Most travellers simply pass through the northeast border towns on their way between Texas and Mexican cities further south – the towns on the Mexican side have traditionally attracted a steady stream of day-trippers from the US for cheap bric-a-brac shopping and tasty snacks, though like elsewhere this trade has been severely disrupted since 2009.

The Río Bravo, known to Americans as the Río Grande, forms the border between Texas and Mexico, a distance of more than 1500km. The country through which it flows is arid semi-desert, and the towns along the lower section of the river are heavily industrialized. This is the maquiladora zone, where foreign-owned assembly plants produce consumer goods, most of them for export to the US.

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