Sunday, November 14, 2010

As It Stands: America's unstable neighbor poses a greater threat than the Taliban

By Dave Stancliff/For the Times-Standard

Posted: 11/14/2010 01:29:46 AM PST

While our government is busy waging war in Afghanistan, a war on our own border is escalating and resulting in increased American causalities. "We have been at war here since 2003 and unfortunately we are familiar with the concept of death," Col. Bill Meehan, a spokesman for the Texas National Guard, recently told the national press.

Col. Meehan's comment came on the heels of the murder of a National Guardsman, Jose Gil Hernandez Ramirez, 21, of El Paso, who made the mistake of crossing over into the border city of Ciudad Juarez on personal business.

More than 6,500 people have been killed in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, since a turf war erupted two years ago between the Juarez and Sinaloa drug cartels.

Another American who made a mistake and paid for it with his life was David Michael Hartley of Texas. He and his wife Tiffany were ambushed after crossing into Mexican waters with their personal watercraft on Falcon Lake, near the southern tip of Texas, on Sept. 30th.

According to a Houston Chronicle analysis of the U.S. State Department's death registry, 48 Americans were slain in Mexico during the first six months of 2010. The U.S. State Department says more than 80 Americans have been killed this year in Chihuahua, the state where Juarez is located. That's already more than the 79 homicides of U.S. citizens in all of Mexico in 2009.

In October, six U.S. citizens were killed in less than a week in Ciudad Juarez, including two students in the latest attack, according to U.S. officials. It has one of the world's highest murder rates, with more than 2,000 people killed this year.

Why are stories like this more commonplace every day? Perhaps because the war, and it is a war, in Mexico is spilling into U.S. territory with frightening regularity. The Mexican Gulf drug cartel has penetrated 270 U.S. cities according to recent Homeland Security reports. Atlanta, Georgia, is a major Gulf cartel smuggling hub according to the DEA and state authorities.

Our government needs to stop acting like the world's police force. We can't afford it. Mexican drug traffickers sell heroin and other drugs in our cities with impunity. What's happening on our borders and in our cities should be priority No. 1. National security should start at home.

Mexico is in a state of siege and shock from the increasing brutality of cartels who show the world who is really in control there. The Mexican media have all but surrendered to these cartels because the government can't protect journalists who dare to report their illegal activities. Freedom of the press is suppressed daily.

Despite this grim drama next door, our politicians have focused their efforts on Iraq and Afghanistan to “protect” our national interests. I question why they downplay this war in Mexico.

It's troubling being next to a country so corrupt its police are suspected of being connected to the cartels they fight.

Americans tourists traveling to Mexico are warned about certain areas, mostly in Northern Mexico (on our borders), acknowledged to be dangerous by both the Mexican government and ours. That is another concession to the power of the cartels, and yet another example of the control they exert throughout Mexico.

The big picture is we have an unstable country next door. An increasing number of its inhabitants flee to the U.S. seeking safety, as well as for financial reasons. Their war is spilling over into our country and our politicians prance around that reality, trying to act like they're doing something about it. The death toll is going up, not down.

This volatile situation is no secret. It's been going on for decades, and despite nice talk between our two governments about lofty trading goals and human rights, the reality is much more sober. We need to protect Americans from the war next store, and that takes money.

As It Stands, what's it going to take to get our politicians to recognize the war in Mexico endangers Americans more than the Taliban?

No comments: