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Mexicali group protests lack of effort by U.S., Mexico

May 04, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

MEXICALI — Gabriela Caño yelled at the top of her lungs, her strong voice reverberating off the rolled-up windows of idling cars waiting to cross into the United States.

Caño and more than 20 protesters, shouting protest chants and holding signs, stood in the middle of Avenida Internacional on Thursday to call attention to what they thinks is a lack of effort by the governments of the U.S. and Mexico to stamp out border drug traffic through education.

Their group, Aprendido a Vivir, or, "Learning to Live," runs anti-drug clinics and educational programs for Mexicali youth.

The director, Alberto Becerril, said Mexican President Vicente Fox is not doing enough to help local agencies such as theirs.

He held up a worn photocopy of a resolution passed by the Mexican congress in 1995 that allocated funding for anti-drug programs.

Becerril said Fox is spending money to fight drug trafficking and cartels but not spending money to prevent the nation's youth from becoming addicted to drugs.


He said even though the money has been allocated, he hasn't seen any of it.

In recent months he has asked Imperial Valley agencies to help fund his group but the talks have not yet yielded results.

"We're trying to get together," Becerril said.

One of the protesters, Nestor Francesa, 24, of Mexicali, used to work in Calexico.

Francesa said he joined the protest Thursday because the Mexicali Learning to Live clinic helped him put his life together after it came completely undone because of drug use.

He said the federal government of both countries should help Mexicali drug programs because they would both accrue benefits.

"If there are fewer people doing drugs here there will be less people working to bring drugs over the border," Francesa said. "It's all tied together."

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419.

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