I wouldn’t be able to stand here in front of you today,” Joan said. “And to think I’m one of the lucky ones, I don’t have to walk around with a permanent brand on my pelvic region.”

When she did leave, she began talking to the FBI. She spent the next three years working as a model and waitress all while flying back and forth from Los Angeles to New York to give information to the authorities about NXIVM. She would eventually serve as a key witness at Raniere’s trial.

“I felt like I was on a mission,” she said. “Because, I didn’t have to testify. I didn’t have to do any of these things and risk so much.”

Actress Jessica Joan has written a book about her experience in the NXIVM sex cult
Actress Jessica Joan has released a book about her time in the NVIVM sex cult.

This summer, Joan spent the last of her unemployment check to attend Mack’s June 30 sentencing. But she said she was surprised and angered at what she saw as a too-lenient sentence of three years in jail for sex trafficking.

Still, she doesn’t regret her cooperation with the authorities and says that, having found her mission and taken the time to heal, she wants to use her story to empower others.

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Women in Texas will take back control of their reproductive healthcare by leaving the state or going to Mexico to have abortions, say rights advocates

Texas abortion
  • Women who have migrated from Mexico to Texas will have to choose whether to turn back to access abortion care.
  • American women are also migrating across the country to manage their pregnancies how they choose to.
  • Salesforce said it would help employees relocate if they had concerns about access to reproductive healthcare.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Mexican immigrants to Texas are considering returning to their home country to terminate their pregnancies to avoid the new Texas abortion laws, say reports.

Mexico decriminalized abortion on September 7th, just six days after the strict Texas “heartbeat bill” came into practice banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

Gretchen Kuhner, who offers legal representation to migrants and victims of gender violence as a part of Mexico’s Migration Institute for Women (IMUMI), spoke to The Times to explain the difficult choices now confronting the women it helps.

“[One woman that we support] has two children already and wants an abortion. There was a small window for her to find help – that’s now closed. The mother faces a devastating decision to turn back and forego her asylum application or have the baby,” she said.

Abortion clinics in Mexico are already preparing to receive women from across the border after the state’s Republican-controlled legislature passed the first so-called heartbeat bill on September 1, The Times reported.

American women are also crossing the borders of states to access abortions elsewhere in the country. Joan Lamunyon Sanford, executive director of the New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, an Albuquerque-based abortion, told NBC.

“Every time Texas passes some kind of bill restricting abortion, we see more people seeking care here in New Mexico,” she said.

For example, the number of Texans getting abortions in Planned Parenthood clinics in the Rocky Mountain region, covering Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, and southern Nevada, was 12 times higher when Gov. Greg Abbott banned abortions in March 2020 for almost a month under a COVID-19 executive order, AP report.

Some may also leave the state permanently. In a Friday slack message obtained by CNBC, Salesforce, the cloud computing company, said it would assist any employees and their families who are looking to relocate over their state’s reproductive laws.

“These are incredibly personal issues that directly impact many of us – especially women,” the message said, without taking a stance on the law. “We recognize and respect that we all have deeply held and different perspectives. As a company, we stand with all of our women at Salesforce and everywhere.”

“With that being said, if you have concerns about access to reproductive healthcare in your state, Salesforce will help relocate you and members of your immediate family,” it continued.

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Mexico’s most dangerous job is only getting more deadly, and I’ve seen up close how bad it’s getting

Border wall sign protesting violence against journalists in Mexico
A painting reading “140 journalists murdered in MX” on a section of US-Mexico border fence in Tijuana in Baja California, Mexico, May 14, 2018.

  • Mexico has for some time been the deadliest country for journalists outside of active war zones.
  • Attacks on Mexican journalists are often linked to their work on the nexus of politics and crime.
  • The trend is only getting worse, and its one that journalist Luis Chaparro has seen first-hand.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Mexico City – In 2017 I published a story detailing how former Chihuahua’s state governor Cesar Duarte bought several properties in Texas while he was in office.

Duarte was accused of diverting about $320 million in government funds in 2016. By the time the story was published, he was on the run and wanted by Interpol.

I have never received a more direct threat for my work than the one I received after publishing that story.

There is no country more deadly for journalists than Mexico, and year after year it is only getting worse. This is in part because of rising violence in Mexico related to organized crime, but corrupt politicians are often to blame.

Jan-Albert Hootsen, the Mexico representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said violence against journalists in Mexico is made worse by deepening ties between criminal organizations and politicians.

Mexico Miroslava Breach Javier Valdez journalist killing protest
Candles burn in front of pictures of slain journalists Miroslava Breach, left, and Javier Valdez during a demonstration against the killing of journalists, outside the Interior Ministry in Mexico City, May 16, 2017.

“The most dangerous situation for journalists is when they touch in any way the interests at the crossing of organized crime and politics,” Hootsen told Insider.

The week after the story about Duarte made it to the front page of renown Mexican investigative magazine Proceso, a car was parked in front of my house in Ciudad Juarez for a full week. Inside, a man sat, night and day, with a revolver on his lap.

I didn’t think he was actually there to harm me – otherwise he would have – but it was a demonstration of how easy it was for them to get to anyone in their way.

I notified the Committee to Protect Journalists at the time, and what happened “is a perfect example of the dangers for journalists when covering politics and crime,” Hootsen said.

That same year, Miroslava Breach, an editor for a local newspaper in Ciudad Juarez and correspondent for the national daily La Jornada, was shot dead outside her house in Chihuahua City while taking her child to school.

Later investigations found that she was murdered for revealing how the Juarez cartel was appointing mayors in several municipalities in Chihuahua.

A former mayor was arrested and sentenced to eight years behind bars for ordering Breach’s murder. Despite justice being done in that case, violence against journalists has only continued.

Protest against violence against journalists in Mexico
Friends of Mexican journalist Jacinto Romero Flores at a protest in demand of justice for his murder, in Orizaba in Veracruz, Mexico, August 19, 2021.

This year alone, six journalists have been murdered throughout Mexico.

The latest was Jacinto Romero Flores, a reporter from the southeastern state of Veracruz, who covered politics for a radio station in the municipality of Zongolica. Flores was shot several times and killed while driving his car.

According to local press reports, Romero Flores received several threats on his phone after airing a story about police abuse against residents of the Texahuacan municipality.

Few weeks before the assassination of Romero Flores, ruthless crime group Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación publicly threatened a well-known television news anchor, Azucena Uresti, for her coverage of that organization.

In a video posted on social media by alleged members of the cartel, a man who identified himself as Ruben Oseguera, the head of the cartel, made a direct against Uresti.

“Wherever you are, I will find you and I will make you eat your words even if I’m accused of femicide,” the man identified as Oseguera is heard saying as at least six men armed with assault riffles stand around him.

Mexico has been the deadliest country for journalists, outside of those at war, for some time.

Protest against violence against journalists in Mexico
A woman at a protest against of the killing of journalists in Mexico, in Mexico City, March 25, 2017.

Since Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared the war on drugs in 2006, the number of journalists murdered and disappeared in Mexico have risen steadily, according to figures collected by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

2019 is the deadliest year on record, with 11 journalists slain. At least nine journalists were killed with firearms in 2020.

To date, almost 50% of those murders have no known motive or, if the perpetrators are known or suspected, there has been no sentence. (Duarte was arrested in Miami in 2020 on corruption charges.)

“We have to recognize that it is hard to know exactly where is the line of politics and narcos when it comes to the motives of these murders,” said Hootsen. “Mexico has lost much of its rule of law, and the present administration is not doing a good job, if any, to support mechanisms to protect journalists.”

Mexico has procedures that are meant to protect journalists. Most of them involve the state sending a state or municipal police officer to monitor a journalist’s safety for 24 hours.

The Mexican government said in July that it had increased the number of journalists in its protection program by 80% since December 2018. In many cases, however, government protection has not stopped hitmen from killing their target.

“In many cases threats have been reported previously and those journalists have been incorporated to a state protection system and even then they have ended up murdered,” Hootsen said.

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Photos of a new, sprawling Amazon warehouse in Mexico surrounded by deteriorating shacks have gone viral as the tech giant continues to expand its footprint internationally

amazon tijuana warehouse
  • Viral photos show a massive new Amazon facility in Mexico surrounded by decrepit homes.
  • Amazon said it will create 250 jobs, but research shows new centers don’t always boost overall employment.
  • Amazon began its push into the Mexican market in 2015 to compete with Walmart in the e-commerce race.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A sprawling, new Amazon fulfillment center in Tijuana, Mexico, is surrounded by deteriorating low-income housing units as the tech giant continues its push into the foreign market.

Photos of the new warehouse were captured by photographer Omar Martinez and show a stark contrast between Amazon’s crisp, white facility and the crumbling shacks around it. They were shared widely and discussed on Reddit and Twitter.

Martinez shared the exact location of the warehouse with Insider – it sits about three miles south of the US-Mexico border.

Amazon spokesperson Marisa Vano confirmed to Insider that “the upcoming opening of our Fulfillment Center in Tijuana” will create “more than 250 jobs in the area.”

amazon tijuana warehouse

Pay at Amazon’s US warehouses starts at $15 an hour, and the company regularly touts what it says are competitive health insurance and retirement benefits at its centers, such as at the Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse where employees voted not to unionize earlier this year.

But for some areas with new warehouses – such as in Davenport, Illinois – economists say that Amazon’s competitive wages may force local retailers to match that pay, which could lower employment rates since it limits how many people they can employ, according to the Quad-City Times. The economists also said that jobs need to be high-paying for communities to see long-term economic growth.

And a report from the Economic Policy Institute in 2018 found that while there’s a 30% increase in jobs, there isn’t always an overall increase in employment in areas where a new Amazon warehouse goes up. The report suggests “that some sort of employment displacement is taking place, or that the growth in warehousing jobs is too limited to spill over into broad-based employment gains for the overall local economy.”

amazon warehouse tijuana mexico

The Economist similarly found that Amazon often pays its fulfillment center workers less than other employers do.

Amazon waded into the Mexican marketplace in 2015, a move that would help the company compete with fellow e-commerce giant Walmart. Amazon now has five fulfillment centers in the country, and Vano told Insider that the company has since created 15,000 jobs throughout Mexico.

Amazon announced last year that it was spending $100 million on new warehouses in Mexico to improve delivery speeds. Two fulfillment centers will go up in Monterrey and in Guadalajara, which are two of the largest metro areas in Mexico, and the company will have at least 27 delivery stations scattered across the country.

Mexico state Governor Alfredo Del Mazo Maza said Amazon’s expansion will help counteract pandemic-driven economic fallout in the country, according to Mexico News Daily.

“Amazon has become one of the principal allies and a strategic partner in the economic recovery and the fulfillment of objectives that have been laid out by the current administration to improve the level of well-being of Mexican families,” the governor said.

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Skip Cabo and Cancun – Puerto Vallarta has a lush coast, beautiful beaches, and these 10 standout hotels

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The best hotels in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

  • Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexico’s top cities for stunning beaches and incredible tequila tastings.
  • We found the best Puerto Vallarta hotels from all-inclusive resorts to historic boutique hotels.
  • Visit Puerto Vallarta in the fall for nightly rates that start between $87 to $405.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Cabo and Tulum might receive most of the attention from travelers to Mexico, but travel a bit further and delight in the state of Jalisco, where stunning Puerto Vallarta overlooks beautiful Banderas Bay.

Jalisco is also the only region in Mexico where tequila is made (agave harvested and fermented from anywhere else is considered mezcal) and no visit to Puerto Vallarta is complete without a few tastings. Between sips, visit the Zona Romántica filled with bars, dining, and shops; or walk along the Malecon boardwalk for waterfront art and street performances. On a boat ride to the Marietas Islands, you’ll discover a sea cave you can swim through in order to access a hidden beach.

The LGBTQ-friendly destination also has a breadth of beautiful hotels ranging from pure luxury to affordable accommodations that don’t skimp on comfort. The following list celebrates all that this special destination has to offer.

Browse the best Puerto Vallarta hotels below, or jump directly to a specific area here:

These are the best hotels in Puerto Vallarta, sorted by price from low to high.

Almar Resort Luxury LGBT Beachfront Experience

The pool and beach club at Almar Resort.
A popular and lively dayclub directly faces the beach.

Book Almar Resort Luxury LGBT Beachfront Experience

Puerto Vallarta — and specifically the Zona Romántica — is considered to be the most LGBTQ-friendly place in Mexico. Set in the heart of the neighborhood is the all-suite Almar Resort with 82 spacious rooms that feature modern interiors, spa-like bathrooms, elegant vanities, and deep hydro baths either inside the bedroom or out on a private terrace.

The hotel attracts a party crowd thanks to the entertainment found on-site at the popular Mantamar Beach Club, a destination for lounging under turquoise umbrellas or dancing in the infinity pool while DJs spin live sets.

A rooftop pool lined with Balinese daybeds runs parallel to the beach offering elevated views of the dayclub below, and the Top Sky Bar is another popular place for sipping mojitos with views of the ocean during drag performances at sunset.

Between pool parties and rooftop hangs, hit the gym or book a spa treatment.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Grand Miramar Resort

Grand Miramar
Vibrant bougainvillea blooms spill over balconies and terraces facing the ocean.

Book Grand Miramar Resort

You’re likely to wonder if you’re in Mexico or the Amalfi Coast after checking into the Grand Miramar hotel, with its bougainvillea blooms that spill over the edges of ocean-facing private balconies. Carved into a mountainside, the AAA Four-Diamond hotel boasts panoramic views of Banderas Bay from the highest point in Puerto Vallarta. The hotel is so stunning that it’s also the perfect setting to get engaged — in fact, during my recent stay here, it’s where my fiancé popped the question. 

Start the day with a breakfast buffet at Cielito Lindo restaurant, followed by lounging in one of four pools, including a rooftop infinity-edge pool with in-water chaise lounges. You can retreat from the heat at the spa, where treatments are prefaced with a visit to the hydrotherapy circuit that includes a steam room, sauna, and ocean-facing Jacuzzi.

Dinner reservations at Eugenia Restaurant on the rooftop are a must as the sun is setting over the bay. Afterward, take a bottle of wine down to your west-facing balcony, which is attached to a suite with a modern-Mexican flair that includes kitchenettes, cozy lounges, and spa-like bathrooms with soaking tubs, dual sinks, and walk-in showers. 

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta

The exterior and pool of Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta
Rooms feature ocean views and overlook a lagoon-style pool or the beach.

Book Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta

There are 15 Fiesta Americana resorts throughout Mexico and the Dominican Republic, but this Puerto Vallarta outpost is the crown jewel of the collection. It’s a classic choice, especially if your objective is to spend your vacation relaxing in the sun without ever leaving the hotel.

The resort is located in the Hotel Zone where plenty of big-box chain hotels can be found, but the Fiesta Americana stands out for its authentic Mexican architecture that adds to the all-inclusive resort’s overall charm.

There are nearly 300 guest rooms with private balconies or terraces boasting breathtaking ocean views and cool marble floors that help counteract the humidity. If you’re willing to splurge, book the presidential suite for $1,000 per night and enjoy your own expansive terrace with a pergola-covered dining area and a private Jacuzzi that overlooks the beach. 

The Fiesta Kids Club keeps little ones busy and parents can lounge at the adults-only rooftop SONNE Beach Club with an infinity pool. The Nakawè Spa offers a relaxing hydrotherapy circuit. In the evening, come together over dinner at La Cevichería, where seafood is the star of the menu.  

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel

Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel
This adults-only resort is the kind of place where you can order swim-up drinks and recline in a Balinese lounger all day.

Book Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel

The ocean-adjacent, adults-only Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel is an ideal escape if you’re envisioning yourself ordering a margarita at a swim-up bar or reclining in a Balinese day bed on the beach.

Your pampering stay begins with a 5-minute welcome massage and a personal butler who allows you to select pillow preferences and scents from an aromatherapy menu. Rooms come with earthy, coastal decor, tropical wood accents, and white and blue hues.

The on-site restaurants serve upscale Mexican cuisine in alfresco settings, and if you’re part of a small group or traveling with a significant other, you can book a private dining experience at the jetty right on the water. The Zona Romántica is also a walkable area just beyond the property with plenty of dining options and nightlife.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Garza Blanca Preserve Resort and Spa Puerto Vallarta

The pool and beach at Garza Blanca Preserve Resort Puerto Vallarta.
Water sports like kayaking, paddle boarding, and snorkeling are all included in the rate.

Book Garza Blanca Preserve Resort and Spa Puerto Vallarta

With 85 acres of jungle on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other, the Garza Blanca Resort and Spa feels picturesque, lush, and exceedingly tropical.

Guest rooms are equally impressive. Even the smallest accommodations have walk-in closets, TOTO bidet toilets, and private terraces with hammocks to recline in while listening to the waves crash on the beach below. 

Fill your days lounging at a lagoon-shaped, ocean-facing pool that snakes across the coast or with treatments at the luxury spa. The hotel also puts on daily activities like yoga, tequila tastings, paddleboard lessons, and more.

All-inclusive packages are optional but offer strong value with unlimited dining at three on-site restaurants including BocaDos Steak House, where steaks and seafood are served in a torch-lit, coastal-side atmosphere.  

While the property isn’t close to the Zona Romantica, you can hop on a trolley that will take you up into the mountain to the TierraLuna Village, a brand new space where you can shop for locally crafted jewelry and handmade ceramics, or grab a ride on the merry-go-round.   

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Sunset Plaza Beach Resort

The exterior of Sunset Plaza Beach Resort
Spacious suites come with all-inclusive packages and personalized butler service.

Book Sunset Plaza Beach Resort

A short drive from the airport, this hotel is all about convenience and relaxation, starting with a complimentary massage. 

The AAA Four-Diamond resort’s all-inclusive program makes dining uncomplicated with five on-site restaurants to choose from serving dishes from Italy, Spain, and of course, Mexico. There is a large beachside infinity pool as well as a rooftop, lagoon-shaped pool for adults only. 

Spacious suites feature spa-like baths, jetted tubs, private terraces, kitchenettes, and 24/7 personalized butler service that can help with anything from surprising your partner with a romantic dinner on the beach to arranging Kid’s Club activities.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Casa Kimberly

A bathroom in Casa Kimberly in Puerto Vallarta
This hotel was once a private home belonging to Elizabeth Taylor.

Book Casa Kimberly

Richard Burton gifted Casa Kimberly to Elizabeth Taylor for her 32nd birthday in 1964 as a ploy to keep her in Puerto Vallarta while he filmed the movie “The Night of the Iguana.” The couple lived in two separate homes that were connected by the “Puente del Amor” (Love Bridge). 

Now, the legendary home has been reinvented as a hotel bearing the same name and has just nine rooms, including the Elizabeth Taylor suite with a private elevator entrance, a wrap-around terrace with a private pool and Jacuzzi, and a pink marble bathroom with a heart-shaped tub that Taylor personally commissioned.

No matter your room choice, you’ll be treated to Bulgari toiletries and daily continental breakfast delivered to your suite that will make you feel as important as a Hollywood A-lister. 

Even if you don’t stay here, don’t miss dinner at The Iguana Restaurant & Tequila Bar, which is especially glamorous as the golden hour sun trickles into an open-air courtyard overlooking the Sierra Madre mountains. 

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Velas Vallarta

The gardens and pools at Velas Vallarta.
This lush resort spans 10 acres along the beach.

Book Velas Vallarta

Spanning 10 acres along the beach and with its 18-hole Marina Vallarta Golf Course and an on-site marina, Velas Vallarta Resort is a great choice for outdoor enthusiasts.

There are 345 guest rooms done up in Mexican motifs with locally inspired art that range from an entry-level Deluxe Studio to the Three-Bedroom Family Suite, which can fit up to seven adults and two kids. For a truly lavish stay, book a room with its own private plunge pool.

The hotel also has an oceanfront lagoon-style pool and all-inclusive packages that make it all too easy to fill up on unlimited guacamole and ice cream. Restaurants cover Mexican, Spanish, Italian, French and Asian cuisines, and on Sundays, guests are invited to a fiesta with a mariachi band and folk dance performances.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Hacienda San Angel

Hacienda San Angel
The late Richard Burton purchased the Hacienda San Angel for his second wife, a decade after purchasing a home a block away for ex-wife Elizabeth Taylor.

Book Hacienda San Angel

In 1977, as a gift for his wife Susan Hunt, the late Richard Burton purchased the Hacienda San Angel. Yes, just like he did for his ex-wife, Elizabeth Taylor, more than a decade before. This one is just a few blocks from Casa Kimberly.

Accessed via a cobblestone street, the boutique hotel is an elegant display of Mexican colonial architecture paired with vintage furnishings. Peppered throughout the property are three stylish pools and 12 villa suites that come with clawfoot bathtubs and art from the 1700s and 1800s.  

A central courtyard with a living wall surrounds a serene water fountain, while a rooftop restaurant overlooks the Sierra Madre mountains, offering a whole new perspective of the old town’s terracotta rooftops. 

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Casa Velas

The beach club at casa velas
Casa Velas is among our top picks for luxury hotels in Puerto Vallarta.

Book Casa Velas 

Casa Velas is a luxury resort with a boutique-hotel vibe and all of the perks of an all-inclusive property. While the hotel is not located directly on the beach, complimentary transportation to and from Táu Beach Club is provided where you can kick back in a daybed and sip cocktails at the ocean’s edge.

On the hotel’s grounds, you’ll find the AAA Four-Diamond Emiliano Restaurant, the posh Aqua Bar, and two 18-hole golf courses designed by pros Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf.

An adults-only property, the mood is refined, especially if you book a Wellness Suite that feels like a ritzy two-story private villa that comes with an oversized Italian marble master bath and a private pool tucked away in a garden setting. Better yet, reserve a daily complimentary in-room massage out on the terrace.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

FAQ: Puerto Vallarta hotels

Is it safe to travel to Puerto Vallarta?

Puerto Vallarta continues to welcome travelers from the United States, and the hotels included in this list follow strict protocols to ensure the safety of guests during their stays. However, it’s important to reference the most current CDC and local guidelines before booking an international flight to any destination.

When is the best time of year to visit Puerto Vallarta?

The winter months are Puerto Vallarta’s busiest season, but if you’re looking for a deal on hotels and airfare, book during the rainy season between July and October. While there are occasional thunderstorms, the weather is hot and you’ll still get a handful of sunny days.

I traveled to Puerto Vallarta in July, and while the forecast called for all-day thunderstorms, I personally experienced hot and sunny days with an occasional evening shower, during which I could watch distant lightning illuminate the sky above the ocean while I sat out on my private balcony.

Should I stay in an all-inclusive hotel in Puerto Vallarta?

Decide if an all-inclusive hotel is right for your stay in Puerto Vallarta by being clear on your priorities during the trip. If you’re planning on hanging out by the pool or beach for the majority of your vacation, an all-inclusive program might be a smart decision so you can eat and drink at your leisure without racking up a giant bill at the end.

However, if you plan on exploring the city and spending a lot of time off of the hotel property, you won’t be able to take advantage of the all-inclusive perks. 

How much does a hotel cost in Puerto Vallarta?

Hotels can range from less than $100 to upwards of $800 per night, depending on the type of property you choose and the time of year when you visit. The list we’ve put together here reflects a wide range with rates that start between $87 to $405 per night. All-inclusive packages will be more expensive, but will add value.

What is the best hotel in Puerto Vallarta?

The best hotel in Puerto Vallarta is subjective based on the type of stay you desire, whether that’s a small and intimate local vibe or over-the-top luxury. However, the list of properties compiled here includes some of the best accommodations in the city, regardless of your personal taste. From mountainside boutique hotels to beachfront all-inclusive resorts, any of these hotels will meet your expectations for a trip to Puerto Vallarta.

Which hotel has the best beach in Puerto Vallarta?   

Playa de los Muertos is the most well-known beach in Puerto Vallarta, which extends along the coast in the Zona Romantica. It’s also where you’ll find the iconic Los Muertos Pier that leads to a curved structure that looks like a sail and lights up at night. 

However, if you are searching for a secluded beachfront resort, Garza Blanca has a pristine beach and includes complimentary activities for hotel guests, like kayaking, snorkeling, and paddleboarding. 

Which hotels have the best pools in Puerto Vallarta?

Beachfront lagoon-style, Roman-shaped, swim-up bar, and rooftop infinity-edge pools all abound in Puerto Vallarta. The hotels with the most impressive pools include The Grand Miramar, Fiesta Americana, Almar Resort, and the Velas Vallarta.

How we selected the best hotels in Puerto Vallarta

  1. Hotels offer top-tier amenities and experiences, such as spas, oceanfront pools, large guest rooms, private balconies, complimentary breakfasts, and all-inclusive offerings.
  2. Hotels are in close proximity to the beach.
  3. Hotel accommodations range from inexpensive to luxurious and provide a nightly range for every budget. During the rainy season from July through October, rates start between $87 to $405 per night. 
  4. Each property has high ratings from TripAdvisor and Booking.com and a wealth of recent positive reviews that back up our research.
  5. Each property follows strict COVID-19 cleaning and safety protocols, which are linked. 

More of the best hotels in Mexico

The best hotels in Tulum
The beach in Tulum is known for soft white sand and gorgeous blue water.

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The ongoing US-Mexico border closure is smothering local businesses in this Texas city: ‘What was once a thriving street is now a ghost town’

Woman gets a tattoo at a tattoo shop
Before the pandemic, people used to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in Golden Goose Tattoo as they waited for tattoos. Now, it’s quiet.

  • Restrictions barring non-essential travel from Mexico have gutted foot traffic and sales for American businesses.
  • Business streets look like ghost towns in the border city of El Paso.
  • Business owners yearn for Mexican customers, but no one knows when the border closure will end.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The only sounds in the tattoo studio are rock music and the buzzing of two tattoo machines. In the 71-year-old pawn shop across the street, it’s silent except for the humming air conditioner and a telenovela playing in the background.

For the most part, an empty quiet fills El Paso’s downtown and keeps local businesses in a stranglehold. As a ban on non-essential travel from Mexico drags on into its 16th month, businesses in the border city have seen cash flows shrivel and have struggled to stay alive after up to half their customers vanished.

The US government first banned non-essential travel from Mexico to curb the spread of COVID-19 in April 2020, and has extended the restrictions every month since then.

“What was once a thriving street is now a ghost town,” Jon Barela, CEO of the economic development organization Borderplex Alliance, told Insider. He noted that up to 30% of retail sales in this area were made to Mexicans before the border closure. “It’s had a devastating impact on many of those small businesses in our region.”

In Dave’s Loan Co, a cramped pawn shop in one of the oldest buildings in town, the owner has met disintegrating foot traffic and a dwindling loan balance with somber resignation. His parents owned the shop before him, and his grandparents bought the building when he was seven years old.

“We’ve been here 71 years. What else can I say? It’s very hard to see it like this,” Baron said. “We’ve spent our whole lives here.”

pawn shop
Dave’s Loan Co., an El Paso pawn shop well-known for its eclectic and bizarre collection of items, has struggled during the pandemic.

Though he loves the carousel of eccentric people and items that cycle through the doors, he lives off social security benefits since he can’t afford to pay himself a salary anymore.

His tiny shop is crammed floor-to-ceiling with pawned off oddities, ranging from the typical to the unsettling. What Baron says is a real mummy brought in years ago by a mysterious customer faces the cashier counter (sticker price of $15,000), and a blackened, wizened finger purported to be Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa’s trigger finger is displayed in a shadow box in the shop window.

mummy in a glass display case
Larry Baron, pawn shop owner, said an unknown man brought what he claimed was a mummy into the shop years ago. “We don’t ask questions,” Baron said.

Built in the 1870s as a horse stable, the building was allegedly frequented by Billy the Kid, Wyatt Erp, as well as the other desperados, gunslingers, and outlaws during its wild west days, Baron said. But now, the store is hemorrhaging cash, neighboring businesses are shuttering, and the downtown is filling with “for rent” signs.

“What can you do?” Baron said.

Located in a bend in the Rio Grande, El Paso’s downtown juts up against a port of entry where a trickle of cars and pedestrians pass back and forth from Ciudad Juárez, El Paso’s twin city on the other side of the border fence. The two cities’ histories and communities have been knitted together for generations – families and friends live on either side of the border; people cross to work, shop, and socialize; and roughly $72 billion worth of international trade crosses into El Paso from Juarez every year.

downtown el paso
With shuttered businesses and few people, some streets in downtown El Paso feel like ghost towns.

The closure has made in-person gatherings in the US practically impossible and cut off a crucial source of revenue for many El Paso businesses. It’s unclear when the travel restrictions will lift or even what requirements would have to be met before that happens.

Tom Fullerton, an economist at the University of Texas at El Paso, estimates that local businesses lost $200 million in retail sales in 2020 due to the border restrictions.

“If the border ever re-opens, that is a lot of pent-up demand,” Fullerton said.

In August, the Department of Homeland Security extended the restrictions until September. In the meantime, other businesses have found new ways to reach Mexican customers who are barred from crossing. At a 39-year-old boutique dress shop, where girls often bought their prom and quinceañera dresses at the same place that their mothers first tried on their wedding gowns, the owner now hand-delivers wedding dresses to her clients in Mexico.

Woman in bridal boutique
Elodia Perches, owner of Bridal Novias, began hand-delivering dresses to Mexico after half her customer base was barred from entering the US.

Elodia Perches, the owner of Bridal Novias, said around half her customer base was from Mexico before the pandemic. Last year, her revenue plummeted by around 90%.

“The only reason I’m in business still is because I have a guardian angel,” she said. “I feel like, literally, we are blessed.”

Fabian Cobos, the owner of Golden Goose Tattoo, said his business was on the brink of shutting down during the pandemic. During the lockdown, he’d often jolt awake from sleep, panicked and his heart racing, wondering when his business and the world would return to normal.

It still hasn’t. His store lost around 10% of its customers because of the border closure, but he hopes a lifting of restrictions would revive foot traffic and customers that many borderland businesses rely on.

Fabian Cobos in his tattoo shop
Fabian Cobos drew his first tattoo of a flaming skull for his dad when he was 11 years old. Though he loves the art and the transformative effect of tattooing, his business has yet to fully recover.

Despite the economic impact of the border closure, public health experts are divided over how effective travel restrictions are at taming the virus’s spread.

“I don’t think keeping the border closed necessarily makes any sense since there’s already so much COVID in Texas,” Andrew Noymer, a public health professor at the University of California Irvine, said. “Travel restrictions in general worldwide is like the saying of ‘a horse has bolted from the barn’ a long time ago.”

Armando Meza, chief of infectious diseases at Texas Tech University, said achieving high immunization rates in the US and Northern Mexican states would reduce the risk of spreading the virus once the borders reopen. El Paso’s vaccination rate has hit 71%, while Ciudad Juárez lingers at around 30%, with the US promising to deliver 8.5 million vaccine doses to Mexico in the next month.

El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego said vaccine parity between the two regions should be a priority, noting that opening the border would allow areas like El Paso to set up vaccination hubs for people from Juárez and the surrounding areas, where it’s more difficult to access vaccines.

“I don’t think we can solve this issue by having the bridges closed,” he said. “We solve it by dealing with the reality of this situation.”

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