Precariously perched along the Mexican border, Texas is affected by what goes on in the country in a multitude of ways. And the recent explosion of violence between drug cartels and the Mexican federal government led by Felipe Calderon is no exception.
I have travelled to Mexico twice a year for more than 10 years now, and there’s always an undertone of fear surrounding the cartels and the police there, but nothing like what is happening now.
The Sunday news reported on a Friday evening last December that 30 police officers were murdered in and around the border town of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, over the weekend. People who had always been scared to go out at night are now scared to go out during the day.
My nephew, an English professor who owns a car lot in the city, told a story about a friend and colleague who were murdered the week before. The cartel goons showed up at the man’s car lot and demanded that he pay $10,000 and two Chevy Suburbans for a “protection fee.” The man asked that they return the next day and when they did, the lot owner had police waiting for them and all were arrested on the spot.
However, the victory was short-lived because a few days later, everyone on the lot was murdered and decapitated-including a man who was looking to buy a car.
In fact, everyone I spoke to about the situation had a horror story. Everyone is living in fear.
Now, we can continue to watch in motionless horror and assume this will not affect us. But the truth is that what happens in Mexico doesn’t stay in Mexico, especially for Texans.
Recent media reports have illuminated the fact that the violence is starting to spill over now. This “spill-over violence” includes murders and abductions, and as things worsen for Mexicans, they also will for Texans.
More than 6,000 people lost their lives in Mexico last year as a result of cartel violence, according to Sunday’s 60 Minutes piece on the issue, and there is no relief in sight. The U.S. Department of Defense has identified Mexico as a country with the potential to destabilize rapidly. Further destabilization could bring Texas not only the brutal violence of this real “war on drugs” but also a horde of refugees across the border who are desperate to find safety.
Perhaps a more effective strategy would be to offer the Mexican government support to fight the war and win instead of waiting for the day when absolute disaster is on our doorstep.
Instead of investing billions in a border fence that can be easily averted using a ladder or rope to climb over, a pathway around or tunnel underneath, wouldn’t it be a smarter investment for America to participate in bringing the drug smuggling operations under control on both sides of the border?
Opinion Editor Katie Martinez is a junior news-editorial journalism major from Fort Worth.