Did the Clumsy U.S. Consulate in Nogales Do More Harm than Good?

Consulate issues vague “Emergency Message” to chill border tourism on Memorial Day Weekend; Tucson news media pick up the ball to frighten potential visitors to Nogales


As I prepared to cross the street to the Morley Avenue border gate this afternoon I saw Tucson KVOA channel 4 news reporter Lupita Murillo and her camera operator waiting across the street from the border crossing gate. As two elderly women who had just crossed the border got into their car, Lupita and her key grip descended upon the senior citizens. I did not hear the question she had asked them, just the response: “the margaritas were cold!”

Truth is, I did not need to hear Lupita’s question to know that it related to the U.S. Nogales Consulate’s questionable “Emergency Message,” released over the Memorial Day weekend on May 25.

That emergency message, conveniently released over the weekend via internet, Facebook and Twitter, reads as follows:

“Due to credible threat information, the consulate urges US citizens to take highest precautions regarding personal safety in and around Nogales.”

That is it. All of the message.

Now, in addition to being so mindlessly lacking of details and useful purpose (in the place of “Nogales,” try reading the statement using words like “the swimming pool,” “the barbeque pit area,” or “your bathtub” – get the inanity of this missive?) this message may also be doing the citizens of Nogales and those interested in visiting here a major disservice.

If the Consulate has received credible information regarding a threat in Nogales, it is their duty and responsibility to provide more details regarding the area of the threat, the nature of the potential danger and any other credible details. Simply issuing a general threat in the manner that they did is irresponsible.

Lately there has been lots of positive news and fun events in Nogales – did the Tucson television reporters come here to report on the Green Valley Concert Band concert in Nogales, Mexico, or for the recent Mingus Jazz Festival, Fiestas de Mayo or other various festivals and fiestas that were enjoyed here?

Of course not. But you can depend on them to swarm Nogales whenever a travel alert is issued, or a group comes from Tucson to Nogales to protest border brutality.

Lupita and other news vultures like her will take the first opportunity at the scent of a safety threat in Nogales to come here and stoke the flames of imagined danger. And they do not just lurk at the border – Tucson KOLD channel 11 reporter Barbara Grijalva once knocked on the door of my Nogales home following a border incident to ask if I felt safe living here. Really.

Positive news about Nogales simply does not sell in outside media markets. Perhaps this is because rather than learning about the positive aspects of a border community, viewers would prefer to see blood in the water… something to frighten them, to confirm their decision not to visit Nogales or other border towns.

Even if Lupita and others of her ilk are trying to address the claims by showing that the border is still a safe place to visit, in framing the story with the consulate’s “emergency message” they still serve the negative and continual marginalization of Nogales and the border region.

Which follows general criticisms about news coverage … “if it bleeds, it leads.”

And this is not the first time that the consulate has issued apparently baseless claims regarding their impressions about safety in Nogales. However, we cannot list any of them, because the consulate has removed all of them from their website. And undoubtedly this one will also join the others in the abyss of abandoned bad advice that served only to continue to propagate false impressions of Nogales and undermine its economy.

Something that is very sad on a number of levels.

Editor’s note: We have found some highly speculative and circumstantial information regarding the source of the consulate’s earth-shaking emergency message – stop back, we will activate this link when we publish the story.

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