Monday, August 20, 2012

Where Not To Go

As part of our travel plans, we will be in Texas and Arizona communities close to the border of Mexico. The 2,000 mile long border between Mexico and the United States is unique in that it is the only global dividing line between a first and third world country. I've had some concerns given what I've heard in the press regarding the spillover of Mexico's drug related violence into U.S. border towns. We caught a couple of very educational t.v. documentaries about some of Mexico's border communities.  The pictures I posted are from the Internet.  One documentary focused on the violence in Ciudad Juarez, which is across the border from El Paso, Texas.  The other documentary focused on Nogales, Mexico.  It is said to be the seat of illegal alien crossings!  The main corridor into Arizona comes through the U.S. border community of Nogales, and upward to Tucson and Phoenix.  Neither program was comforting, and definitely heightened our awareness!
In August 2009 Ciudad Juarez had the highest murder rate in the world! It was considered the most violent zone in the world outside of declared war zones! The war is between drug cartels seeking control of one of the main drug corridors into the United States. In 2010 the population of Ciudad Juarez was 1,321,000. The number of murders and the violence with which they were done escalated from 1,607 in 2008 to 3,117 in 2010! By March 2009 4,500 soldiers and federal police had to be brought-in to curtail the violence. One third of the local police department was fired for their involvement with the cartels! The increased poverty that came about, as tourism diminished and businesses left the area, made locals available for hired cartel related activities. In 2011 the murder rate was down to 1,904.  Makes me nervous about even being near El Paso!    
Nogales is where citizens of Mexico and South America converge to hire "Coyotes" to help them cross the desert into America. It's an unscrupulous business operated by the cartel, often with deadly consequences for the people attempting the 3 day crossing. The people making the crossing are often only equipped with two days of water. They are often robbed in route by banditos and the women raped. Because of tightened border security, they are having to cross in harsher terrain. All of this indicates to me that the people upon first crossing the border are quite desperate, and therefore, likely to be dangerous. Although Roy and I have always been comfortable in remote locations, I think we'll stick to populated areas during our time close to Mexico. We're reconsidering some plans, and checking into the crime statistics for some U.S. border towns. An article I read dated August 2012, stated that the claims of violence and kidnappings spilling over from Mexico into the U.S. are just media hype, and border town politicians joining in for the sake of increased funding for their police departments, and to further their own agenda toward border security. Our best course of action is common sense.  We'll have another month to learn more, as September 1st we are only relocating about 70 miles from our current location in Texas.