Border City

By Los Angeles Times

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Category: True Crime

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Border City is the story of a journalist who in 1994 impulsively leaves her job and family in Washington, D.C., to report on Tijuana, Mexico, a city commonly known for drug violence and illegal immigration into the U.S. She expects to stay on the border a year, maybe two. But her plans change as she is drawn deeper and deeper into the different worlds that converge at the biggest crossing point on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Episode Date
Resilience and hope
A random accident forces Sandra to slow down and embrace her life on the border. New waves of migrants arrive in Tijuana, pushed by violence, poverty, and political upheaval and fueled by dreams of reaching the United States.
May 24, 2022
Tijuana's rocky rebirth
Artists, chefs and ordinary citizens point the way to a revitalized Tijuana, even as the city faces new challenges. Sandra faces challenges too. Two deaths in her own family.
May 17, 2022
Tijuanenses fight back
Doctors in their white coats protest the violence, while some young musicians refuse to stay home, and an arts promoter opens a new gallery. Sandra feels caught between two worlds as she flies back and forth to Washington to care for her ailing mother.
May 10, 2022
Upheaval in the cartels
The Arellano cartel grows weaker as its top leaders fall, but the violence continues. Threats strike new fears in the highest echelons of law enforcement. The Tijuana opera hosts an inaugural performance. Sandra’s mother flies in from Washington, D.C. and meets Sandra’s friend Angela.
May 03, 2022
Gun battles and concerts
Sandra covers the assassination of another police chief and the arrest of a powerful drug suspect. She also sings with the Tijuana opera and invites friends from both sides of the border to a concert on a hillside looking out toward San Diego.
Apr 26, 2022
A journalist is shot
Sandra ponders the fine line that separates danger from safety in this city of contrasts. A prominent Tijuana journalist is ambushed and a family falls victim to the Arellano cartel. But she also sees another side of the city, as her friend Angela throws her a surprise birthday party.
Apr 19, 2022
Building a life
The kidnapping of a prominent maquiladora executive — and the threatening presence of the Arellano drug cartel — overshadow the city’s ambitious effort to boost its image. But like many Tijuana residents, Sandra feels little personal danger as she settles into her new life and explores the city.
Apr 12, 2022
Crime and friendship
Sandra Dibble expected to stay in Tijuana a year. Instead she found herself drawn into the worlds that intersect at this crossroads of the Americas. Journalists. Migrants. Artists. Drug gangs. Tijuana is a place where paths converge, often in unexpected ways.
Apr 05, 2022
LA Times Presents | Border City

Border City is a different kind of story about the U.S.-Mexico border, told by a reporter who has spent more than 25 years trying to understand the dynamics of Tijuana, Mexico, and its relationship to the United States.

In 1994 Sandra Dibble left a prestigious job in Washington D.C. for Tijuana, Mexico’s largest border city. A few days before she arrived, a major presidential candidate was assassinated there. She was still settling into her apartment when the city’s police chief and his bodyguard were gunned down.

In this eight-part podcast, Sandra introduces listeners to Tijuana the way she was introduced to it—through the news stories she covered but also through her personal connections in the city’s cultural community and her friendships with ordinary Tijuanenses.

When she arrives, Tijuana is Mexico’s largest and fastest growing border city, booming with migrants from across the county. Many plan to cross the border. But large numbers settle in the city, often taking low-paying jobs in the maquiladoras that manufacture goods for the U.S.

Sandra’s early guides to the city include a local journalist, an Argentinian refugee, a classical guitarist, the woman who cleans her house and becomes her friend, the people she meets when she joins the Tijuana opera chorus.

But she also begins to understand the darkness that hovers over this city, whose destiny is often shaped—for better or worse—by outside forces beyond its control: Global economic cycles. Shifts in U.S. immigration policies. The insatiable U.S. demand for illicit drugs.

Border City takes listeners with Sandra on her journey of discovery, as she chronicles the city’s evolution and searches for her own place in it. It also tells a larger story that reaches far beyond the U.S.-Mexico border---a universal story of migration and belonging and identity that touches us all.

Mar 24, 2022