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Ilegal Mezcal x Paste Magazine

After years of bonding over our shared love of live music, we traveled with the Paste team to Antigua, Guatemala in December 2021, to produce the live-streamed concert series Paste Studio on the Road, at Café No Sé, Ilegal Mezcal’s original home. We then hosted a show at the stunning La Casa de la Ruina, featuring Gaby Moreno, David Aguilar, Silvana Estrada, Lau Noah, Kath Palma and SUSU.

Our Greenpoint HQ is now the New York home for the Paste Studio on the Road, and in 2022 our stage has been graced by iconic artists like Gogol Bordello and John Oates (of Hall & Oates), and rising acts like Thick, Dead Tooth, and Lovechild. And at SXSW, we presented Paste Magazine’s 20th anniversary showcase, featuring 44 bands including Delta Spirit and Sunflower Bean, over four days at the Pershing in Austin, TX – pictures by Gabriel Walker in the gallery below!

Check back for announcements of more to come with Paste Magazine, and discover more about our connection to music, including our Musician’s Breakfast series, here.

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Ilegal Mezcal’s Commitment to Quality

Why elevate your agave and tequila collection with Ilegal Mezcal? Ilegal is made ‘Sin Prisa’ without rush or hurry using artesanal methods. Produced in small lots – each bottle is hand corked, labeled, and numbered.

Our practices reflect our dedication to sustainability and biodiversity in the Oaxaca region. 100% natural, Ilegal Mezcal uses no artificial colors, yeasts, flavors, or additives. Just agave, sun, and time. Mezcal versus tequila, is handcrafted artisanally, and agave roasted in underground earthen ovens. Commitment to quality is apparent in every step of our process, from harvest to first sip.

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Hunter, NY | Washington Irving Inn

Opened by Ilegal founder John Rexer in the early 2000s, Café No Sé has become the beating heart of an international music scene in Antigua, Guatemala. This is the original home of Ilegal Mezcal + the first mezcal bar opened outside of Mexico.

Bar Ilegal is an experiential outpost of Café No Sé. We kicked off Bar Ilegal 2022 by posting up for 4 weekends at Washington Irving Inn (reopening as Hotel Lilien in Summer 2022). Ilegal Mezcal cocktails & food menus were provided by:

Ponyboy [Feb 11-12]
For All Things Good [Feb 18-19]
Aldama [Feb 25-26]
Mister Paradise [Mar 4-5]

Bar Ilegal heads out on tour, starting in Jacksonville, FL on 3/15. Pics below by Sarah Craig, from our final weekend at the Washington Irving, which featured two raucous performances by the legendary SUSU!

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Venice Beach: The Lincoln

Bar Ilegal is an experiential outpost of Café No Sé. Opened by Ilegal founder John Rexer in the early 2000s, Café No Sé has become the beating heart of an international music scene in Antigua, Guatemala. This is the original home of Ilegal Mezcal + the first mezcal bar opened outside of Mexico.

Two pop-ups were held on September 20th and 21st at the Lincoln in Venice, California. Tattoos and live performances by SUSU – check out photos below, by Rene Banuelos.

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San Diego: The Cordova Bar

Bar Ilegal is an experiential outpost of Café No Sé. Opened by Ilegal founder John Rexer in the early 2000s, Café No Sé has become the beating heart of an international music scene in Antigua, Guatemala. This is the original home of Ilegal Mezcal + the first mezcal bar opened outside of Mexico.

The last stop of the year was on September 25th at The Cordova Bar, with musical guest Warbly Jets. Check out photos by Jose Zuniga in the gallery below!

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Team Brownsville – Periódico Agosto 2021

Como muchos antes que él, Alberto dejó atrás su patria y se dirigió a los Estados Unidos. El camino hacia la frontera de Estados Unidos fue difícil para el venezolano. La comida escaseaba e incluso fue secuestrado por coyotes quienes le pidieron un rescate a su familia. Su primer alivio se presentó cuando finalmente llegó a la estación de autobuses de Brownsville y fue recibido por Sergio Córdova, líder del programa y uno de los fundadores del Team Brownsville.

Team Brownsville es una organización sin fines de lucro que ayuda a familias e individuos que buscan asilo legalmente en los Estados Unidos. Sus voluntarios pasan todos los días de 8:30 a.m. a 6:00 p.m. entregando mochilas con kits de higiene, bolsas de refrigerios y mantas a los migrantes recién llegados a la estación de autobuses La Plaza. Según Sergio, la mayoría de los solicitantes de asilo llegan con muy poco dinero y muchos de ellos todavía tienen por delante el último tramo de su viaje hacia sus familiares o patrocinadores, por lo que dependen de los suministros que proporciona Team Brownsville.

La organización inició en el 2018 después de que el gobierno de Donald Trump comenzó a ejecutar su política de separación familiar con la esperanza de disuadir a los migrantes de ir a Estados Unidos. “La separación de los niños provocó tanta emoción”, recuerda Sergio. “Tuvimos una gran marcha para protestar. Miles de personas se presentaron y fue entonces cuando nos dimos cuenta de que había mucha gente que sentía lo mismo que nosotros; que sentía que esa política estaba mal”.

Poco después comenzaron a cruzar la frontera hacia Matamoros, México y descubrieron que habían personas viviendo en el puente y necesitaban recursos para sobrevivir. Rápidamente comenzaron a llevar suministros como agua y alimentos al otro lado de la frontera para los migrantes en el puente. Al principio, le proporcionaban suministros a unas 40 personas, pero ese número eventualmente se elevó a 2,700 solicitantes de asilo. “Básicamente así fue cómo empezó”, recuerda Sergio. “Solo ver la necesidad de la gente, ver el hambre de los niños, ver el agradecimiento en los rostros de estas personas que no tenían nada. Dormían sobre cemento y no tenían nada para comer. Habían dejado atrás el país que conocían y vendieron todo, y Estados Unidos les estaba diciendo que no podían entrar. No tenían nada, ni siquiera un país. Entonces, al ver esa necesidad, en nuestro corazón, sentimos que teníamos que hacer algo “.

Dos años y medio después de que Team Brownsville iniciara sus labores, el gobierno de Joe Biden eliminó el programa de Protocolos de Protección al Migrante (MPP) de la era Trump que había obligado a casi 70,000 solicitantes de asilo a permanecer en México durante sus procedimientos de inmigración. Según Sergio, allá por febrero de este año, el gobierno comenzó a permitir que alrededor de un centenar de personas del campamento cruzaran la frontera legalmente hacia Estados Unidos todos los días hasta que el campamento quedó completamente vacío. “En dos o tres semanas, el campamento desapareció”, explica. “Cuando la gente empezó a llegar a la estación de autobuses, tuvimos que cambiar nuestra misión”. Aunque el Equipo Brownsville continúa apoyando a la comunidad de migrantes en Matamoros, ahora se enfoca principalmente en darle la bienvenida y brindarle apoyo a las familias liberadas por las autoridades en los Estados Unidos en la estación de autobuses La Plaza en Brownsville. Los solicitantes de asilo generalmente llegan a la estación de autobuses de dos maneras. Una es por haber sido liberados de la custodia de la Oficina de Aduanas y Protección Fronteriza (CBP) de EE. UU. tras ser procesados en sus estaciones. La otra es después de ser liberados de uno de los tres centros de detención del Servicio de Control de Aduanas e Inmigración (ICE) en el Valle del Río Grande. “Es un lugar parecido a una prisión”, dice Sergio sobre los centros de detención de ICE, los cuales ha tenido la oportunidad de visitar. Según él, cuando las personas recién liberadas de esos centros de detención llegan a la estación de autobuses La Plaza, suelen estar encadenadas por las manos, la cintura y los pies. “Se están bajando de las camionetas y ves cuando los están desencadenando”, dice. “Los ves pasar de su vida carcelaria a una vida libre de repente”. Ante esto, vale recalcar que, según datos de la Universidad de Syracuse, hasta finales de marzo de 2020, más de seis de cada diez (61,2%) inmigrantes detenidos en los centros de detención civil de ICE nunca han sido ni serán condenados por algún delito.

Los voluntarios del Team Brownsville también ayudan a los migrantes a comprender mejor las paradas de autobús que deberán tomar para cambiar de transporte, explicarles las rutas y hacer mapas detallados que les muestren adónde se dirigen. Su presencia en la estación de autobuses y su ayuda a los solicitantes de asilo es fundamental después del peligroso viaje en el que se arriesgan a ser víctimas de violación, a caer en la trata de personas e incluso a perder la vida. En promedio, Team Brownsville le da la bienvenida a unos 120 migrantes a los Estados Unidos diariamente.

Para Sergio, el trabajo que hace Team Brownsville es bastante personal. Como hijo de una inmigrante, se considera muy privilegiado por haber nacido en Estados Unidos. “Tengo mucha suerte de haber nacido de este lado”, concluye. “Podría ser una de esas personas en las caravanas. Todos somos humanos y todos tenemos las mismas necesidades. Todos sentimos hambre, dolor y sufrimiento. El lugar donde naciste no debería definirnos. ¿Qué pasaría si yo hubiese nacido en otro país? ¿Será que alguien estaría ahí para mí si estuviera corriendo por mi vida? ¿Alguien estaría ahí si tuviera hambre y tratara de salvar a mi hijo? ¿Qué pasaría si los zapatos estuvieran en los pies de otra persona? ¿Qué si fuese yo quien necesita la ayuda? Por eso hacemos esto “.

Si deseas obtener más información sobre Team Brownsville y las formas en que puedes apoyarlos, puede visitar su página web en www.teambrownsville.org.

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Team Brownsville – Newspaper August 2021

Like many before him, he left his nation behind and headed to the United States. The road to the U.S. border was difficult for Alberto. Food was scarce, and he was even held for ransom at one point during his journey. His first respite came once he finally arrived at the Brownsville bus station and was greeted by Sergio Córdova, a program leader and one of the founders of Team Brownsville. 

Team Brownsville is a nonprofit that assists families and individuals legally seeking asylum in the United States. Their volunteers spend every day from 8:30AM to 6:00PM handing out backpacks with hygiene kits, snack bags, and a blanket to newly-arrived migrants at the La Plaza bus station. According to Sergio, most asylum-seekers have little to no money on them, and a lot of them still have the last leg of their journey towards their family members or sponsors ahead of them, so they rely on the supplies that Team Brownsville provides. 

The organization first came together in 2018 after the Trump administration began enacting its family separation policy, hoping that it would deter migrants from coming to the United States. “The Separation of children sparked so much emotion,” recalls Sergio. “We had a big march to protest it. Thousands of people showed up, and that’s when we realized that there were so many people who felt the same way as us, that felt like this policy was wrong.”

Shortly after, they began crossing the border into Matamoros, Mexico and discovered people living on the bridge in need of resources. They quickly started taking supplies like water and food over the border. At first, they were providing for about 40 people, but that number eventually rose to 2,700 asylum-seekers. “That’s basically how it started,” Sergio remembers. “Just seeing the need of the people, seeing the hunger of children, seeing the thankfulness in the faces of these people that had nothing. They were sleeping on concrete, and they had nothing to eat. They had left behind the country they knew and sold everything, and the U.S. was telling them they couldn’t come in. They had nothing, not even a country. So, seeing that need in your heart, we felt like we had to do something.” 

Several years after Team Brownsville started, the Biden administration did away with the Trump-era Migrant Protection Protocols program (MPP), which had forced nearly 70,000 asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico during their immigration proceedings. According to Sergio, back in February of this year, the government began to allow about a hundred people from the camp to cross the border legally into the United States every day until it was completely empty. “In two or three weeks, the camp was gone,” he explains. “When people started arriving at the bus station, we had to shift our mission.” Though Team Brownsville continues to support the asylum-seeker community in Matamoros, they now mainly focus on welcoming and supporting the families released by the authorities into the United States at La Plaza Bus Station in Brownsville. Asylum-seekers arrive at the bus station through two paths. One is from being released from U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody after being processed at their stations. The other is after being freed from one of the three Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers in the Rio Grande Valley. “It’s a prison-like place,” Sergio says of the ICE detention centers, which he was able to visit at some point. According to Sergio, when people who were just released from those detention centers arrive at La Plaza bus station, they are shackled by their hands, waist, and feet. “They’re getting off the vans, and you see them being unshackled,” he says. “You see them go from their prison life to a free life all of a sudden.” According to data from Syracuse University, at the end of March 2020, more than six out of ten (61.2%) immigrants held in ICE’s civil detention centers have never been convicted of a crime.

Team Brownsville’s volunteers also assist migrants to better understand their bus changes by explaining the routes and making detailed maps showing them where they’re going. Their presence at the bus station and their help to asylum-seekers is crucial following the perilous journey in which they risk subjecting themselves to rape, human trafficking, and even losing their lives. On average, they welcome about 120 migrants into the United States daily.

For Sergio, the work Team Brownsville does is very personal. As the son of an immigrant, he considers himself highly privileged for having been born in the United States. “I am extremely lucky that I was born on this side,” he concludes. “I could be one of those people in the caravans. We are all human, and we all have the same needs. We all feel hunger and pain, and suffering. Where you were born shouldn’t define us. What if I had been born in another country? Would someone be there for me if I was running for my life? Would someone be there if I was hungry and trying to save my child? What if the shoes were on somebody else’s feet? What if we were the ones that needed it? This is why we do this.”

If you’d like to learn more about Team Brownsville and the ways in which you can support them, you can visit their webpage at www.teambrownsville.org.