Friday, July 23, 2010

Now it is Car-Jackings

July 21, 2010
The Del Rio Herald published a story about four Americans that were car-jacked in Acuna. Sources in Acuna tell us that 13-people have been car-jacked. Some were at traffic lights and others stopped because the street was blocked by a truck. Usually, two men approach the vehicle, point guns at the occupants and demand they get out and leave the keys in the vehicle.

Late model pick-ups and SUVs are targeted by the armed thieves. Many Americans and wealthy Mexicans are switching to old used cars while driving around town.

This is a further sign of the spreading violence. The indirect impact on the colonias is severe. The few church groups and charities that are still operating across the border are evaluating this new development and it is reasonable to believe many will stop their visits. The fact that these robberies occur in broad daylight and that Mexican victims do not trust the police enough to file a report tells us that law and order is close to a complete break-down.

NONE OF THIS CHANGES THE NEEDS OF THE CHILDREN AND ELDERLY. The poor families living a hand to mouth existence still need our help. As other U.S. charities and as churches abandon these people, our help becomes more critical.

We are searching for a used vehicle to use so we can continue our work in Acuna. We are also reaching out to increase the number of supporters so we can broaden our work in Acuna.

Working at the neighborhood level, we hope to organize small neighborhood meetings in the fall to discuss solutions to many of Acuna's problems and the problems in each neighborhood.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Reality

Four bodies were found late Thursday night on the banks of the Rio Grande near Ciudad Acuña, where one person is still missing, according to the Coahuila state Attorney General’s Office.

Photos of the damage caused by the flood cannot do justice to the situation. Many cardboard homes were simply washed away. Many cinder block homes were destroyed. Here, there is no home owner's insurance and the property loss is easier to describe as 'every thing they owned'.

Imagine that you live in a two room cinder block house and the walls collapse. All of your furniture, food, clothes, photographs, medicine, - everything is gone! Hundreds of houses were on the river. Lorena, our long-time translator, lived with here children in a house on the river. We've not been able to locate her. The roads to her home and her mother's home are still inaccessible.

Imagine that you live in a house that you built from scraps of cardboard and discarded lumber. You are at work when the flood strikes. Your home disappears with all of your meager possessions. However, this worry is small because your children were at school. Was there any damage at the school? Did the school dismiss the children early because of the pending flood? There is no way to telephone someone. The phones and electricity are out! The people boarding the buses are in a state of panic. Many roads quickly become inaccessible.

This is the reality.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Flooding and Why We Help Mexico

As hundreds of people in Acuna flee the flood waters and as an estimated 10,000 families (AP story) saw their homes damaged, I think of the people in these cardboard ruins. They had little and lost everything.

It seems it was only a few short years ago when these same people, living in cardboard shacks and working 50 hours to earn $40 to $60, sent $1,500 to help the victims of Katrina. I love helping these people and wonder if the people in New Orleans are collecting money to return the favor.

In the colonias I see genuine gratitude and sharing with neighbors.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Drug Cartel and Elections

While we stay clear of helping political parties in any country, we monitor politics that affect the border. During the last few weeks, every pundit opined that the PRI would probably win in landslides and that this would demonstrate that the people are fed up with the current war on drugs in Mexico. Many said that the people are looking for a return to the old days of deals with the cartels that allow them to ship tons of drugs into the U.S. as long as they stop the violence. This just in from the AP!

(AP) — President Felipe Calderon's allies held back a resurgence by Mexico's old ruling party, according to results Monday from state elections marred by drug gang violence so severe a large majority of citizens stayed home in two of the most dangerous border states.

There will NOT be stories or many editorials that report that the defeat of the opponents to the president demonstrate that the people want the cartels crushed and are not trading their safety in exchange for what is right. The U.S. media seem determined to hurt Mexico's fight against the cartels as they overlook the fact that our law enforcement efforts should be focused like a laser on drug smugglers instead of a shotgun approach where we grab as many illegal immigrants as possible. Our media report Mexican victories as defeats.

Please make a few notes as you read past the headlines and you will quickly see that almost every headline should reflect victories by the Mexican Army. Then, send a note to the editor.

Also, it would be nice if the media would ask a hard question when politicians say that x number of Mexican citizens have been murder victims. Here is the hard question: How many of these CITIZENS would more accurately be described as cartel members, murderers, assassins and thugs?

It is estimated that 90 to 95 percent of the dead are cartel members or fighting in the drug war. Few are innocent citizens.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Casa Hogar del Nino Closed

Last year there was a terrible fire at a shelter for children in Mexico. The subsequent investigation resulted in the state being found libel because of inadequate regulations regarding shelters for children. Every state examined their own policies and as a result the shelters in Acuna were recently given a copy of the new 16-page book of regulations regarding shelters for children.

There are requirements concerning smoke detectors, entrances and exits, food preparation and regarding the number of staff. The staffing requirement is a ratio of adults per maximum capacity. Antonio and Hermalinda have been considering closing their shelter for some time and these new requirements that they cannot meet seems to be an indication that it is time to close.

I met with Antonio and Hermalinda about the closing and other issues and they seem relieved now that the decision has been made. Hermalinda has experienced health problems during the past few years and both Antonio and Hermalinda seem content with their decision.

They promised to forward a list of the children and their new locations in the near future. We will continue to visit our friends and wish them well.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Mexico and Elections

Paper Houses strives to remain free of association with political parties, but is concerned about this weekend's elections. The drug cartels are working hard to intimidate and bribe the populace. Candidates have been assassinated. Also, the cartels are working to influence opinions. They are coming to realize that as innocent people, especially children, are killed during the drug wars, the people are likely to demand that the government reach an accommodation with the cartels.

The results of the elections will be closely watched for more signs that Mexico is indeed being hammered into submission by the cartels.

We will be walking the streets, distributing food and witnessing things first-hand as they unfold in Acuna and Piedras.