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Mexico and the US Border States



     Bruno Lopez is a Knight Fellow from Mexico City. I trust he will join in our debate on Mexico. Of Dwayne Virnau, it may be said "Some men are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them." Great, because he is from Texas. He has achieved greatness as a Stanford computer herder. He now has greatness thrust upon him as I appoint him WAIS resident Texan. He writes:
     "I grew up near Houston in a town called Sealy. Founded by railroad tycoon John Sealy in 1880 we do not have quite the long history of South Padre Island. On the other hand Sealy is about 5 miles from San Felipe, the original 1821 settlement founded by Stephen F. Austin. I was just in Sealy and the surrounding area in December. Most of my family lives in Texas and I visit at least twice a year."
     With my usual assiduity I found Sealy on the road from Houston to San Antonio, but I could not find San Felipe, which, I suppose, is the tract of land between the Colorado and Brazos rivers, where Austin settled.
     Of the four U.S. states bordering Mexico, Texas is the one which has had the most complex relations with it, witness the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto. Next is New Mexico, where at Columbus Pancho Villa invaded the United States, provoking the U.S. futile counterinvasion by General Pershing.
     This introduces the complex questions of U.S. relations with Mexico. Former U.S. Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger, with Peter Schweizer, has written The Next War, in which he speculates that violent unrest in Mexico may force the U.S. to intervene. Shades of General Pershing! The United States has many confidential contingency plans, and this is certainly among them.
     American attitudes toward Mexico vary from the romantic view of Mexico, the happy land of mariachis, to Mexico the lair of the drug mafia. In San Antonio the Texan Mexican gang is one of the most dangerous in the United States. The California border is notorious for the passage of drugs in one direction and of stolen autombiles in the other. WAISER Stewart Gillmor has just returned from Mexico with a first-hand account of the crime there. Mexican TV is full of accounts of the most daring crimes.
     The dual image problem applies to Latin America's most important country, Brazil. Instead of mariachis it has carnival, and Brazilian TV is full of pictures of crazy young people on the beaches. The police is trying in vain to impose some decency norms. It is all an expensive facade. Just inland, Sao Paulo, hit by a crime wave, has now been flooded by the Tiete River, bringing additional misery to thousands.
     What is the real Latin America? The best criteria are the quality of living indexes prepared by the U.N. and other international bodies. Incredibly, despite the climate, Canada often figures at the top. Despite sun and eternal spring, most Latin American countries are low on the list. The homilies of the Pope and the patronage of the Virgen de Guadalupe have had little effect.

Ronald Hilton - 02/12/99


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