Thursday, October 16, 2008

State Department announces that Northern Mexico is dangerous. Also says that ice is cold, and that fire is hot

The State Department has announced that Tijuana, Nogales, and Cuidad Juarez are getting kind of dangerous for Americans to be in at any time, day or night.

No kidding. I expect soon that they'll be telling us to not try to run our cars on sugar water.

When the Army tells its soldiers they can't go to Juarez to raise hell because it's too dangerous, it's pretty obvious that it's become a free fire zone against anyone who happens to be there.

TJ has been getting a bad reputation for years, and now it's come to the point where I wouldn't go there for any reason.

I lived about an hour northeast of Nogales when I was in the Army, and we made frequent shopping trips there for booze, vanilla, and Christmas presents. I never went more than a few hundred yards into the city, and it got rough pretty quick once you got outside of the shopping area close to the border. I only went there at night a couple of times to go drinking with my fellas, and we were smart enough to always have a big guy along who stayed sober enough to get us out of bad situations. When we heard that a group of young soldiers was going down there for an evening of fun, we made sure to give them a nice, calm talk about being safe and getting home in one piece.

Now apparently, there are shootouts in the shopping areas in broad daylight. No way I would be going there for any reason without a lot of friends and a lot of weapons.

Mexico as a country has started coming apart at the seams due to the narcotics trade that flows through the country from one end to the other. The level of violence in the conflicts between the drug gangs and their collective fight with the government is escalating fast, and doesn't appear to be slowing down. When thousands of your citizens for one reason or another are being murdered over smuggling, it's not a fight against drugs, it's a fight for survival of credible government control of the country. Mexico City isn't trying to enforce its laws so much as it is trying to squelch a state of revolt in its northern states.

Unless the Mexican government can get a handle on this thing, I expect Mexico to be considered a failed state within the next decade. And that would be a damned shame. Mexico is a beautiful country, with a history that goes back thousands of years. The people I have met who are from Mexico have tended to be honest, hard working folks who just want to get a good pay for a good days work and use that to raise a good family. When you go shopping in Arizona, the native born American kids look like something out of a bad thug-rap video. The Mexican families are neat, pressed, polite, and well-behaved.

The loss of a good neighbor like Mexico would be a great hit to our nation.

And I don't expect the problem to stay south of the border for long. We're already starting to see problems in border areas like Los Angeles, Phoenix, Tucson, and all of the cities along the Texas-Mexico border. If the drug gangs can have free reign in Old Mexico, they sure as shooting aren't going to allow the border to stop them from trying to have their way in our country.

I've heard some people talk about a "reconquista", in which radical Mexican-identity believers want to take over the lands that we took from Mexico in the 19th century and make it a hispanic mini-state. I don't believe that will ever happen, any more than I believe that neonazis will create an aryan state in the northwest or that the South will rise again.

What I do see happening is the problems of Latin America becoming the problems of the southern half of the continental United States. I see the areas along the border becoming more and more crime-prone unless the violence is quelched in Mexico itself.

Here are my ideas:

  1. We have to starve the drug gangs out by getting rid of their business in the United States. They won't have the money or incentive to do these horrible things if their business model collapses. Either we cut demand for illicit drugs in our country by getting people to stop using them, or we make them legal for personal use. There's no money in smuggling something that people can purchase legally at the liquor store or local headshed. I'm not going to go down the rathole of drug legalization, at least not today, but we need to discuss whether or not continued prohibition is worth the damage that illegal trade in drugs is causing to our country and our neighbor.
  2. Provide as much assistance to the Mexican government as we can so that they can fix their problems as quickly as they possibly can. The Mexican government will have to spill a lot of blood to do this, but it's necessary. You can't negotiate away this problem. Someone will have to tell Amnesty International to figure out the difference between rooting out a revolt by narco-terrorists and the normal operations of a criminal justice system.
  3. We have to secure our border with Mexico. A fence, either made of cameras or steel and concrete won't do it all by itself. We need men and women with guns and radios patrolling the border from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico. The Border Patrol either needs to be beefed up in manpower and firepower, or we need to re-activate some of the old cavalry regiments and have them patrol the border.

Just my two centavos.

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