Two stories from the New Mexico part of the sector… On a personal note…I spent some time at the Las Cruces gun show yesterday and boy, was it a rousing success! I actually saw less anti-government propaganda than I expected, but did stop to talk to a few people. One was buying a shotgun to protect his property from all of the dangerous drug smugglers from Mexico… And of course the anti-wilderness rhetoric for the Organ Mountains is that making these areas wilderness opens up more terrorist havens. Yes, there are New Mexicans who believe that terrorists are waiting behind every yucca…
Response from the border to today’s immigration hearing in the House
(EL PASO, Texas) — There was a lot of talk about border security from leaders of both parties at today’s immigration hearing in the House Judiciary Committee. Unfortunately, it was all rhetoric from people who don’t seem to understand the reality of the border.
The usual suspects such as Republicans Rep. Lamar Smith and Rep. Steve King called for “securing the borders,” despite the massive enforcement of the last several years. But we also saw Democrats Rep. John Conyers and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro conceding that “more must be done.”
Worse yet, Republicans specifically fail to recognize what has been done: 22,000 boots on the ground, 6,400 miles of fencing and walls, the deployment of the National Guard and military units, increasing the use of military technology including unmanned drones, and $18 billion spent on immigration enforcement last year alone.
“It’s very interesting to us on the border that the only people talking about border security at today’s hearing were politicians. While the panel experts wanted to talk about solutions, some politicians would rather talk about the boogie man of border security. This shows how out of touch the committee is with the reality of the border,” said Fernando Garcia, executive director of BNHR. “We are living under the massive buildup of enforcement from the last several years on the border. And while these politicians want to talk border security, they seem unwilling and unable to talk about the consequences of it. These consequences include civil and human rights violations in our communities, migrant deaths and families torn apart.”
Border Network welcomes the committee to learn more about the border.
“Rep. Conyers said he would like the committee to visit the border and we think they should come on down and learn the truth before proposing politically-motivated ideas that have real life and death consequences for our community,” said Garcia.
An article found on the KFox14 website brings to light the necessity for El Pasoans to cross the Juarez border:
EL PASO, Texas — The U.S. Department of State is keeping Ciudad Juarez listed as a specific concern for those who need to cross the border, but many El Pasoans need to keep going.
The familiar border aroma of onion, cilantro and jalapeno rise in Rosemary’s kitchen in El Paso – the same way they once did in her home in Juarez.
“I still imagine myself cooking, cleaning,” she said.
For 17 years, the El Paso-born American rose at 4 a.m. to make the trek back and forth across the international bridge, and she did it all for a man.
“It just gives me a great sadness because I sacrificed so many things. I sacrificed a lot of things being in Juarez,” Rosemary said. I sacrificed family; I sacrificed friends because I wanted to be with the man that I loved.”
Together, the couple built a house from one room and a thriving little enterprise.
“He built his business starting with nothing but a shovel and a little truck,” she said.
While Rosemary commuted to El Paso for her job, her husband worked seven days a week building their future.
Then, in 2009, cartel violence consumed the city.
“A lot of my husband’s friends who had the same types of businesses had all been killed already,” she said.
Rosemary’s extortion nightmare began and everything about the couple’s future was threatened.
“That put our life, his life, the life of our family in danger,” Rosemary said.
The couple starting handing over $200 a week from his business.
“I begged him and I pleaded with him to move here to El Paso and he refused. He said he was not going to give in to anybody and that he came to this life with nothing, and he was going to leave with nothing,” Rosemary said.
The nightmare went on for a year, and then, the extortionists wanted more.
“The day that he was shot, I was at my job here in El Paso and they told me that they had shot someone inside the business of my husband. It was all over the news,” she said.
In an instant, Rosemary’s husband’s life was over. Her life was over and she knew it. In a matter of hours, with the help of family in El Paso, Rosemary packed up everything she could and moved back home.
American business owners by the dozens would follow suit.
“It was us, it was our neighbors, our neighbor got shut down for a year, and then, our neighbor next to him – they assaulted him twice,” said Luis Gallegos, who owns a staffing company.
In 2009, an extortion threat arrived at the door step of Arias and Associates, Gallegos’ company.
“I got a call in the afternoon, we were right here and they called us that all our employees are locked in,” Gallegos said. “They wouldn’t let them out because the federal police had just gotten executed a just 10 feet from our door.”
Soon after, the Gallegos family would be trapped in a gun battle while stuck in Juarez traffic. Their teenage son witnessed a man shot to death by automatic gun fire.
“We were panicked,” Gallegos said. “We were shocked, but our employees were like, ‘Well, it happened to me when I worked over there at the liquor store.’”
But they were not so cavalier about cartel crime. Their thriving staffing business provided a workforce to some of the 150 “maquiladoras” (factories) in Juarez, and it immediately went into stealth mode.
“The business, everything, is all being handled over the phone,” said Hossana Gallegos, Luis’ wife and business partner.
Luis said that they would not conduct business at night and would avoid staying late in the afternoon.
“If we go, we don’t even call our employees,” Hossana Gallegos said. “We don’t tell them that we are going to be there.”
Hossana and Luis, who are Americans, operate their business in Juarez as though they are phantoms. They are doing as many Americans commuting to Juarez now must do. They drive modest cars and constantly change their routines.
Although security measures are not openly discussed, these business owners say it’s an adjustment being made by all, including maquiladoras.
“You see a lot of increase to the security,” Luis Gallegos said. “They’re shutting streets down. The access to the plants is more difficult.
The Mexican chamber of commerce reports more than 10,000 businesses have shut down since 2009.
It’s unclear how many of those businesses were American-owned, but Mexican business owners by the hundreds have sought refuge relocating to the U.S. side of the border. Most of them move their businesses revenue to the states.
They represent a growing social and professional network that meets at a restaurant on a regular basis.
Statistics from the state department show that there may be no going back to a prosperous pre-cartel Juarez anytime soon.
The state department warnings remain in place in Juarez calling it a specific concern.
The number of non-immigrant visas to the United States has increased steadily since 2009 and continues to rise. State department numbers show Juarez has one of the highest murder rates in Mexico.
Immigration and human rights attorneys representing those seeking asylum in the United States agree that safety remains a rapidly deteriorating concept in Mexico despite what its politicians push to the public.
Meanwhile, Americans trying to run their business with one foot in each country wistfully wish for days past before commuting got crazy.
“I would still commute every day, but it was not the same as before. I would always have to look behind my back. My husband would always be waiting for me as soon as I left for home and would lock the gates as soon as possible,” Rosemary said.
There seems to be no predictability factor as to whether Juarez can ever return to the days before blood began running in the streets.
“I was happy living in Juarez; I had everything I needed around me,” Rosemary said. “I had a Sams, Walmart, and all the stores.”
Those in El Paso creating a booming bi-national community on the border say they are adjusting.
“As soon as you crossed the border, you would see the soldier and then there was one after the other, patrols, the trucks,” Luis Gallegos said. “They would pull you over, and you don’t see that so much anymore. And oddly, you feel safer now.”
As far as the economic impact in El Paso is concerned, given the businesses and business people and families who have moved here from Juarez, every indicator from numbers gathered by the El Paso Regional Economic Development Corporation show that all the stability and growth of the city’s economy is coming from our military base, and not from beyond the border.
This story found in the Latin American Herald Tribune just goes to show that enablers are required on both sides:
EL PASO, Texas – A local attorney remains in federal custody following his Friday arrest by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) regarding allegations of money laundering for a Mexican drug cartel.
Marco Antonio Delgado, 46, was arrested last Friday at an El Paso restaurant. He is charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering.
An El Paso-area attorney, Delgado is named in a federal indictment charging that between July 2007 through December 2008, in the Western District of Texas, he conspired with other individuals to launder money believed to be drug trafficking proceeds.
According to the investigation, Delgado is linked to a drug cartel based in Guadalajara, Mexico, and accused of conspiring to launder more than $600 million.
Dennis A. Ulrich, special agent in charge of HSI El Paso, said: “Drug cartels operate solely on the basis of greed. However, when they can also corrupt trusted authorities, the integrity and stability of both countries’ financial infrastructure may be at risk.”
Delgado had his initial appearance in federal court Nov. 5. His preliminary and detention hearing is set for Nov. 8. If convicted, Delgado faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
This HSI investigation was coordinated by HSI El Paso’s financial group and the HSI-led Southwest Border Financial Operations and Currency United Strike Force (FOCUS).
FOCUS was created to detect and target a wide variety of financial crimes in west Texas and the state of New Mexico. This multi-agency financial strike force includes the following agencies: HSI, Internal Revenue Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission. FOCUS works closely with the U.S. attorney’s office, ICE’s Office of the Principal Legal Advisor, and the U.S. Secret Service.
Each participating agency uses its unique law enforcement authorities to enhance the capabilities of the strike force. FOCUS investigates the following financial crimes: money laundering, mortgage and bank fraud, structuring, unlicensed money transmitting businesses/couriers, and bulk cash smuggling.
If there were any doubts about the erasing of the dead and disinformation about Juarez, try this sentence:
Since 1993, the small border town of Juarez has been overcome by waves of murders, most of which have been attacks against women. Human rights activists estimate the number of slain women is in the thousands.
First, Juarez is not a “small border town” but a city of at least 1.2-1.3 million people. About twice as large as its US neighbor, El Paso. Since 1993, using official numbers from the state Attorney General and media reports, the number of PEOPLE killed in Juarez is more than 14,500 and of that total, about 1,250 were women. This does not include the people who have gone missing. But by ANY count or estimate, we can say with certainty that at least 10 times as many of the murder victims in the city of Juarez for all of these years from 1993–present have been men or boys. A less misleading article from the El Paso Times neglects to mention the actual HUMAN death toll. Notably, in 2012, as we have gratefully seen the homicide toll decrease, the percentage of victims who are women has increased. This is probably due to the fact that as the murders related to gang violence and narco-violence have declined in Juarez, the number of domestic violence murders where the victims are usually women becomes a larger percentage of the total…in 2012, it is about 12.5 %. Still, the actual NUMBERS of women killed were much higher in 2010-2011 because the numbers of PEOPLE killed were so high overall. The quote from Irma Casas of Casa Amiga is absolutely true and applies to ALL of the victims, not only the women: ”Murders are rarely investigated and only 1 percent are even decided upon,” Irma Casas, director of women’s rights group Casa Amiga Esther Chavez Cano, told FOX News Latino.
Murders of women
1993-2007………………427 (3,538) – 12%
2008 ……………………….87 (1,623) – 5.3%
2010 ………………………304 (3,622) – 8.3%
2011 …………………….. 196 (2,086) – 9.3%
2012 (as of July 31) ………73 (584) – 12.5%
Women…………1,251 ( 14,527 total victims) – 8.6%
Women = 8.6 percent
of total murder victims over the past 18 years
Statistics from El Diario based on official data from the Chihuahua State Attorney General
In the words of Javier Sicilia, “we invite you to be our counterpart in an exercise of civilian diplomacy that can return peace, justice and dignity to the victims of this war. We hope we will be able to count on your valuable participation as an ally and partner in this historic event.”
The U.S. Peace Caravan will start from San Diego and visit 25 cities in route to their final destination of Washington D.C. The Caravan will arrive in El Paso August 20th. All are invited to the bienvenida in the San Jacinto Plaza at 9 pm.
On Tuesday, August 21st, please join us at a City Hall meeting at 9 am. Show your support for the arms trafficking Code of Conduct, a resolution that will increase transparency and accountability for arms sales in El Paso.
At 7 pm we will meet back at San Jacinto Plaza for the signing of the Arms Trafficking Code of Conduct. The Caravan will then march from the plaza to Annunciation House (1003 San Antonio). The night will conclude at Annunciation House with a vigil projection of victims’ names who have died from the violence in Mexico.
Please join us as we host the Peace Caravan.
If you would like to volunteer with the event, please contact email@example.com
The Caravan’s official website can be found here:
OK—so, the weapons cargo in the truck that Javin Bogan was driving was
documented in the paperwork and not hidden, but packed normally on pallets
in the cargo compartment of the truck. It is now established in the Mexican
court that the Mexican officials lied. Also note that Bogan is still held
in a maximum security prison in Veracruz state–currently one of the most
dangerous places in Mexico. molly
Read WP article here
So far in June, there have been several days with no murders reported, so the decrease seems to be holding. I have had trouble keeping the count because El Diario does not give cumulative numbers. I will try to summarize what I know for June by tomorrow. This article is a good summary of the analysis out there in the press. Based on INEGI and SNSP reports on TOTAL homicides in Mexico since 2006, I think that we are getting close to a figure of 100,000.
If that is the case, then Juarez accounts for TEN PERCENT of the total for the whole country. And Juarez has about 1.2 million people. The country has about 112 million… So with very rough arithmetic we could say that Juarez has
suffered 10 percent of the homicide deaths in Mexico and in a city that accounts for about 1 percent of the population of the country. molly
For info, call (915) 740-3962 or visit Pax Christi El Paso website.
*Peace Activist Speaks on His New Book*
Pax Christi El Paso will host Fr. John Dear as he presents his
ground-breaking new book, Lazarus Come Forth, How Jesus Confronts the
Culture of Death and Invites Us into the New Life of Peace.
Fr. John will speak on Thursday, May 24th at 7:00 pm, St. Pius X
Catholic Church Community Center, 1050 N. Clark, El Paso, TX 79905. Time
for questions and answers. Books will be available for purchase and a book
signing follows the lecture.
Fr. John explores the raising of Jesus in the Gospel of John, and
invites us to carry on Jesus’ liberating work by obeying his
commandments–to take away the stone that keeps us trapped in our violent
culture of war, to call each other out of the tombs, to unbind one another
and to set each other free to live in peace and nonviolence.
Fr. John is a Jesuit priest, peace activist and author of many books
on peace and nonviolence, and is a Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. He served
for years as the Director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the largest
interfaith peace organization in the U.S., and was a coordinator of
chaplains at the Family Assistance Center in New York after 9/11/2001.
Dear writes a weekly online column for The National Catholic Reporter.
For info, call (915) 740-3962 or visit Pax Christi El Paso website.
Go to the link to see video of the press conference in El Paso yesterday.
Jabin Bogan’s mother, Aletha Smith, went to the bridge to take photos of
where the incident started and was stopped by Customs officials on the US
side and made to delete the photos she had taken with her camera. She did
not even try to cross into Mexico. According to earlier reports, the
driver of the truck did not even have a US passport. Anyone intending to
drive to Mexico would certainly know that a US passport is required to get
back into the US… molly