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A Matter of Perspective

If we simply take the view of 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.", then we are all safe and secure North of our porous border with Mexico and should not fret about the "renewed" upsurge in Mexican on Mexican violence on the "other side." Yes, then we are "disingenuous and naïve" and should ignore the obvious.

Instead, let us consider all signs that the violence is ramping up again and in fact, is changing in nature. While it appears that the drug cartels have become concerned with the Zetas, the paramilitary group that once acted as enforcers for the Gulf Cartel, the brazenness of the cartels led to a series of seven attacks against Mexican military installations last week in the northern states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon.

This is Easter weekend. Traditionally, many Mexican families cross the border to shop and spend time with friends and family. Instead, earlier this week It was reported that children are being targeted by the cartels, with some reports from the El Paso area that protection money of 5000 pesos is being "requested." So the Northern flight of Mexican families now, to avoid threats against their children, also threaten to bring the violence to Texan border cities' schools.

We are indeed disingenuous and naïve. Yet with an understated concern, the US Consulatein Monterrey, Mexico warned Americans to avoid travel on highways to Reynosa and Nuevo Laredo.

A firefight between Mexican military and drug traffickers occurred on March 19th near the Monterrey TEC University, resulted in the deaths of two students.

Innocent bystanders were also wounded and killed in confrontations between criminals and Mexican authorities in late March in the neighborhood of San Jeronimo in Monterrey and the city of Santa Catarina, a suburb of Monterrey.

Ten students ages 8-21 were killed March 28 at a roadblock set up by criminals near Pueblo Nuevo, Durango.

Yes, it is obvious that Americans and Texans are over reacting to the expanding violence in Northern Mexico. It is clear that the potential for "spill over violence" is non-existent and that the Mexican government has full and total control over the drug cartels. Are we that naïve?

No, we are not, and Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw

told lawmakers this week that in his opinion, the violence in Mexico had transcended that which plagued Columbia during the 1980's and 90's - "Colombia was never threatened like the government of Mexico is with the level of violence." And still, there are those who continue to disagree with this bleek outlook.

While McCraw said the violence will get worse before it gets better and has already outpaced the scariness of Pablo Escobar's Medellín cartel in Colombia, at least one border expert disagreed, saying that the United States would never let the situation in its neighboring country devolve into the lawlessness that plagued Colombia. "I think maybe he's exaggerating," said University of Texas at El Paso professor Howard Campbell.

The overall problem is Mexico lies not only in the narco-terrorism and the inability of the federal government (in Mexico) to control the violence, but also in the fact that the cartels battle among themselves for control over territory and drug routes into the U.S. Further, as noted by Alex Posey of STRATFOR, Columbia allowed American military assistance against the Medellín whereas Mexico will not permit U.S. military intervention.

McCraw's view is that it will get worse before it gets better. Probably the most intriguing aspect of this entire discussion though is that it is the State of Texas and not the U.S. federal government that is taking the more protective approach to this very real problem.

Post Script: Proving that "all is well" South of the Border, the University of Texas-Austin has ordered all of its exchange students attending the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education to leave.

"Due to the deteriorating security situation in Monterrey, the university recalled students in the program," Clarke Casarez said. "The university is committed to securing the safety of our students wherever they are in the world."

It seems like the stack of evidence is tilted opposite to the opinion of Ambassador Sarukhan.