In ‘Border City,’ Sandra Dibble introduces us to Tijuana, a region on the Mexican border caught between two worlds

Society & Culture May 20, 2022
Border City podcast art
Listen to ‘Border City’

For more than 25 years, journalist Sandra Dibble has been writing a different kind of story about the U.S.-Mexico border. She’s spent those years in Tijuana, studying the dynamics of the city and its relationship to San Diego — its American counterpart just over the California border.

Together, the two cities make up the largest shared region between the United States and Mexico. In “Border City,” Sandra is introducing listeners to Tijuana just as Sandra was introduced to it: through the news stories she covered and the friends she made.

A new podcast as of April 2022, “Border City” is a Los Angeles Times and San Diego Tribune series hosted by Sandra Dibble. This 8-part podcast introduces listeners to Tijuana as Sandra knows it. Episodes of this podcast average at just 30 minutes long.

As Sandra tells us, Tijuana is the crossroads where migrants with determination and dreams come, drug cartels battle for smuggling routes, and violence is sadly the name of the game. But, the city is also a lively and bustling metropolis, filled with art, food, culture, and incredible people.

Sandra had actually only expected to stay in Tijuana for a year, but she couldn’t help being drawn to the city. Plus, 1994 turned out to be a pivotal year for Mexico. As Sandra tells us in the opening of the first episode, that year, Indigenous Zapatista rebels declared war on the Mexican government, the North American Free Trade Agreement was launched, and the peso dropped greatly in value during what is now called the Mexican Tequila Crisis.

On top of that, just days before she left Washington D.C. for the Mexican border city, leading Mexican presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio Murrieta was assassinated at a campaign rally. Days after she arrived, the Tijuana police chief and his bodyguard were gunned down in the street – a warm welcome indeed. Regardless, Sandra knew she had to stay.

“Border City” is fragments of life in Tijuana during an important time in history. Whereas news stories about the city offer just fleeting glances, often emphasizing the violence its residents find themselves in the midst of, Sandra wanted to share what the city is actually like. Heartbreaking and beautiful, it tells the story of a city caught between worlds, not unlike Sandra when she moved there.

Fans of podcasts like “California Love” and “Not Lost” will deeply enjoy “Border City.” Sandra is a beautiful storyteller, weaving a personal narrative between the news stories she’s covered that have changed Tijuana. She speaks with many, many residents of the city about lives being lived between drug cartel violence and a beautiful culture. There’s no one better suited to tell the story of this deeply nuanced city than Sandra. Be sure to check out her podcast “Border City.”

Listen to ‘Border City’

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