A Welcoming Mexican Town

Don’t go to Agua Prieta, we were told. Too dangerous. Indeed there have been drug cartel shootings as recently as June a year ago. But today I can vouch that it’s easy and quite safe to visit the border town across from Douglas, Arizona. It’s humming with activity with a growing population, though it is of course under the control of the drug cartels which are in charge of the rest of Mexico.

My guide for the day, Keoki Skinner, is an American who has lived in Agua Prieta for thirty years. He married a Mexican woman, and they have five bilingual children who are at home in both countries. He takes pride in Cafe Justo, a coffee co-op started by a Presbyterian ministry that has lifted some forty growers in the south out of poverty. The prized coffee is roasted, sipped and sold at a congenial setting in Agua Prieta.

Picking coffee beans for Cafe Justo

Similarly, a group of equally industrious women called DouglaPrieta Works are engaged in sewing and painting a variety of items for sale here and in the U.S. They take time out from their pleasant work to offer visitors some food from the garden they tend. The aim of this kind of enterprise is to make conditions in Mexico livable so that people don’t feel they have to risk crossing the border for a better life.

The women of DouglaPrieta Works

But they are not entirely free where they live. Drug money rules Agua Prieta, as it does the rest of Mexico, and it’s an exacting boss. Offend it, and you become part of the statistic of an ever rising murder rate. If people mind their own business in Agua Prieta, the cartels leave them alone. Besides, the town is profitable and a nice place to live for relaxing cartel chiefs. Keoki points out their splendid mansions, what he calls “drug architecture,” clearly distinguishable from the lesser abodes around them. The most ostentatious one of all, outfitted with columns, is presently empty because its owner was forced to flee. Nobody seems in a hurry to take it over

Another home is owned by a sicario (combination body guard and hit man) who was given it as a reward for saving the life of the drug chief he served. His door looks open, but Keoki is not tempted to go in, though he says, not in jest, that if he’s in trouble, he would call a sicario rather than the police. His one brush with cartel activity came one night when he was awakened by the sound of an air cannon shooting bundles of marijuana across the border – a latest device to get their product to avid consumers

Wherever you go in Agua Prieta it’s hard to miss the houses of exchange where dollars of U.S. drug profits are converted to pesos. Business is booming. Yet many billions remain in the U.S. circulating into willing hands who are not so willing to have the fact revealed. That may explain why so little is heard or read about cartel activity. In a vast contribution to economic inequality in the U.S., the money that Americans pay for their poison further enriches the affluent.

Can Agua Prieta serve as a model for other Mexican towns under cartel supervision? It’s currently spared violence and can prosper. The cartels could moderate, but don’t count on it. Money is king. Many say the U.S., now involved in countless wars and struggles half a globe away, must turn its attention to the more threatening struggle just across its border.

More Journalists Killed in Mexico

Compared to the massacres in Ohio and Texas, it seems rather insignificant: three more Mexican journalists murdered in a week. Yet the mass killings of journalists in Mexico – some 100 since 2000 and ten so far this year – have been largely ignored by U.S. Government and media as if to say, they’re only Mexicans, what do you expect? That they’re right next door across our border doesn’t seem to matter. Continue reading “More Journalists Killed in Mexico”

Is War with Mexico Possible?

As Mexican cartels continue to drive more drugs and people across the U.S. border, there’s talk of using American troops to combat them.

The U.S. surely doesn’t need another war, but some degree of force may be necessary to contain the drug cartels that are becoming more of a menace on the border with violence uncomfortably close and sometimes slipping over. Continue reading “Is War with Mexico Possible?”

The Unmentionable Drug Cartels

What organization on earth is the most dangerous to America yet rarely mentioned? Why, the unmentionable drug cartels.

In all the obsessive coverage of the border, blame is lavishly handed out to all and sundry – President Trump, the U.S. Congress, uncontrolled borders, Mexican and Central American politics, sinking economies, the stars in the heavens. But the real culprit remains in the shadows, which he prefers. Continue reading “The Unmentionable Drug Cartels”

America’s Greatest Threat

The greatest threat to America is finally getting some attention. State legislators in Ohio are urging the U.S. Government to designate Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations, which would enhance the powers to be used against them. They’re currently responsible for almost all the opiates now flooding the U.S. and poisoning the population. People take these drugs of their own free will, but the cartels see that a substantial supply is always on hand. Continue reading “America’s Greatest Threat”