February 14, 2013 –
The new normal is setting in and what was before was only mud and straw in wooden forms is now the concrete reality of it all. Soon enough though this construct will crumble like all before.
I popped into Matamoros briefly to get medical supplies. As part of the new normal, there were no other tourists except us, that is myself and my companion, and she is Mexican herself, so you could say I was the only tourist/journalist there in the historic border town. This is the Winter Tourist season in South Texas, and in years past, it would have been flooded with retirees from the American Midwest, but that hasn’t been the case for some time now. And it is not likely to change. People have learned to get by with other ways, they have no choice.
Still there is a tourist center and Army soldiers with automatic rifles are leaning up against it. Many wearing ski masks. Sometimes the security can be less than reassuring; If you forget you are in a war zone, well there are a half dozen or more heavily armed reminders that you are. But everyone is just going through the motions. Most likely there are federal funds going to the city for tourism, and of course the politicians play along, as they do world wide.
Goods and money still flow both ways across the border. The Maquiladores have done their profit and loss and benefits and risks and all their flow charts have concluded, that even with all the bloodshed and criminality that exist in the Mexican Border Towns, it still pays to do business there. For one thing China has gotten way too big for it’s baggy peasant plants and is none too stable itself. A lot of investment is leaving China, and Mexico does have two great advantages: They are close by and they do what they are told to do. When the Yankees yell frog, they jump for the frog skins (pieles de rana, as they call the gringo currency).
For a variety of reasons, the cartels have not targeted Maquiladores. For one reason, the owners are not there, so are impossible to kidnap, and if management is taken out, they just get new managers. More than likely the fix is in with the police who then pay off the drug gangs. Of course, this is supposition; To get the truth out of what is going down with the largest global corporations in the world, and with the Mexican government, and some of the wealthiest and most ruthless gangsters in the entire world, would be hard investigating indeed. But I think we can assume some kind of deal.
Cross border retail into the United States runs into the billions of dollars. Drug money and guns also cross into Mexico to the tune of billions. And the Mexicans die and die to the tune of what will soon be 100,000 souls. Blood, contraband, retail and wage slavery.
That’s the reality of it all.
But it was a beautiful day in Matamoros.