Thursday, December 02, 2010
Alejandro Garza and his Border War
The heroic fight that Alejandro Garza put up before he was killed by cartel gunman is the stuff of legend. Mr. Garza, a 77 year old Mexican rancher, had been warned to vacate his northern Mexico ranch by cartel operatives. Like thousands of other small ranchers in the northern reaches of Mexico, his life had become a simple commodity in the expansion of trafficking territory along the border with the United States.
If the growing realization by government officials that the death count in Mexico since 2006 may be as much as twice what is being reported, Mr. Garza’s death was added to a list of casualties that is well on it way to equaling that which the United States suffered in Viet Nam. For a matter of a simple police action, the body counts are starting to make this look like what should properly be called the First Mexican Revolution of the 21st Century. It is a war.
In the shootout that claimed Mr. Garza’s life, four cartel gunmen were killed and another two were wounded. “Alejo” decided that enough was enough and stood his ground. Nobody was going to take all he had without somebody paying the price for it. He had sent his family away and waited for the arrival of the gunmen. He had fought, but the results indicate that the cartels got their operational objective, and his death, along with the others, will simply be a mark on the growing tally sheet. Only his legend will remain.
In the last year, American citizens objecting to the expansion of designated Wilderness on the Mexican border warned their leadership about the danger to the ranchers of northern Mexico as the drug war expanded. The warning described how ranchers along the border depended on each other for safety and that when one was eliminated the neighbor across the border was put at risk. Now, it is known that up to 5,000 ranch properties in the state of Tamaulipas have been abandoned as a result of the violence. Their departures have been filled by drug cartels’ version of their own Forward Operating Bases (FOB) allowing the staging of drugs to be run north.
The loss of engaged citizenry from either side of the border elevates the risk of more attrition. When both sides are eliminated, the entry points of the Human and Drug Smuggling Corridors are secured and the danger expands exponentially. The infamous Arizona Class Human and Drug Smuggling Corridors result if all the other known factors are present.
The departure of those Mexican ranches is alarming in several respects. In Tamaulipas alone, annual cattle exports to the United States number about 200,000 animals annually. As 2010 draws to a conclusion, the cumulative export number is just under one third of that number. More alarming is the departure of the ranching community that has always provided stability to the social structure of northern Mexico.
It is not just the ranches, though, that are being devastated. Social structure is also being torn apart by the disruption of all forms of major commerce. The utter crisis that is taking place in the major cities of northern Mexico could change the landscape of Mexico for generations. There are suggestions that in Juarez, the most dangerous city in the world, 40% of the businesses are now gone and as many as 130,000 houses are abandoned.
This should make American leadership very concerned of the ability of the Mexican government to survive the growing onslaught. The suggestion that America cannot afford to shut off the flow of illegal immigration in order to avoid a Mexican economic implosion is in the process of being tested. If the Mexican government fails, America’s lackadaisical attitude about its border policies could be in for a rude awakening. Someone will fill the void of a Mexican government collapse and it may not be the choice of the United States.
The warning of concern for Mexican ranchers on the southern border has become reality. The warning that an expanded drug war will create more opportunities for OTMs (illegals other than Mexicans) has been issued and now the warning must be amplified. Will our leaders understand the implications?
The citizens that expressed fear for Mexican ranchers in the expansion of the Drug War being fought over smuggling routes into the United States have been attempting to get New Mexico Senators Bingaman and Udall (D-NM) to listen to concerns regarding the makeup of OTM that are treading northward through those corridors. The senators, convinced that the safety features of their S.1689, The Organ Mountain – Desert Peaks Wilderness Act are satisfactory, have not budged from their stance for yet more border wilderness expansion.
The word is out that Environmentalism is trumping National Security on our southern border. The smuggling corridors are wide open and continue to fan the flames of the Drug War. A Viet Nam is raging on our door steps, and, yet, the Environmental Leadership is being pressed aggressively to get the wilderness plans slated for the Omnibus Bill passed before rational leadership returns. Get it done while there is still time!
Does reality or caution prevail anywhere in Washington? For folks like Rob Krentz, and, now his counterpart, Alejo Garza, their fight has ended. They no longer have to fear the actions of their governments. It is the rest of us who must worry about that and what it means for our future.
Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Isn’t it ironic that the party that bemoaned the atrocities of Viet Nam is virtually silent regarding the same atrocities taking place on our southern border? Fact is erasing theorem . . . Environmentalism trumps National Security in the actions and the hearts of our elected border leadership. History will demonstrate that their idealism contributed to the expansion of this war.”