War Along the Borderline
Everybody knows that trouble brews along the American-Mexican border. President Calderon's courageous efforts to liberate Mexico from cartels has made him one of the most heroic leaders of the 21st century. But serious problems persist and continue to fester. Amexica, by Ed Vulliamy, is an ambitious book in that it attempts to describe the larger picture, so difficult to grasp in its entirety. A single work, however valuable, is not going to explain everything. But fiction and non-fiction, documentaries, and journalism will have to suffice. To see for oneself along the border, north and/or south, is much too dangerous.
It has never been nice. El Camino del Diablo, the Devil's Highway, is the name given the ancient trail taken by the Pima across the Sonoran Desert. Coronado followed it. A river runs through it, and, as if nature herself decided the matter, the Rio Grande separates the U.S. from Mexico. Too bad for the Tohono O'odham, a Native American tribe, sprawled out on both sides.
Some Mexican towns help deliver drugs. Others facilitate human trafficking. Bajadores are bandits who rob Mexicans entering America. Guatemalans who tag along have already been subjected to robberies on northbound trains from the south. Coyotes lead migrants in return for money paid to Narcos, celebrated in narcocorridos, drug ballads. In Phoenix, there are hundreds of kidnappings a year involving migrant drop houses.
The Night of El Grito ordinarily commemorates independence from Spain. It is also a holiday during which a particularly gruesome mass murder occurred in Juarez. In Tijuana, tienditas (picaderos in Juarez) sell cocaine, marijuana, heroin, and various synthetics. One of the largest problems in these regions is feminicidio or femicide, accompanied by encubrimientos, cover-ups. In fact, murder reports can be totally insane, involving, upon occasion, shamelessly imaginative entries.
In 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect. It was immediately hailed by cartels as a gift from heaven. After all, business is business. Products differ, as do methods, but the bottom line is always big bucks, legal or not.
Another river runs concurrently with the Rio Grande. It is called the Iron River. It flows mainly from the U.S. to Mexico, transporting automatic weapons. There, as here, contraband pays. In Reynosa, Narcos wear expensive clothes, drive sports cars, and have ornamental girlfriends. To be perfectly honest, the drug trade is, at this moment in time, indestructible. In the Zetas or Texas Syndicate, someone from the lowest rungs on the ladder can climb to amazing heights. If he or she is put in prison, gang members stick by them long after family and friends have deserted.
And so, what is being done? Actually, plenty of very well-qualified men and women are at this very minute giving their all. But common sense alone suggests that the will to defeat narco-terrorism -- complex, international, wealthy, well-populated, organized, and powerful -- is not forthcoming. So much more is needed. In life, there are many frustrations that warrant prayer. This is one. Viva Mexico!