Blogging from the border

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Viewers and now readers, I look forward to blogging with you, sharing news from the border and Mexico. I hope to give you a sense of what it's like while I'm on the scene reporting but also a peek behind the scenes and ultimately a closer look at the issues, people and places of this fascinating region.

As many of you know, I am the border reporter. I team up with photographer Hugo Perez and we travel the length of the border and into Mexico to bring you news stories.

It's a country many of you know well. You have family and friends there, do business in Mexico and of course there's that favorite vacation spot. I want to hear your stories, impressions, and ideas in the new year. But first let's look back.

Hugo and I covered a lot of ground in 2008. We traveled the length of the border for a series on the controversial fence. We also stood on the banks of the Rio Grande as the river flooded Ojinaga and threatened Presidio. And we look you inside a Mexican stem cell clintic that offers American patients hope.

We showed you a tiny beach town billed as the next big tourist destination. It's just an hour drive from the Arizona border. Many of you who know and love Puerto Penasco told me you worry the new international airport will spoil the secret.

But the BIG STORY this past year without a doubt was the violence in Mexico, especially here on the border.

As I look back on blood-soaked year 2008, I find myself looking over my shoulder. With more than 1600 murders, no one can deny Juarez is among the most dangerous cities in the world. Warring drug cartels clash over turf (and smuggling routes to the U.S.) and defy a crackdown by the Mexican government. And they're using terrorist tactics to bring this city to its knees: Beheadings, mob style hits, carefully crafted messages left on piles of bodies dumped in public places.

On an early morning drive to the Juarez airport in November, I saw a lone cop car parked on the top of an overpass. It was too dark to see the horror below. Later I would learn it was a headless body hung for all to see when dawn broke. The head was later found at small monument to the press.

I've had to carefully consider when and how I cross the border to cover this story. It's the people of Juarez who keep me coming back. The goal: go beyond the body count to show the impact on this border community as Mexico copes with "narcoterrorism" and the U.S. comes to terms with the threat to our neighbor AND ourselves.

In mid-December hundreds of doctors in Juarez protested the escalating violence. A psychologist at the demonstration who sees a growing number of patients dealing with PTSD said, "The majority of us are good people and we can face the evil in the city." She covered her face with a surgical mask like all the other doctors at the demonstration who were afraid to reveal their identities.

On New Year's eve Juarez residents rushed home before dark to celebrate at home rather than risk a party in a public place. The hope for the new year: peace.