Sunday, January 08, 2006

Mayhem at the Mexican Border

Two months ago, one of my best friends started talking to me about the Mexican border. He cited it as “the issue”, the one issue the republicans will harp on in the next election to make the American people afraid. My friend says that the Republican Party keeps power because, when they have control of such a powerful spin machine, they can generate the type of fear in the American people that will make it impossible to elect the ostensibly weaker democrat.

Today I read the ABC News report on the Laredo-Nuevo Laredo border, linked to above, and at the very least I’m beginning to feel the fear over the border issues. While I’m not sure that I buy into the conspiracy theory yet, there is no question that the report paints an ugly picture of an area out of control and lawless.

Not surprisingly, the Mexican side is far worse than the US side. The drug cartels in Nuevo Laredo evidently has fair control over the city, feeling free to commit whatever crimes it sees fit with little fear of being brought to justice. 170 people have been killed over the last year, including a city councilman, 13 police officers, and the city’s police chief, who lasted a full 7 hours in office. The new police chief, Omar Pimentel, takes a far healthier attitude than his predecessor: “The local police department’s job is to prevent robberies. People think our job is to fight the drug cartel, but it’s not.”

The US side, Laredo Texas, is not much better off. Kidnappings have become so regular that there is a growing market for kidnapping insurance. I lived in the Middle East, and I’ve never even heard of kidnapping insurance. A few weeks ago a man was gunned down in front of his pregnant wife, and the sheriff’s department cites that as the type of brutality becoming more and more regular. And more drugs are seized by the more than 1,000 border patrol people at the Laredo border than by any other federal agency.

Both sides point the fingers at one another, the Mexicans saying that huge demand and inadequate monitoring of the border by the US contributes to the problem, providing the promise of easy money for the Mexican drug lords. And I think back to what my friend said; could we be contributing to this situation, perhaps passively, to provide “the issue” to the Republicans, to ensure their next electoral victory? I don’t know if I it goes this far, but I’m sure I wont be the only person watching this situation closely over the next two years.

Posted by Scottage at 10:45 PM / | |