Columbus, New Mexico- On the border: Guns, drugs — and a betrayal of trustvia CNN

A long CNN story on Columbus.  I don’t know exactly what to say since the
very premise seems a bit of a fabrication…that there is big cartel
corruption in the town and that is what is behind the Federal raid and
guilty pleas of town officials in the gun smuggling case… First, the
violence in Palomas did not begin in 2009 when mayor Tanis Garcia was
murdered. Some of the most violent incidents in Palomas occurred in late
2007 and early 2008. As far as the town being  “a lovely town that had
lived off some farm and ranch exports and tourism,” as described by Josiah
Heyman in the CNN piece, people who have been going to Palomas for years
and who venture off the main street, know that it is extremely poor, that
many children there are malnourished and that what little economy there was
from tourism basically stayed with a few businesses in the town.  And there
is an army garrison also just south of the town and for years soldiers have
harassed people in the town, as the incident in 2005 that led to the
threats against reporter Emilio Gutierrez who reported it. In 2004-2006,
the town was a staging area for immigrant smuggling–the outskirts south of
town are littered with abandoned hotels, or abandoned sites where hotel
construction began and then stopped when the immigrant smuggling moved west
to Arizona…At least 40 people were killed in the first few months of 2008
and many of the townspeople fled.  I attended the funeral of Tanis Garcia
in Palomas in October 2009 and there was not a single reporter there from
Las Cruces, Deming, El Paso or Juarez–much less from any more distant
media. And at least 500 townspeople were in attendance.
The politics in the town of Columbus has been dominated by the anglo
minority there for many years and in 2005 or 2006 when Eddie Espinoza was
first elected mayor (beating Martha Skinner I believe) it was seen as
something of a scandal.  I’ve always suspected that there was some element
of payback in terms of the big federal raid over the illegal purchase of
about 200 guns and the attempts to smuggle them into Mexico.  It is always
portrayed in national media as a huge contributor to the violence in Mexico
when in reality, it was a tiny fraction of the guns smuggled into the
country from the US and an even tinier fraction of the guns available to
criminals in Mexico… As far as I know, the Mexican military uses AR-15
rifles, not AK-47s. And many many of the guns used by organized crime
groups in Mexico come from the foreign gun market and from soldiers
deserting the Mexican army.
I also have not heard of any violence done to residents of Columbus or
other communities along the New Mexico border by “agents of cartels”
attacking in groups…(see last line of story).  And, for the record,
Columbus is not really near the NM boot heel region. Picky picky picky…
molly

 

 

About virginiaisaad

Virginia is a journalist based in Los Angeles who's written for publications including Los Angeles magazine, Upworthy, and Elite Daily. She was born in Argentina and raised in the San Fernando Valley along with her three siblings. Fun fact: She took a Chicanas and Feminism course with Eva Longoria while studying for her master's in mass communication at California State University, Northridge. Follow her on Twitter @virginiaisaad

2 thoughts on “Columbus, New Mexico- On the border: Guns, drugs — and a betrayal of trustvia CNN

  1. You really have to take with a big grain of salt, hell, a bag of salt, what these reporters write about the US/Mexico border and the fantasies they spin.

    This incident in Columbus NM has very little to do with the so-called “cartels” (Trans National Criminal Organizations is a better description) and everything to do with human greed on the part of those involved.

  2. Molly, while you didn’t exactly get the story of Columbus right, you none the less came a lot closer than did CNN.

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