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Fronteras: Fiesta Protesta; Syrian War Refugee in SA; & A Tour Of San Antonio's Westside

On Fronteras:

  • For one day each year, the borders are erased between Lajitas and Paso Lajitas, Mexico (0:15).
  • A recent graduate from the University of Texas at San Antonio shares her story of moving to San Antonio to escape war-torn Syria (6:55).
  • We go on a tour of San Antonio’s Westside. It’s one of the poorest parts of San Antonio, but it’s rich in culture (11:30).
Credit Natalie Krebs
People cross to the Mexican side of the Rio Grande during the Voices from Both Sides festival.

Fiesta Fronteriza Blurs Borders

Every year in the tiny border town of Lajitas — located about 300 miles southeast of El Paso — hundreds gather to celebrate, remember and protest the closing of the area’s border passage. For decades, U.S. tourists and locals used to cross freely over the Rio Grande into Pasos Lajitas, Mexico.

FRONTERAS EXTRA | Voices From Both Sides

But that changed in May 2002, when the federal government abruptly closed the informal passage. The small community that Lajitas shared with its Mexican neighbor was cut in half. But the annual Voices From Both Sides serves as a reunion. Contributor Natalie Krebs reports on the one-day event that’s now in its sixth year.

Credit Camille Phillips / Texas Public Radio
Ranad Humeidi moved to San Antonio when she was in high school to escape the Syrian civil war. She found a home in the UTSA science labs.

From Syria to San Antonio: One UTSA Graduate’s Story

Ranad Humeidiis is a recent graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio and hopes to one day become a physician scientist. Like many college students, she overcame various obstacles to achieve her degree. But unlike many of her fellow classmates, Humeidi’s story begins in Aleppo, Syria. Texas Public Radio’s Camille Phillips brings us this report.

Credit Norma Martinez / Texas Public Radio
La Veladora, tile mural by Jesse Treviño. Located outside the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center on San Antonio's Westside.

Paseo Por ‘El Westside’: A Tour of San Antonio’s Hidden Cultural Gem

The Westside of San Antonio — or “El Westside,” as residents call it — is a 93 percent Hispanic, working-class neighborhood. It’s also one of the poorest in Bexar County with 41 percent of residents in the 78207 zip code living in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

But it’s also a neighborhood connected by corner stores, shotgun houses, theaters, and most importantly, its people.

The Westside became segregated and economically stifled by the interstate system in the 1960s, which effectively cut it off from nearby downtown, according to the San Antonio Office of Historic Preservation. And later urban renewal efforts led to the destruction of decades-old buildings and homes.

When a 1920s-era service station and dance hall known as La Gloria was demolished in 2002, the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center stepped up to lobby for the preservation of old, working class structures to protect the community’s culture and history.

On a chilly day in April, the Esperanza hosted a walking tour of the Westside to introduce newcomers and reintroduce former Westsiders to the neighborhood.

Norma Martinez can be reached by email norma@tpr.org and on Twitter @NormDog1

Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1