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Mexico: Denying the Obvious

Ask these questions. At what point do frequent and periodic border incursions constitute a violation of US sovereignty? At what point does the instability in Mexico become a direct threat against American citizens? How many Americans will have to die before our federal government takes serious action along the Texas-Mexico border? And finally, how long does the federal government delay before violence against American citizens on American soil constitute an act that prompts more proactive actions than stating that "it continues to support Mexico's fight against ruthless gangs smuggling narcotics into the United States."

Quite obviously, we are fighting a war against terrorists worldwide. Regardless of what you call it, al Qaeda's form of terrorism is an aggressive force on multiple fronts around the globe. More recently, American citizens influenced or motivated by some "need" have become another focus of terrorism concern. Yet, while we are working, fighting and dying to establish security and stability in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mexican President Calderone's policies to control and combat the narcotics violence on/near or across our border appear to be ineffective and as some people believe, failures. Ask when (not if), it will fall to the United States to defend itself from continued incursions by the criminal and violent elements in Mexico?

Earlier this week, Texas Governor Perry deployed Texas military helicopters to begin patrolling the border as part of his Spillover violence contingency plan in response to the latest incursion by Mexico in the United States.

"As violence escalates in Mexican border cities, it's critically important for Texas, U.S. and Mexican law enforcement to communicate and appropriately coordinate our efforts to combat border crime and protect legitimate cross-border trade and travel...

[continued]

..."The helicopter incursion and uptick in violence in Mexican border communities underscore the urgent need for more U.S. law enforcement and surveillance along the Texas-Mexico border. I once again urge our federal government to add personnel and technology along the Texas-Mexico border to prevent spillover violence here and to combat drug cartels operating in the border region."

The actual Press Release can be seen here.

Saturday's local newspaper featured a quote from, Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. Arturo Sarukhan that "Texas elected officials are disingenuous or naïve to believe drug violence is spilling across the border into the United States."

Disingenuous? Naïve?

It is pretty well established that one of the most successful methods used by Los Zetas "south of the border" has been recruitment of law enforcement officials through bribes and threats of death, dismemberment and dead families. To believe that police in the U.S. would be immune to the same bribes and threats would be naïve. In fact, the DHS has said that since 2008, the cartels have ramped up their efforts to bribe U.S. law enforcement. According to the F.B.I.:

Around 400 corruption cases have been investigated by U.S. federal agents. The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) service is a particularly popular target for cartelista bribery or even infiltration. The CBP itself reported that over 500 corruption cases were made in 2009 against people working for the service.

Are some additional facts needed?

In the last two years, more that 4000 murders occurred in Juarez, or one in every 325 residents

According to the U.S. State Department, the death toll of Americans more than doubled from 2007 (35) to 2009 (79).

Texas politicians are "disingenuous and naïve" according to the Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. Americans are to blame for the drug cartels in Mexico because Americans are the market for the narcotics. Americans are to blame for the violence in Mexico because guns and ammunition are being illegally shipped across the border. Sure! In today's San Antonio Express (link will not be available until later this week when the publishers post the article on the website), Professor Hector Padilla, a social sciences professor at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez is quoted as saying: "It's not really a crisis of narcos and murders. It's a crisis of the state, which cannot protect the citizens and is not accountable to them."

"If Calderon doesn't change his strategy, the people will continue to leave. And if things here continue to get worse, it will be worse for Mexico."

Unavoidably, and without the rose colored glasses of some like the honorable Ambassador from Mexico, the border between the United States and Mexico is incapable of keeping people from crossing the border illegally. Drug cartel activity in McAllen and Pharr Texas earlier this year is indisputable.

Sometimes it has been easy to criticize Texas Governor Perry's border security efforts. There is even an an article this week commenting that Mr. Perry blames Washington for the border violence and then criticizes the Governor for misdirected efforts on the border (to arrest illegals) instead of focusing on Interstates 10 and 35 that serve as a the drug corridors to Texas cities and to much of the rest of the mid-part of the country.

Although Texas U.S. Senators Cornyn and Hutchison sent a joint letter to President Obama last week stating in part that "The spillover violence in Texas is real and it is escalating," many people agree with the Mexican Ambassador.

PERSONAL OPINION: A head in the sand approach toward this situation denies the obvious. Some of the Governor's previous border security efforts have been of arguable value (like the border surveillance cameras). However, it is hard to criticize deployment of the helicopters to patrol the border. One question (at least) does arise however. How far can a state go in defending its border when the federal government is perceived as not doing enough?

ADDED (not new news): America's Unacknowledged War