Osiel Cardena’s lawyer, Juan Jesús Guerrero Chapa, was assassinated in Dallas, Texas on Wednesday afternoon by an armed man after shopping in a local mall. He also defended other drug kingpins such as Gilberto “El June” García Mena, Juan García Ábrego, and his brother Humberto.
When the sun rises over the Rio Grande Valley, the cries of the urracas — blackbirds — perched on the tops of palm trees swell to a noisy, unavoidable cacophony. That is also the strategy, it could be said, that local officials, health care providers and frustrated valley residents are trying to use to persuade Gov. Rick Perry and state Republican lawmakers to set aside their opposition and expand Medicaid, a key provision of the federal health law.
The Rio Grande Valley has a load of troubles: high unemployment, low-paying jobs, warring Mexican cartels, a meager tax base and legions of people without health insurance. While many of those woes seem incurable, expanding Medicaid to the region’s uninsured is, to , who runs several local health clinics, a no-brainer. “I think if we’re not ready, if Texas doesn’t buy in in the next three months, shame on us,” she says.
President Obama complimented George W. Bush on his character, dedication to country and his legacy, which Obama said includes kickstarting the push for immigration reform.
“Seven years ago, President Bush restarted an important conversation by speaking with the American people about our history as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants, and even though comprehensive immigration reform has taken a little longer than any of us expected, I am hopeful that this year — with the help of Speaker Boehner and some of the senators and members of Congress who are here today — that we bring it home for our families, for our economy, for our security and for this incredible country that we love,” Obama said at the Bush library dedication in Dallas.
Each year, just before they approach the United States border, thousands of truck drivers hauling produce from western Mexico to southern Texas stop in the city of Reynosa to lighten their loads.
Mexico allows heavier trucks on its roads than Texas does. To avoid being charged a fine — which averages about $110 — when they reach Texas, drivers routinely drop off a few pallets of bell peppers, avocados, tomatoes or watermelons to be picked up by lighter trucks before crossing one of Hidalgo County’s international bridges, according to Keith Patridge, president of the McAllen Economic Development Corporation, which promotes commerce in both McAllen and Reynosa.
With little fanfare but much local anticipation, the international crossing at Big Bend National Park was reopened Wednesday — almost 11 years after being shut down as a post-9/11 security measure. With many Boquillas residents still doubtful after so many false rumors, a crowd of local men, some on horseback, gathered at the rocky riverbank and watched silently as the first group of Americans arrived shortly after 9 a.m.
Not waiting for the boat, a cluster of U.S. immigration officials rolled up their pants and waded the shallow Rio Grande for a final meeting on the riverbank with their Mexican counterparts on hours and days of operation, and other technical issues. “It’s a good day. We’ve waited a lot of years for this and now everyone can come over legally,” said Carry Huffman, the deputy chief patrol agent for the U.S. Border Patrol in the Big Bend Sector.
The popular Mayan Riviera is seeing a resurgence of spring break tourism, underscored by the heavy presence of Texans frolicking on white, sandy beaches, after a period when warnings of violence kept many away. For the first time in three years, the Texas Department of Public Safety didn’t widely publicize a travel warning for Mexico, although it continues to warn on its website of “continued violence throughout the country,” including some resort towns.
The move has contributed to an easing of tensions between Texas and Mexico and to more Texans traveling to Mexico now and in the weeks ahead, residents and hotel officials say. About 100,000 visitors are expected for spring break this season, including the Discher family of Plano.
The Mexican ruling party’s recent decision to adopt a platform that could open up the country’s giant oil monopoly to private investment has caught the attention of some industry gurus in Texas, who say the move bodes well for U.S. business interests.
The Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, remains adamant that the state-owned company, Petróleos Mexicanos, or PEMEX, will stay under state control. But the proposal, which requires legislative approval, could mean more oil is exported from Mexico to the U.S., and that Mexico might turn to Americans for guidance on how to increase production there.
In the wake of a tense national clash over the issue of gun control, Mexico has taken an action sure to fan the flames of controversy. In January, the Mexico Permanent Commission reportedly voted to formally ask the United States Senate for a registry of all commercialized firearms in the border states of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. According to Informador, the proposition was introduced by Senator Marcela Guerra, who stated he introduced the resolution in hopes that it would make it easier to trace guns used in violent crimes. InsightCrime explains,
“Close to 60,000 people were killed during the six-year presidency of Felipe Calderon, who left office in December. The US Southwest is a significant source of weaponry for Mexico’s criminal organizations, who typically purchase firearms from US gun stores via a middleman or ‘straw buyer.’”
José Luis Zúñiga “El Güicho” was declared guilty at the beginning of this moth and he could be sentenced up to 20 years of prison for illegal possession of arms and a migratory crime.
Zúñiga is a member of the Gulf Cartel and headed criminal operations in Matamoros, Tamaulipas until he fled to the United States. The border patrol detained him and other four people in October 2011 and found $20,000, cocaine, and a gun under his possession.
Since 2011, WOLA staff have carried out research in six different zones of the U.S.-Mexican border, meeting with U.S. law enforcement officials, human rights and humanitarian groups, and journalists, as well as with Mexican officials and representatives of civil society and migrant shelters in Mexico. As part of this ongoing work, the authors spent the week of November 26-30, 2012 in south Texas, looking at security and migration trends along this section of the U.S.-Mexico border. Specifically, we visited Laredo, McAllen, and Brownsville, Texas, and Matamoros, Mexico.
We found that unlike other sections of the border, the south Texas sections have seen an increase, not a decrease, in apprehensions, particularly of non-Mexican migrants; migrant deaths have dramatically increased; and there are fewer accusations of Border Patrol abuse of migrants. We also found that the Zetas criminal organization’s control over the area may be slipping and drug trafficking appears to have increased, yet these U.S. border towns are safer than they have been in decades. Lastly, in spite of the ongoing violence on the Mexican side of the border and the failure of the Mexican government to reform local and state police forces, U.S. authorities are increasingly repatriating Mexicans through this region, often making migrants easy prey for the criminal groups that operate in these border cities.