The current killing of two American citizens by a Mexican cartel and the kidnapping of two other people in the border town of Matamoros, just across the Rio Grande from Brownsville, was a grim reminder that the crossing “al otro lado” is risky business enterprise.

As an individual who lived and worked in Brownsville in the 1970s and returns there normally, I know complete effectively that the border now is a far distinctive globe than the border back then. That reality is one thing even I select to overlook occasionally.

For US citizens who are not Latino or who do not speak Spanish, crossing the border has not been protected for two decades. Extended periods of calm abruptly give way to violence that can claim the lives of these caught in the middle. Rival cartels jockeying for turf extended ago killed a as soon as-vibrant tourism market along the border, even as a trickle of Americans continues to pass via in superior climate, to access much more reasonably priced pharmaceuticals or healthcare care, or on trips to inland destinations such as the San Miguel de Allende.

I moved from Brownsville to Matamoros specifically 1 month ago with mine ahiado, my godson Philip Correct Jr. and his mother Martha, born in Matamoros, for Philip’s 24th birthday celebration and luncheon. I also walked more than a couple of months ago with Jerry McHale, a close pal and longtime Brownsville resident who served as greatest man at my wedding 41-plus years ago, for dinner and drinks.

We each speak superior Spanish and know how to get along, but that is no assure either.

Potent drug cartels operate with relative impunity in the border states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon, or everywhere across the border from Brownsville to Laredo. They show no mercy to their victims, and vacationers really should not anticipate the police to preserve the peace or come to their help. Mexico’s law enforcement agencies are notoriously corrupt and dysfunctional, and the country’s judicial method exists in name only. Justice in Mexico, when it can be obtained, is either purchased or, on uncommon occasions, delivered below intense political stress, typically from the United States government.

In the most recent case, the cartel delivered 5 bound and gagged gang members to nearby authorities, dumping them along a public road exactly where they have been picked up by police and promptly charged as the murderers and kidnappers of 4 US citizens from North Carolina. Welcome to justice, Mexican style. Who knows if they have fallen or if they are seriously guilty? Mexican authorities seldom convict killers in open criminal trials, but normally declare instances solved and closed.

The cartels finance their activities primarily via the cultivation, production and smuggling of drugs, with the sideline of kidnapping, robbery and extortion. They create a lot of income to purchase off politicians, police officers, and to spend for assault weapons, ammunition, and pistols bought by Texans and smuggled into the South. The US also serves as the principal customer marketplace for heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl. It is a mutually destructive method.

I go south to Brownsville just about every couple of months, exactly where my newspaper profession started in 1977 and exactly where I became bilingual and bicultural, to take a look at the Correct family members and longtime close friends.

Philip never ever knew his father, Philip Correct, a Mexico City correspondent for the San Antonio Express-News, who disappeared on a solo hike in Mexico’s Sierra Madre in 1998. I was True’s editor and joined the military search even though his pregnant wife, Marta, waited. in their property in the capital. We identified True’s hidden grave deep at the bottom of the substantial Chapalagana Canyon in the Huichol Indigenous Territory. A couple of weeks later, authorities arrested two Huichol brothers-in-law who confessed to the murder. It took 4 years to get a manslaughter conviction and 20 years in prison, only to be acquitted by a corrupt judge just before he as well escaped. By way of 3 Mexican presidencies, we sought their return, but to no avail. That is Mexican justice for you.

I wrote later Trail of Feathers, a book about True’s murder and our search for his killers. Royalties from that book and generous contributions from Hearst Corp. and the Express-News designed an educational trust that has cared for Philip considering the fact that he was born and continues to cover the price of his education as a junior at the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley.

We celebrated True’s higher college graduation years ago in Matamoros, 1st with a Mass at a Catholic convent and then with his extended Mexican family members at a Matamoros restaurant. We’ve shared numerous other occasions, in particular birthdays, in Brownsville, but on occasions like final month, we switch to Matamoros. Final month the word on the street was that it was protected to cross. Rival cartels have been quiet.

Yellow tape signals no alcohol sales at our restaurant and elsewhere in Matamoros as voters head to the polls in the state election. Credit: Courtesy / Robert Rivard

Voting in the state elections was for the duration of that week, so the sale of alcohol was prohibited. We dined at La Catrina, a not too long ago opened restaurant named right after La Calavera Catrina, the face of death on Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, in Mexico. My presence in the restaurant attracted some other glances, so I created confident to want absolutely everyone effectively in Spanish as I passed. Regional households have been relaxed as kids ran about the tables. The meals and service have been outstanding. It was superior to be back.

As we neared the bridge to head dwelling, Martha’s telephone lit up with text messages warning that cartel violence had broken out on the outskirts of town. With me in the auto and the website traffic on the International Veterans Bridge, it would take us hours to cross. Devoid of me in the auto, Martha’s worldwide crossing permit would let her to promptly cross the express lane.

Marta turned about and left Philip and I on the Gateway International Bridge, which we very easily crossed on foot amid website traffic with a margin. Marta returned to the International Veterans Bridge and also promptly crossed without having incident and we reconnected on the American side.

Philip Correct Jr., left, and Robert Rivard cross the International Bridge on their way back from Matamoros to Brownsville. Credit: Courtesy / Robert Rivard

Text messages are a popular way for cross-border residents to remain alert to problems. They are a reminder that the calm of a moment can promptly give way to chaos. Weeks later, that calm would give way to tragedy for 4 US citizens. There would be no turning back for the two of them.

I program to go back to see Philip once again in June. We’ve currently decided this subsequent time we’ll settle for a backyard cookout in Brownsville.

By Editor

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