141
Chapter 9
The Frontier of
Knowledge
Between Life and Death
Adriana Plasencia Diaz
Introduction
inking about the border from within the Mexican heartland does not do justice
to this regions potentialities in a global context. In reality, this area has become the
focus of great opportunities to boost regional development and to make Mexican
federalism a reality. is is because the border region epitomizes two critical con-
ceptual variablesunity and diversity, sovereignty and autonomy (Plasencia, 2010).
e purpose of this chapter is to recognize some indicators for assessing edu-
cational achievement in states situated along the northern border of the coun-
try. Determining the current educational level of the region will allow us to take
Contents
Introduction ......................................................................................................141
¡Vámonos pal Norti! (Let’s Go North!) ..............................................................142
A Team of Rivals ...............................................................................................145
Mexican Federalism and Its Consequences for the Border Region .....................146
Education on the Line ....................................................................................... 149
Are We All Juárez? .............................................................................................154
Conclusion ........................................................................................................157
References .........................................................................................................159
142 ◾  Using the “Narcotrafico” Threat to Build Public Administration
advantage of the “perfect storm” represented by drug trafficking to recommend
changes in primary (and other levels of) education in order to promote the scientific,
technological, and cultural development of that region. In addition, we will assess
the effectiveness of a strategy designed during President Calderóns administration
(i.e., “Todos Somos Juárez” [TSJ], or “We all are Juárez”) to improve educational
achievement in one of the most dynamic and lively municipalities of the northern
frontier by moving it under the control of the national government. We will use
two conceptual variablesthat is, the continuum between unity and diversity, and
the one between autonomy and sovereigntyto evaluate the effectiveness of the
TSJ strategy to mitigate the conditions of underdevelopment and insecurity that
affect the City of Jrez.
¡Vámonos pal Norti! (Let’s Go North!)
During the nineteenth century, Mexico’s northern frontier was seen as an inhos-
pitable place, distant from Mexico City and isolated from the rapid growth that
was occurring in the United States. Meanwhile, Mexico responded to American
expansionism—notably the independence of Texas and its subsequent admission to
U.S. statehood—by initiating a war against the “great country” in 1847 (Davies,
1972). e disastrous effects of this war and the subsequent Treaty of Guadalupe-
Hidalgo resulted in Mexico ceding vast amounts of territory (i.e., what is now
California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Texas) to the United States. ey
also contributed to the creation of a collective image of the United States in which
the “gringo” was despised and despicable. Also, the road to the north, though fasci-
nating for some, was primarily viewed as leading to a barbaric country.
Considered historically, the borders in the world are zones of confrontation
between countries, political institutions, cultures, belief systems, and people. In
the case of Mexico, the infamous boundary between Mexico and the United States
separates development from underdevelopment, order from disorder, legality from
illegality, and functionality from dysfunctionality. e population located on the
Mexican side of the border considers itself threatened and discriminated against
by the “giant neighbor.” Also, people in Mexico City and other urban areas in the
central highlands of Mexico tend to devaluate and belittle them, categorizing them
as “chicanos, ayankados, pochos, cholos and chundos.” Under these conditions,
it is not surprising that residents of border area cities like Tijuana, Ensenada, and
Mexicali in Northern Baja California do not share the same patriotic vision as those
who live in the rest of the country. Why should they? ey are isolated from the
rest of Mexico, forced to cross into the United States in order to reach the main-
land of their own country on the east side of the Sea of Cortes. eir local brands,
local clothing, local customs, and local attitudes mark their isolation from the rest
of Mexico. Is it any wonder that other Mexicans consider them “ayankado” (i.e.,
exotic, related to “Yankees”)? (Gamio, 1991, 1993).

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