Mexican Standoff?

Mexican Standoff?

Cable news junkies like myself are no doubt familiar with one of the larger talking heads in the business, CNN’s Lou Dobbs. Lou, one of Ted Turner’s original hires, has carved out a niche over the past several years by specializing in a curious blend of money, populism, and isolationism. One of his main ongoing concerns is the strengthening of our border with Mexico. Lou often comes across as a person who believes that only Americans deserve our lifestyle, and that Mexicans are somehow less human than Americans and should all stay below the border.

I don’t know how many times—if ever—that Lou Dobbs has traveled to Mexico. If he did, he would find a beautiful country with a rich heritage and a warm, welcoming people. My wife and I were married in Mexico, and we’ve traveled there quite often over the past sixteen years. We love the place and we love the people. ¡Viva Mexico!

Over the past few years, however, something has happened that is making me—gasp!—agree with Dobbs about our border with Mexico. It has nothing to do with the illegal immigration issues; rather, it has as much to do with Mexico’s national security as it does our own.

The drug cartels have become an increasingly more visible presence in Mexico. They terrorize communities with murders and kidnappings; torture and beheadings are their calling cards. Their tentacles of corruption reach deep into all levels of the government, police, and national security forces. They operate with seeming impunity and now seem to be calling the shots in many places.

Our government has issued numerous travel alerts on the Mexican situation; this is from the most recent dated February 20:

“Some recent Mexican army and police confrontations with drug cartels have resembled small-unit combat, with cartels employing automatic weapons and grenades.  Large firefights have taken place in many towns and cities across Mexico but most recently in northern Mexico, including Tijuana, Chihuahua City and Ciudad Juarez.  During some of these incidents, U.S. citizens have been trapped and temporarily prevented from leaving the area.  The U.S. Mission in Mexico currently restricts non-essential travel to the state of Durango and all parts of the state of Coahuila south of Mexican Highways 25 and 22 and the Alamos River for U.S. government employees assigned to Mexico.  This restriction was implemented in light of the recent increase in assaults, murders, and kidnappings in those two states.  The situation in northern Mexico remains fluid; the location and timing of future armed engagements cannot be predicted.”

In Ciudad Juarez, the cartels told the local police chief that they would kill an officer every 48 hours until he resigned. After two cops were killed, the chief quit, and the city’s mayor sent his family to Texas for safety. And what’s the reason for all this violence? It’s America’s insatiable appetite for illegal drugs. Users who think that what they do is a “victimless crime” obviously haven’t thought about the nearly 2,000 people killed by the cartels in Juarez alone.

Multiple millions of U.S. dollars flow southward to the cartels every year, enabling them to buy the weapons they use to kill police officers, government officials, and innocent victims. In another amazing statistic, as reported on CBS’s 60 Minutes, over 90% of the firearms and assault rifles used against the local authorities are purchased in the United States.

In terms of national security, the Mexicans seem to have a lot more to worry about from us than we ever did from them.

So for the sake of the security of both our nations, perhaps as part of our infrastructure rebuilding and economic stimulus, we might take a look at building a secure border with Mexico. We might consider, in the name of Homeland Security, taking a closer look at all traffic between our two nations, as opposed to harassing innocent people in airports. If we’re able to drastically reduce the flow of guns and money from our side of the border, we just might enable the Mexican government to help take its homeland back from the cartels. If we don’t do something, the security of both our nations will remain at risk. And it’s not that far from Juarez to El Paso, or from Tijuana to San Diego.

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Thank you to all those who voted me Best Local Celebrity in the Weekly’s “Best of Marathon” contest. It’s a true honor, and I appreciate that it comes from the people who take time to see all the things that are right within our community. We have a great town, and I’m honored to be a part of it.

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