home Latin America, Mexico, national security, terrorism, Western Hemisphere U.S./Mexico Border Conflicts Take Interesting Turn?

U.S./Mexico Border Conflicts Take Interesting Turn?

“Until an investigation has been completed, Plan Merida funding and cooperation for Mexico should be placed on hold.”

Increased tensions and skirmishes with drug dealers, illegal aliens, and law-breakers at the U.S.-Mexico border is not a recent phenomena. It has been a national security challenge for many decades that has only become more pressing a matter in recent years because the federal government has failed to provide the resources necessary to secure the border. Not only are the Border Patrol Agents under constant threat of attack, but now it also appears that civilians residing on the U.S.-side of the border are in danger as well.

The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association is alleging that active duty members of the Mexican military may be involved in a home invasion on the U.S.-side of the border. The attack appears to have resulted in the death of an American. Association President Mark Spencer made the remarks on former Congressman J.D. Hayworth’s radio show earlier this week.

On the broader question of the Mexican military being involved in this and other crimes along the border area, a Phoenix Police Department document provided by the Association states that “suspects are Mexican military coming into the United States with full tactical gear and police raid shirts to conduct home invasions. According to the suspect, they were planning on ambushing the officers following them [Phoenix police officers] but didn’t only because they didn’t have any ammunition left. Homicide responded and took dispo. BE CAREFUL.” These are fairly serious allegations and should be investigated further by federal authorities. The entire interview and supporting documentation from the Phoenix Police Department is available at the KFYI website.

This latest incident speaks to a deeper problem beyond border control issues and calls into question the quality of our relationship with Mexico. At a minimum, it reinforces the notion that the Mexican government is failing to address internal problems such as corruption, rule of law, and national security matters. Regardless of who or what is committing the crimes, if they are coming from the Mexico-side of the border it must be addressed.  It may also calls into question the wisdom of granting Mexico a three-year, $1.4 billion of U.S. taxpayer monies as part of Plan Merida to combat illegal drugs and transnational crime.  These Phoenix officials are making serious allegations and, at minimum, should be looked into by federal authorities.

Close relations between Mexico and the U.S. is a good thing and makes business sense.  Yet, during the past few years Mexico has had a lackluster record of cooperating with the U.S. on important regional matters. For example, rather than assist the U.S. usher freedom to Cuba, it maintains relations with that state sponsor of terrorism and condemns our policies toward the island. Mexico sued the U.S. in the World Court, defending a murderer and calling into question the our legal system. With regards to trade, the U.S. and Canadian taxpayers continue to underwrite the Mexican welfare state.  Are these the ways partners and close allies work with one another to resolve problems?

Mexico has also failed to create a freer and more deregulated government.  This, in turn, has given rise to more poverty in northern states and, in the process, has given the Zapatista Liberation Army (EZLN) a toehold in the north for the first time in the history of that group’s existence. The EZLN is now closer to our borders thanks to the Mexican government.  Smaller groups have also appeared in recent years such as the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) that have bombed oil pipelines and other targets.  The presence of insurgent and terrorist groups in Mexico is not a new thing, but should be a more pressing issue in a post-09/11/01 policy-making environment.

Regardless of what you may think about our relations with Mexico, the Phoenix Police Department allegations, coupled with the ongoing violence at the U.S.-Mexico border, is enough to compel federal authorities to take a closer look at this issue. U.S. taxpayers have invested a great deal of money to train the very units that may be crossing into the U.S. to terrorize Americans. The illegal drug consumption argument notwithstanding, Mexico can and must do a better job controlling criminal gangs, cartels, and now it seems, its own military. Until an investigation has been completed, Plan Merida funding and cooperation for Mexico should be placed on hold.

This is an interesting topic that I am certain will only generate more attention in the months and years ahead. Keeping America safe from foreign aggressors is the federal government’s primary duty. We pay for this with our tax dollars. A Mexico City-based bureaucracy has failed to do its fair share to control the violence and stop the spread of poverty and corruption in the northern parts of the country. This is now having an impact along the U.S.-Mexico border and may be costing American lives in the U.S.-side. If it wants to be treated as an equal partner, Mexico should act like one.

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