Winter Texans, as snowbirds in the Rio Grande valley are called, are urged to keep a low profile and stay on their own side of the border. Right now, tempers are flaring not only because of the intensification of the Mexican drug wars, but because of the massive surge of Central Americans and Mexicans trying to get into the US while they can.
Much of the valley now resembles an armed camp, as civilian groups, so-called militias, and even legitimate law enforcement and border control units—coming from Brownsville at the southernmost tip of the valley, up through McAllen and beyond—patrol the river with armoured gunboats guided by drones overhead.
Concurrently, Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development and the US State Department are urging their citizens to avoid all unnecessary travel to the northernmost states of Mexico bordering Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California—hotbeds of the lethal drug trade where road ambushes, beheadings, kidnappings, and executions are routine daily occurrences.
Similarly, southwest states have also been put on the “Avoid Travel” lists by Canadian and US governments. In one of these states, Guerrero, 43 students from a rural teacher’s college were abducted by police almost eight weeks ago and have not been heard from since. The abduction has fired up demonstrations not only in Mexico but around the world, and has turned parents into rioters insisting to be told about the whereabouts of their children. But they have not gotten any answers.
According to the Washington Post: “The crime has captured Mexico’s attention unlike nearly any other atrocity in the recent years of brutal drug-war violence and spawned a protest movement that has shown no signs of abating. President Enrique Peña Nieto, who returned this past weekend from an extended trip abroad, is facing the most acute crisis of his two years in office.”
Ironically, and sadly, tourism to Mexico—which went down somewhat over the past few years in reaction to media reports about intensifying drug wars—has seen a resurgence this year, particularly among Canadians, who are expected to fill the 1.4 million airline seats destined for Mexico this winter. That accounts for one-third of all Canadian airline seats heading to South and Central America and the Caribbean.
Not much incentive for Mexico to clean up its act.