LA JOLLA- Freedom of Expression. Child Migration. Arms Trafficking and Gun Control Policy.  Three of the most relevant issues affecting the bilateral relations between Mexico and its Central American and North American neighbors were the subjects of a unique border series organized by Ambulante A.C., a non-profit organization founded in 2005 by actors Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna and Pablo Cruz.

On three consecutive evenings, the Institute of the Americas, in cooperation with Ambulante A.C., the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana, the Centro Cultural Tijuana (CECUT), Delegacion de Playas de Tijuana, Centro Cultural La Raza, the Trans-Border Institute of San Diego, El Grafógrafo and Pasaje Rodríguez, screened documentaries and hosted panel discussions.

Diego Luna was a keynote speaker during a Sept. 7 panel discussion titled, “Arms Trafficking and Gun Control Policy Mexico-USA.” Luna was joined on the panel by Joy Olson, executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA); Raul Benitez, professor of political science at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM); Jose Manuel Valenzuela, professor at the Colegio de la Frontera Norte; and Simone Lucatello, researcher at the Dr. Jose Maria Luis Mora Institute in Mexico City. Before the panel discussion began, the audience of almost 100 people viewed the documentary, “Tiroteo/Gun Fight,” directed by Barbara Kopple.

“Freedom of Expression and Persecution of Journalists” was the subject of a Sept. 8 panel discussion moderated by MariClaire Acosta, director of Freedom House-Mexico and former deputy secretary for human rights and democracy in Mexico. Also on the panel were Sergio Haro, reporter at the Tijuana weekly Zeta; Carlos Dada, founder of El Faro, an on-line investigative newspaper in El Salvador; S. Lynne Walker, vice president of the Institute of the Americas and former Mexico City bureau chief for Copley News Service; and Bernardo Ruiz, director of the documentary “Reportero/Reporter,” which was screened prior to the discussion.

A panel discussed, “Child Migration and Detention Centers,” following a Sept. 9 screening of the documentary, “Which Way Home?” Participating on the panel were Michelle Brane, director of the detention and asylum program at the Women’s Refugee Commission and Gisele Bonnici, director of the regional Americas office of the International Detention Coalition.  Kevin Keenan, executive director of the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial counties, moderated the panel.

The Ambulate Border Series was organized during a critical period following the presidential elections in Mexico and preceding the elections in the U.S. to encourage public discussion on these issues. According to government sources, eight of every 10 weapons seized from organized crime in Mexico come from the United States.  The number of attacks on journalists in Mexico and Central America have increased and become more violent, with few measures being taken to guarantee their security and freedom to exercise their profession. Child migration is also on the rise and the conditions in detention centers are deteriorating.