Inside Art Rascon's most dangerous travels around the world

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Saturday, April 29, 2017
Art Rascon - Dangerous assignments
For 19 years, Art Rascon has brought you up close to some of the world's most dangerous places

If there's one thing we've learned from Art Rascon's nearly two decades of reporting at ABC13, it's that peace and freedom are cherished around the world.

Art Rascon has traveled to 76 countries and reported on major events around the world. That sentiment is especially found in some of the world's most dangerous places, where frightened people hope to escape the grips of poverty, war, disaster, and unspeakable crimes against humanity.

With every story, we've seen a fight for survival and a glimmer of hope, sometimes faint, for better days even in the face of insurmountable odds.

But he says some of the most dangerous and memorable are: being chased by a mad man with a machete while reporting in the jungles of Nicaragua, having an AK-47 pointed to his head when reporting out of Iraq, Israel and the West Bank, falling from a second story structure that collapsed after a Category 3 Hurricane hit Nags Head, North Carolina, and being caught in the cross-fire in Ramallah in the West Bank of Israel during coverage of the Palestinian uprising against Israeli troops. The list goes on, including being chased by a group of thugs during the racial riots of Los Angeles and being apprehended on the Southern border of Iraq, by the Kuwaiti army. He was detained for several hours before he and his photographer were able to secretly escape.

WATCH: Art Rascon on the hunt for 'El Chapo'

Art Rascon takes you deep inside the tunnel used by drug lord 'El Chapo' to escape prison

From the killing fields in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, to the triage centers after the Haiti earthquakes, to Cuba, where a once impoverished people have renewed hopes for a better economic future, here's a closer look at the people and places Art has covered:

Inside Juarez: Violence, drugs and murder (2009-2016)

The horrific bloodshed near the Texas-Mexico border and the enduring threat of drug cartels has been a centerpiece of Art Rascon's reporting at ABC13.

In 2009, he took us inside the "deadliest city in the world"-Ciudad Juarez-where even the presence of 8,000 troops couldn't bring a sense of security to the people who live there.

RELATED: Art Rascon inside Mexico's notorious El Cesero Prison

Art Rascon takes a journey inside the Juarez prison.

In that year alone, nearly 2,000 people were slaughtered in drug cartel violence.

In one small Mexican town with 60-percent unemployment, Art introduced us to a 20-year-old woman who was the only applicant for the town's police chief. She became the successor after two previous chiefs had been killed.

While she and many others wouldn't speak about the drug cartels directly, we did meet several female prisoners who said they were lured into smuggling drugs into Texas.

Some of these women are lucky. One was able to bring her 11 month old baby with her behind bars. Others, however, grieve after family members stopped bringing their kids to see them in prison.

WATCH: The search for Haiti earthquake survivors

Art Rascon got a first-hand look at the destruction following the 2010 Haiti earthquake disaster.

The Haiti Earthquake (2010)

Art was one of the first U.S. journalists to report from the rubble of the Haiti earthquake in January 2009, where we met families who lost the very little they owned in the disaster.

Collapsed buildings and a lack of resources left millions in the streets without shelter, food or water. They seemed to wander aimlessly in shock and bewilderment, Art wrote. International aid was limited in those first few days, trickling in slowly before a flood of assistance came days and weeks later.

Mass graves could be found everywhere, with one believed to contain more than 100,000 people buried beneath the downed buildings of Port-Au-Prince.

Kosovo's Freedom Fight (2007)

When the European Union agreed to support Kosovo's independence from Serbia, Art Rascon was there to document the freedom fighters' deadly battle for democracy.

After Serbia forced a million Kosovars from their land, thousands of men, women and children were slaughtered in an ethnic cleansing campaign. The U.S. responded by ending the war in 1999.

Freedom fighter Avni Spahiu told Art, "We owe it to these people who gave their lives and who sacrificed their families and everything they had so that this nation could have its freedom."

Human Smuggling in Europe (2007)

Later that year, Art returned overseas, tracing how people from the Middle East and throughout eastern Europe were being smuggled into the U.S. through Houston.

The smuggling trail was surprisingly unguarded, Art reported, and illustrated the sometimes easy path taken by human traffickers from the east to the west.

A new hope: Cubans react to improving relations with the U.S.

Political change on the horizon in Cuba (2015)

As then President Barack Obama worked to loosen sanctions on Cuba, Art went to visit the country as the first commercial flight left from Los Angeles to Havana in 2015.

He found a spirited people and an improved economy, but a nation still hoping to realize its potential.

Art introduced us to Daniel, a bike taxi man, who hoped to bring home $120 that month, double the salary he was pulling down as a government nurse.

Others who spoke to Eyewitness News said the political changes they were seeing were good, and embraced by Cuba's younger generations.

FRIDAY AT 10 PM: Art Rascon returns to Mexico, where another mass grave and hundreds of skulls have been found along the Gulf Coast.

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Art Rascon hospitalized after copperhead snake bite in Houston

Eyewitness News' own Art Rascon was bitten by a poisonous snake this morning on his way to work

Art Rascon flies with the Thunderbirds squadron