I watch as the soldiers walk gracefully, tilting their heads every so often, to get as better glimpse, I guess into peoples’ vehicles. The dust wafting in the air, covered up what was left of a thriving, tourist town, known as Las Flores to locals in this tight knit border community. This small town sits along the Rio Grande River, as many small border towns do, and its neighbors to the north, we’re known as the Rio Grande Valley, Texas. We thrive as best we can, despite the economy, which we’ve endured long before President Obama took office, that’s how we measure it around here.
Three years ago, this would have been a different scenario. Just getting across into town, over the international bridge is hectic in itself, and getting out is even longer. The wait, however, has always been worth it. The aroma of sautéed everything, coming from the street vendors, the bright, beautiful colors of the assorted materials being sold, as well as the smiles of the poor, but very hard working individuals who make their living peddling, enabling them to make some money to support their families.
If you are brave enough to go there now, you can still see the merchants, smell the wonderful food and take in the local color, but the added color is also black, gray and an assortment of steel gray, as the uniforms of the soldiers and the militia indicate, they are here to stay.
I mentioned soldiers earlier, and to those who have kept up with the news on the violence in the southern border regions, it has become a violent backlash between rival cartels and local gangs, all vying for what they consider prime real estate, and a very lucrative region for them, due to the proximity to the United States, from whence the drug laden and addicted produce a lot of money for them.
Those of us that live out our daily lives don’t have the luxury, at times, to worry or wonder too much about the violence, we have to go on with our daily responsibilities, but we are not ignorant of the fact that, it is very real and very present in our neighborhoods. It used to be “Mexico’s Problem” and now it has reached our backyards, literally. It has now become a problem for everyone.
It does not matter what color skin you are, the fact that you live along this magnificent river, makes everyone a prime target. A target for what you ask, tell for one, kidnappings, The local drug gangs need money to continue their illegal ventures and in order to do that, they will choose at will, both either on this side of the border, or when you go across, and hold you for ransom, while they wait for honest, hardworking families, to come up with the money they want, or you family member disappears, never to be heard from again. In the meantime, our lives must go on and I will be writing more about that in future articles. For now, the violence continues, the shooting and gang wars is a reminder every day, as we can hear the gun battles just across the river, for those of us that live closer to it. It is a reminder, no matter where you live, if drugs are in high demand, so are the lives that need them, as the money to produce said drugs must come from somewhere, and that can be from middle America or the cities by the border.