Mexico: Border Turning Into a War Zone

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July 29, 2006: Drug violence has harmed the city of Nuevo Laredo. Long known as an up and coming Mexican "port city," and perhaps infamous as a party town (with its prostitute district, Boys Town), the rampant drug-related violence has closed a number of Mexican businesses in Nuevo Laredo and sent the economy into a tailspin. At least 40 Nuevo Laredo companies have shut down due to the violence. Many of the firms have moved across the border to Laredo, Texas -- where the cops are clean and the streets are comparatively safe. The breakdown in law and order in Mexican border towns is creating a warlike atmosphere, as gunmen openly move about, and open fire in the streets.
Some border governors are demanding help from the army, to man checkpoints and help control the movements of heavily armed groups of drug gang members. The army already supplies troops to accompany federal agents making arrests or conducting raids.
July 27, 2006: A Texas sheriff told a government committee looking into border security issues that "border violence" (ie, drug-related violence along the Texas-Mexican border) is a threat to Texas Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzales said that the weapons used by Texas law enforcement agencies are "water guns" in comparison to the firepower possessed by narco-trafficantes. Texas is trying to funnel more security money to counties along the border.
July 26, 2006: PRD presidential candidate Anres Manuel Lopez-Obrador said that he had won the July 2 presidential election and had "declared himself president" of Mexico. This follows a July 23 statement by Lopez Obrador where he told his supporters to continue to protest the election. Lopez Obrador is preparing for "civil resistance" to the election results (and one presumes the impending presidency of PAN candidate Felipe Calderon). So far PRD protestors have remained peaceful. Mexico --and Mexico's neighbors, including the US-- are hoping the "peaceful" continues.
July 25, 2006: Arrests of illegal immigrants along the US-Mexican border have increased by 13 percent since October 2005.
July 24, 2006: Mexican investigative reporters have concluded that the Zapatistas (EZLN) remain a major security threat to Mexico,
July 20, 2006: Mexico's Catholic bishops urged that the country "remain calm" despite the disputed election results. Many Mexican officials and cultural leaders fear that supporters of the loser in the recent presidential election, PRD candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, supporters will turn to violence. Mexico City is identified as a particular hot point. Lopez Obrador was once a popular mayor of Mexico City.

 

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