Monday, May 14, 2012

Nuevo Laredo

The news of the discovered bodies in Neuvo Laredo prompted a quick trip to the colonias and shelters of that city. My initial belief that these latest murder victims were involved in cartel activities was disputed by the local people. The heads and feet were hacked off and law enforcement only speculates about these victims. Many locals think that they might have been migrants and not even from this area. All that seem obvious is that the bodies were dumped to intimidate and to lay claim to the area.

The cartels and the U.S. media share the goal of publicizing horrific stories. I appreciate our free pres reporting these types of stories; it is the over reporting and repeated rehashing of the story that is disturbing. It is the reference to other murders that sometimes occured months ago and a thousand miles distant that I find disturbing. But, the cartels love the way the U.S. media strngthens their image.

Many, dare I say most, Americans view Mexico as an unsafe, violent country where the streets run wil blood. Few Americans envision that children playing and going to school or the millions of people that go to work every day. Few are aware of the thousands of U.S. citizens that cross the border to go to work in the factories aong the Mexican side of the border. This is the direct result of the way the U.S. media reported the violence in Mexico during the last decade.

In Acuna, Mexico I witnessed store closures and the complete decimation of the tourist industry as a direct result of that media onslaught. I know what you are thinking, "the drug violence was responsible for crushing tourism" and I understand why you would think so. The media. Here is a fact that might rock you: four years BEFORE even one person was injured by a cartel member in Acuna, the tourism came to a halt. Americans were afraid to cross the border at any point because of the misrepresentations in the US media. Acuan enjoyed a zero percent homicide rate and yet Americans from places like San Antonio, Houston, Detroit and other cities were terrified to enter Acuna.

Nuevo Laredo experiences frequent and unexpected violence. There seems to be no pattern in the location, time or day that violence will erupt. I would not take my daughters or their children into Nuevo Laredo. However, every charity and church group that no longer visits can still send financial help to what they used to describe as their 'friends'.  Many of the orphanages and shelters have an interesting opinion.

"For years they came on mission trips with rice and beans. They set up Bible Studies and many required us to attend their church service to get the rice and beans. They took many photographs of the children and our little houses. We are not stupid. They went home, displayed those photos and collected huge amount of money for their next mission trip to help us. They returned and gave us rice and beans. Now they cannot get people to come because of the violence. So they abandoned us and are apparently too afraid to mail a check to the orphanages. Instead, they go to other places for their mission trips. Their trips are more about making money than helping. If not, why can't they at least send a small check to some of the churches and orphanages that they used to claim as friends, On their websites they described the many contacts and close relationships they had with local churches and charities. Many of these groups were simply here to raise money, not to help."

I don't know if the suspicions of the people are true, but I understand their thinking. We have not and will not abandon them. We have no money worries because we remain an organization of volunteers. The money we receive reaches those in need.