How close before the violence worries us?

If you got in your car in Tulsa and drove south for half-a-day, you’d find yourself having left the state of Oklahoma for the Mexican state of Nuevo Leone, where the industrial city of Monterrey is located. It’s where Tecate beer is made, and is home to over four-million.

US geography was so long ago: here’s a reminder. NY = 8.1 million, LA = 3.8 million. By the way, the drive to Los Angeles from Tulsa would take 22 hours, non-stop. It’s 23 hours to New York City. So, in half the time, you could find yourself in that Spanish speaking metropolis where 44 prison inmates were either beaten or knifed to death Sunday in what was first reported as a riot.

What really happened was this: corrupt prison guards allowed members of the Zeta drug cartel to roam the prison systematically wiping out members of the Gulf Cartel, a rival drug gang. After the killings, 30 Zeta gang members somehow broke out of the prison. That a somehow with a wink and a nudge. They were permitted to escape.

Why do you care, you ask?

You don’t, really – if at all. News of the massacre was not important enough to make the front page of the local paper. Why? Maybe it goes back to elementary school geography.

What’s the capital of Florida: Miami or Tampa? (sound-effects buzz….) Trick question, but you probably didn’t remember. If you did, give yourself five bonus points. The capital of the state of Florida is Tallahassee. Here’s one, no tricks. Name the capital of South Carolina. (Answer: Columbia. But you knew that, wink, wink.) Closer to home: what state is east of Missouri? (It’s hard to imagine Chicago as east of Missouri, and technically, I suppose, it isn’t. But Illinois is. Did you get that one?

My point is, we don’t even know where places are in our own country. That’s why reporting drug massacres in a foreign country does not make the US news – even when the killings are closer to home than Tallahassee or Chicago or Columbia.

In Mexico, lives are being led in circumstances reminiscent of gangster-land Chicago, Al Capone, and the G-men that brought them into compliance with the law. The only problem being, the M-men (Mexican G-men, of course) aren’t working out. The Federal forces are supposed to be above the take, an economic transaction tourists have long known existed. Want your luggage? (Quiero su maletes?) Sure, they’re right there. I can get- OUCH! What that he- OUCH! Okay, I’m behind the line. Just hand them to me. The brown one and the black one next to it. How much??? But, they’re only three feet away. You want how much to hand them to me? How much? Don’t you speak English?


Unknown to most Americans, the US Government has just issued a travel warning for anyone intending to visit most of the Mexican states south of the Rio Grande. That’s not what they call the river, there – but that’s another geography lesson altogether.

Why do you care – again, you ask?

Maybe you don’t. Maybe you don’t need to. Maybe the Mexican government will get all those dirty drug traffickers under control. What do we care, anyway?

We might care because more and more Mexican residents are fleeing their country for the US – oh, not those who crossed the desert and eventually the river, for a chance to find a job and earn a check and send most of the money back to their poverty-stricken families. No, the people packing it all in for the US are increasingly those who have money (or family members) to lose to the drug cartels operating along the Border States – those they still refer to as the Frontier. Monterrey – that Mexican city that would rank as second-largest in the US if it was simply six-hours to the North, driving time – is considered a Frontier city. People of Mexican citizenship – unbeknownst to US residents – are not all poor sod-layers and orange pickers.

Surprise! There are affluent doctors, lawyers, engineers, politicians, and businessmen (and women!) in that country immediately to our South. They can afford passports and visas and can cross the border legally – without swimming.

Because they have money, they can buy property in the US, and that is what they are doing in order to avoid losing their heads, or their family members to the increasingly-violent drug cartels.

Here in the US we are years-enough removed from Pretty Boy Floyd, Al Capone and the Dalton Gang to forget what that sort of intimidating violence is represented by the current Mexican cartels. P-B Floyd used to ride on the running board (a little step on the outside of the side of the car) carrying a sub-machine gun. The Dalton Gang used explosives to stop passenger trains. If people died during the commission of their crimes – so what?

The US had its Mafia hits, cement boots, and turf-wars. None of those holds a candle to the current state of affairs in that country just beyond the fence, river, or crossing gate – depending on where you try to make for the other side.

Violence of that extreme degree has already migrated north of the border.

At some point, the US will become concerned. Likely – at that point – it will be too late.

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One Response to How close before the violence worries us?

  1. Torie says:

    Amanda, The raising of the flag we see in the picture WAS staged. The fact that the first raising of the flag was caught on video instead of picture has NOTHING to do with the fact it is not seen as an iconic image. In fact, the image we consider one of the most iconic of all time, the Tianenman Square &#;o208an2nymous man” photo, was actually part of a video taken that day. It was not a picture, but rather a freeze frame of the moment of the video they considered “most iconic”. Look it up, you can find the video that photo was taken from.

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