Tag: mexico
Mexican Army

Do Republicans Really Think Bombing Mexico Will Win Drug War?

There is no border in the world anything like the one between the United States and Mexico: a wealthy industrialized nation sharing a 2,000-mile frontier with a developing country barely able to raise its millions above subsistence-level poverty. It’s as if France were to border directly upon Algeria, or Germany upon Somalia.

American writers from Ambrose Bierce, who vanished during the Mexican revolution of 1913, to Cormac McCarthy, whose All the Pretty Horses depicted Mexico as a place of enchantment and deadly violence, have always seen it as a land of extremes. Sam Peckinpah’s 1969 film The Wild Bunch dramatizes near-phantasmagoric violence.

The brilliant Mexican poet and essayist Octavio Paz maintained that mutual incomprehension between the two countries was permanent and inevitable. America’s legacy, Paz wrote in The Labyrinth of Solitude, “is Democracy, capitalism and the Industrial Revolution,” while Mexico’s is “the counter-reformation, monopoly, and feudalism.”

The American belief in the inevitability of progress doesn’t really exist there, although half the Mexican population would probably emigrate to “el Coloso del Norte” if they could.

I once visited the home of a seasonal worker in a remote, picturesque village in Jalisco, whose mother insisted the whole town would follow him to California if they could.

“Todos, todos, todos,” she said. “No hay nada para nosotros en Mexico.” (“All of us. There is nothing for us in Mexico.”)

So naturally, Republicans want to bomb them. Because, of course, nothing has ever succeeded like America’s vaunted war on drugs, and looking manly and warlike is Job One among GOP politicians. Writing in The Atlantic, former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum compiles an alarming list of conservative politicians who think the best way to fix the eternal crisis at the U.S.-Mexican border is to bomb and/or invade that country.

Supposedly, presidential candidate Donald Trump has asked his advisers for a plan of attack. His mini-me rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, has proposed a naval blockade of Mexican ports. The idea is to interdict chemicals Mexican drug cartels use to manufacture fentanyl. (Suggestion: Take a look at a map showing that country’s thousands of miles of coastline on the Caribbean Sea, the Pacific Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico. DeSantis’ suggestion is absurd on its face.)

GOP senators are breathing smoke and fire. Last year, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas wrote a New York Times op-ed arguing: “We can also use special operators and elite tactical units in law enforcement to capture or kill kingpins, neutralize key lieutenants, and destroy the cartel’s super labs and organizational infrastructure. We must work closely with the Mexican government ... but we cannot allow it to delay or hinder this necessary campaign.”

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham argues that “Our nation is being attacked by foreign powers called drug cartels in Mexico ... They are at war with us. We need to be at war with them.”

Somebody will have to tell me where and when a nation has bombed its way out of a drug addiction crisis. But then, I had the great advantage of riding in Mexican Army helicopters more than 40 years ago during “Operación Condór,” back when the drug killing Americans was heroin and the cartels were mainly a regional problem in the state of Sinaloa.

I thought they ought to call it “Operación Pato Muerto,” i.e., dead duck, because the authorities had no chance of eradicating heroin poppies grown by destitute campesinos from a remote area in the Sierra Madre as large as California, where government authority scarcely existed.

Indeed, I’ve never met a Mexican who believes that country’s government has either the will or the ability to eradicate drug smuggling as long as we Yanquis keep buying the stuff. Not even Roberto Montenegro, the courageous Mexican reporter who arranged my helicopter ride and who was murdered on the cathedral square in Culiacán a couple of months after I left.

This, too, as Frum astringently points out: Mexicans do have a democracy, and they do get to vote. What’s more, they know a whole lot more about us than we know about them, and most feel that we’ve corrupted them more than the other way around. No Mexican politician can afford to be seen as countenancing a U.S. insult to that country’s sovereignty.

“Mexicans are dying,” Frum points out, “because of American drug purchases. Mexico has about one-third the population of the United States but four times the homicide rate.” Most are dying in gang wars over market share. “Does Mexico do too little to halt the flow of opioids northward? The United States does nothing to halt the flow of guns southward.”

Every Mexican citizen knows this proverb: “Poor Mexico, so far from God, so close to the United States.”

Gene Lyons is a National Magazine Award winner and co-author of The Hunting of the President.

Reprinted with permission from Sun Times.

US-Mexico Border Remains Calm As New Asylum Rules Take Effect

US-Mexico Border Remains Calm As New Asylum Rules Take Effect

El Paso (United States) (AFP) - The US-Mexico border appeared calm on Friday as tough asylum rules come into force, with senior officials in Washington expressing confidence that the new system would work.

Thousands of people remained on the Mexican side of the frontier hoping to enter the United States, but the chaotic surge of migrants that right-wing politicians predicted failed to materialize.

"We are seeing people arrive at our southern border, as we expected, as we have been planning for," Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Friday.

"We are screening and vetting them and if they do not have a basis to remain, we will remove them very swiftly."

Arrangements at the border changed at midnight, as the pandemic-era Title 42 -- a health provision that allowed for immediate expulsion -- expired.

In its place is a regularized immigration rule that threatens illegal border-crossers with five-year bans and possible criminal charges, and requires asylum-seekers to apply from outside the country.

"Our plan will take some time, but our plan will succeed," said Mayorkas.

Up to 10,000 people have tried to enter the country every day over the past week, border officials told the US media.

Many turned themselves in to US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) hoping to be registered and "paroled" -- let go because authorities did not have the capacity to house them or expel them.

At the airport in El Paso on Friday, Yoenny Camacaro was hunkered down waiting for a flight to Indiana to reunite with her cousin.

The 23-year-old, who has been granted an appointment with a judge in November 2024, said she was very happy to have arrived in the United States after a long and difficult journey from Venezuela through the jungle and by train.

"It's cold, you don't eat, you can't go to the bathroom, and we depended on food being thrown at us," she told AFP.

"But that's over. Now we're here, we've done it."

In among the relief, there was also tragedy.

US officials said a teenage boy had died in the custody of Health and Human Services, which takes care of children entering the country unaccompanied.

The department gave no details, but Honduran Foreign Minister Enrique Reina said a 17-year-old boy had died in an HHS facility in Florida.

'Calm And Normal'

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said the number of US-bound migrants crossing his country was ebbing.

He said around 26,500 migrants were waiting in Mexican cities along the long US frontier, and the situation was "calm and normal."

"The flux is dropping today. We have not had confrontations or situations of violence on the border," Ebrard told reporters.

Mexico's national immigration agency has ordered its offices to stop issuing documents authorizing migrants to transit through the country, officials said, in an apparent attempt to curb flows to the US border.

Edith Tapia of the International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian nonprofit group, said the new policy limiting the ways in which vulnerable people could claim asylum in the United Sates left them prey to the criminal gangs that roam northern Mexico.

This "will continue to put migrants and asylum seekers at risk and (leave them) without the possibility of... protection," she told AFP in El Paso.

The border policy shift ordered by President Joe Biden has been controversial, with his supporters on the left saying new rules are too strict while opponents on the right have claimed, without evidence, that he is "opening the borders."

His new policy came under immediate legal attack.

In Florida, a federal judge agreed to a request from the state's Republican administration and ordered the border patrol to stop granting parole to border crossers and asylum seekers -- letting them remain in the United States while their cases are reviewed, a process that can take years.

And in Texas, 13 Republican-led states filed a suit declaring parole "illegal."

Parole "creates incentives for even more illegal aliens to travel to the southwest border," they said.

Washington says it is expanding legal pathways to asylum by setting up regional processing centers, bolstering guest worker programs, and granting more admissions for refugees from Haiti, Cuba, Venezuela and other troubled countries.

For asylum seekers, it has launched an app, CBP One, to arrange immigration interviews at the border.

While many have complained of glitches, Amadeo Diaz, 62, was in Tijuana, south of California, with his family for his asylum interview.

The family, from Arcelia in Mexico's south, said they faced kidnapping and other violence in the region where drug cartels wield great power.

"There is a lot of kidnapping, a lot of killing. Innocent people are being killed and that is why we decided to come here to ask for help," said Diaz.

Biden Seeks Action On 'Irregular' Migration And Fentanyl Smuggling In Mexico

Biden Seeks Action On 'Irregular' Migration And Fentanyl Smuggling In Mexico

Mexico City (AFP) - US President Joe Biden on Monday sought tougher action on illegal migration and drugs in talks with his Mexican counterpart Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, as strains showed in the neighbors' approach to tackling the crisis.

Biden is visiting Mexico for the first time as president to meet Lopez Obrador and also hold three-way talks with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at what is dubbed the "Three Amigos" summit.

Biden said that one of his priorities was discussing "the plague of fentanyl, which has killed 100,000 Americans so far," referring to the often-deadly opioid smuggled across the border by Mexican drug cartels.

Another vital issue was "how we can tackle irregular migration, which I think we're well on our way to doing," he said at the start of the talks, calling Mexico a "true partner."

While Lopez Obrador gave Biden a warm welcome on his arrival at the presidential palace, his tone hardened at the formal talks, where the Mexican leader appealed for a change in US attitudes toward the region.

"It is time to end this oblivion, this abandonment, this disdain for Latin America and the Caribbean," Lopez Obrador said.

Biden defended Washington's record, saying it had spent "tens of billions of dollars" in the past 15 years alone that had benefited the region.

"The United States provides more foreign aid than every other country just about combined," he said.

"Unfortunately, our responsibility just doesn't end in the Western Hemisphere," Biden added.

The White House said after the meeting that the two leaders had discussed "increased cooperation to prosecute drug traffickers and dismantle criminal networks, disrupt the supply of illicit precursor chemicals used to make fentanyl, shut down drug laboratories, and prevent trafficking of drugs, arms, and people across our shared border."

They also "reaffirmed their commitment to implement innovative approaches to address irregular migration... and to address the root causes of migration," a statement said.

'Where are our rights?'

On his way to Mexico, Biden made a politically charged visit to the southern US border for the first time as president.

He stopped for several hours in the border city of El Paso, Texas, meeting with US officials and inspecting a section of the tall fencing that snakes along the frontier.

"They need a lot of resources. We're going to get it for them," Biden told reporters after his visit to a customs post.

Just ahead of Biden's arrival in Mexico, a line of migrants, some with children in their arms, were deported from El Paso to Ciudad Juarez.

Venezuelan Jose David Melendez told AFP that he had been apprehended by border guards at a church where he was taking refuge.

"The police officers from the border patrol came and hit us, made us run, pointed guns at us, pointed at children with firearms. Where are our human rights?" the 25-year-old said.

On Thursday Biden announced an expansion of powers to expel people showing up at the border without clearance.

At the same time, a legal, strictly enforced pathway will be created for up to 30,000 migrants a month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

Asked whether the quota could be increased, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Washington wanted to see how the changes unfold, adding: "I don't think we have a fixed number in mind."

Handshakes and Hugs

Lopez Obrador and his wife Beatriz Gutierrez greeted the US president and Jill Biden at the National Palace for a welcome ceremony notable for its smiles, enthusiastic handshakes and even hugs.

The first wives delivered a joint message in English and Spanish emphasizing the two countries' shared values.

In 2021, the United States and Mexico announced a revamp of their fight against drug trafficking to address the root causes of migration, encourage economic development and bolster curbs against cross-border arms smuggling.

Mexico is plagued by cartel-related bloodshed that has seen more than 340,000 people murdered since the government deployed the military in the war on drugs in 2006.

Days before Biden's visit, Mexican security forces captured a son of notorious drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who is serving a life sentence at a US prison.

Climate change and cooperation in clean energy technologies will also be on the summit agenda, with Mexico hoping to benefit from Washington's efforts to reduce its reliance on Asia-based manufacturers.

Texas Governor's Border Policy Jams Traffic, Causing Shortages And Inflation

Texas Governor's Border Policy Jams Traffic, Causing Shortages And Inflation

Freight activity along the Texas-Mexico border has slowed to a standstill after Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered secondary inspections of commercial vehicles coming into the state, causing miles-long traffic, massive trucker protests, food shortages, and skyrocketing prices.

Abbott announced the “unprecedented” policy last week, clashing with the Biden administration over its intention to end Title 42, a Trump-era policy that grants border officials the authority to expel migrants at the border without affording them the chance to seek asylum.

What started as delays in crossing the border morphed into a gridlock Tuesday as truckers snarled in traffic reeled from the increased wait times of up to 30 hours caused by Abbott’s week-old policy of additional vehicle inspections.

Frustrated, Mexican truckers blocked key bridges — Pharr-Reynosa international bridge, Zaragoza (Ysleta) bridge, and the Santa Teresa port of entry, according to multiple reports — prompting 18-wheelers to opt for other Texas crossing, where the influx of trucks is creating multi-mile traffic jams, exponentially increasing wait times.

Facing hours-long delays, some drivers have diverted to Arizona and New Mexico, according to the Times.

Produce Spoilage, Looming Food Shortages

The National Freight Transportation Chamber said about 3,000 trucks cross the Pharr bridge daily, hauling about $70 million worth of goods across the biggest land port for produce entering the United States from Mexico.

Presently, an eight-mile long line of about 3000 trucks sits on the Pharr bridge, nose to tail, awaiting entry in temperatures north of 100 degrees Fahrenheit, imperiling the produce in unrefrigerated trucks snarled in traffic, warned Rod Sbragia, vice chair of the Fresh Produce Association of Americas.

Even refrigerated trucks have six days of fuel to power their refrigeration units, after which produce spoilage is guaranteed, Sbragia added.

The association’s president, Lance Jungmeyer, blasted Abbott’s new policy for leaving 80 percent of perishable food trucks stranded outside the border since Friday.

One of El Paso’s largest distributors of produce, Quality Food and Veg, said the extra vehicular inspections in the McAllen and Hidalgo areas have seen in-bound produce-hauling truckers snarled in traffic for up to two days.

“We have truckloads every day crossing” from Mexico into Texas with avocados, tomatoes, and other produce that are sold to grocery stores, restaurants, schools, and other institutions,” Nick Delgado, president of Quality Food and Veg told the El Paso Times.

“If this goes on, it will dry up supplies and we won’t be able to get it in,” Delgado said. “This will hurt the food chain. Consumers will start seeing shortages,” and that will keep driving up the price of produce in stores across the United States, he added.

“It’s at a crisis level now,” said Dante Galeazzi, president of the Texas International Produce Association, as food and vegetable importers pleaded for a resolution to the political standoff that is worsening an already pandemic-strained supply chain.

‘It’ll hurt us all’

The freight standstill has caused millions of dollars in losses for employers and employees idled by the gridlock, Jungmeyer told the Washington Post. He named transportation shortages and rising food prices as the far-reaching ramifications of the governor’s policy.

The Biden Administration has assailed Abbott’s new policy, calling it an “unnecessary” and “redundant” measure that’s driving prices even higher.

“Governor Abbott's unnecessary and redundant inspections of trucks transiting ports of entry between Texas and Mexico are causing significant disruptions to the food and automobile supply chains, delaying manufacturing, impacting jobs, and raising prices for families in Texas and across the country,” said Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary.

Beto O’Rourke, a former Democrat congressman running for Governor of Texas this year, reaffirmed his support for affected business owners at a Tuesday press conference at an empty storage facility in Pharr, where he lambasted Abbott’s insouciance for “Texans and all Americans.”

“Greg Abbott is killing businesses and the Texas economy with this stunt,” O’Rourke said.

Calls for an end to Abbott’s controversial policy aren't just coming from Democrats. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, a Republican, penned an open letter to Abbott calling for a stop to secondary vehicle inspections, which he called “political theater” that is killing the economy and creating product shortages that are causing “untold losses” for business owners.

“Your inspection protocol is not stopping illegal immigration,” Miller said in his letter. “It is stopping food from getting to grocery store shelves and in many cases causing food to rot in trucks — many of which are owned by Texas and other American companies. … The people of Texas deserve better!”

Abbott Isn’t Backing Down

Abbott has ignored calls from Democrats, Republicans, and even the Mexican government to scrap his policy, saying that, despite the miles-long jams, spoiled produce, and the rising losses businesses have faced, his policy would stay in place until his office gets more assurance of security.

The two-term Republican governor announced an end to additional inspections at Laredo-Colombia bridge because Nuevo Leon Governor Samuel García agreed to conduct extra vehicle checks on the Mexico side.

Abbott’s policy has brought to light GOP infighting that signals rising tensions between the pro-business and law-and-order factions of the Texas Republican Party.

On Tuesday, Mexico’s Deputy Trade Minister Luz Maria de la Mora sent a letter to the Republican leader of the second-largest U.S. state requesting help to find ways to keep trade flowing, according to Bloomberg.

Jerry Maldonado, president of the Laredo Motor Carriers Association, decried Abbott’s refusal to address the border crisis. “We’ve been trying to get the governor to listen to us,” Maldonado said in a telephone interview. “Unfortunately, as of this morning they are still doing the inspections and it’s still delaying all the border crossings in Laredo of stuff coming from Mexico to the U.S,” Maldonado told Bloomberg.

Abbott has refused multiple requests for comment as multi-crossing gridlocks remain in place and food prices continue to rise.